My chosen topic was centered on the connections in Communism and American Sports. My research was process-oriented and could be summed up by the following question: Is there evidence of successful communist sporting leagues or organizations which developed through sport to positively impact members and surrounding communities? In the answer to that question, I relied heavily on one of our readings: C’mon You Reds: The U.S. Communist Party’s Workers’ Soccer Association by Gabe Logan. C’mon You Reds was relevant to our discussion on the establishment of organized soccer leagues in America. The reading brought to my attention the involvement of the United State’s Communist Party in facilitating workers soccer leagues. Furthermore, it brought to my attention the shortcomings of our educational system in the success of communism. Typically, communism in America is a tale filled with fear-mongering and government attempts to discourage its ideology. Historically, America has represented the antithesis of communism: a flourishing democracy, hailing a triumphant capitalistic economy with private ownership, whose citizens recognize the evils of the rule of the proletariat. However, Gabe Logan’s C’mon You Reds presents a new narrative of communism in America. Worker’s Soccer Leagues, or communist soccer leagues, organized soccer games for recreational play at low costs and in doing so made notable contributions to the surrounding community in the name of communism. My project aimed to rediscover communism in America through sports and re-structure the narrative of American communism to reflect the positive contributions made.
For example, the Workers Soccer Association (WAS) was a Labor Sport Union organization which facilitated matches amongst recognized teams of labor soccer players. I am not aware of any curriculum which teaches the positive community impact this association had. WSA held many matches for fund-raising events in the eight years that it existed. These showcases often aimed to provide financial support for causes pertinent to the communist agenda- like the Gastonia Textile Strike and the Harlan, Kentucky, mine strikes. Miner’s unionization efforts are mentioned in almost every publication of Young Worker, highlighting their importance to the cause. Other evidence of good deed committed by the Labor Sports Union and affiliated organizations include sustained communist efforts to mobilize and fight tenant evictions in New York and Chicago. Gabe Logan details WSA charity soccer matches held to support the effort. Likewise, historian Mark Niason describes the lengths the Communist party went to be “not just somebody coming from nowhere” but “the Communist was your neighbor, helping you.” The Communist party became a symbol of solidarity and hope in their communities because they were real organizations: “they ran social clubs; they ran sports leagues; they were organized in unions.” Outside of Gabe Logan’s article, I read Mark Niason’s work which focused on the hidden history of the Communist Party in America. Additionally, Logan had another article, “Playing for the People: Labor Sport Union Athletic Clubs in the Lake Superior/Iron Range 1927-1936” which gave vast insight to the transformation and inner workings of the Labor Sport Union. I was introduced to the many publications of the newspaper Young Worker, sponsored by the Communist Party, which ran from 1920 onward. I wish I had more direct access to the publications of this paper as Logan and other academics referenced it often and it was hard to find the sources published online. I mostly relied on JSTOR and the Marxist Archive database. The most interesting aspect of this project was the many Young Worker publications I got to sift through on the Marxist database. I’ve used it before, but not to this extent and getting a feel for the events of the times was incredibly fascinating.
“Eviction Defense in the Bronx,” April 30, 2012. https://nplusonemag.com/online-only/occupy/eviction-defense-in-the-bronx/.
Lewy, Guenter. The Cause That Failed: Communism in American Political Life. Oxford University Press, 1990.
Logan, Gabe. “C’mon, You Reds: The U.S. Communist Party’s Workers’ Soccer Association, 1927–35.” Journal of Sport History44, no. 3 (October 26, 2017): 384–98. “Playing for the People: Labor Sport Union Athletic Clubs in the Lake Superior/Iron Range 1927-1936” 4 (n.d.): 40.
Storch, Randi. Red Chicago: American Communism at Its Grassroots, 1928-35. University of Illinois Press, 2007.
“Young Worker – Contents by Issue (1922 until 1927).” Accessed December 3, 2020. https://www.marxists.org/history/usa/pubs/youngworker/index.htm.
Link to Research and Graphics:
https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1n_13Dp-Y8QqwAKKqi8g7_tlDj86yoeV_?usp=sharing – all newspaper clippings are from Marxist.org.
https://docs.google.com/document/d/1oppj_f0EwyElivNAMZkc5qMI2giG5Rp8np64dz1FMcI/edit?usp=sharing – any remaining photos are from Logan Gabe’s C’Mon You Reds.