In the early 1900s the United States military swarmed and almost snuffed out Cuban culture and instead created a mix of their own. Cuba was in a way white washed by the U.S. military. Some Cubans in the upper and upper-middle classes started to identify as white due to their European connections and backgrounds. By doing so they were able to be granted more privileges compared to other Cubans.
“American football, a sport played primarily within Havan’s elite social athletic club culture, gets marginalized or dismissed by scholars as a part of the U.S. cultural imperialism.”
Much of this article talked about Cuban culture, and how much the U.S shaped it. American football was not the first sport introduced to Cubans by the military, the arguably more popular one was baseball. And like baseball, American football was built around the idea of it to be played by the upper/upper middle class groups, and yet it became more popular when middle/lower class began to play the sport.
“This view of self, shaped by close contact with the United States, extended beyond the Cuban elite to the aspiring middle – and lower middle classes… Examining the sports these groups played and attended… offers an opportunity for better insight into how these groups saw themselves and their vision of the nation.”
With the adoption of american football and other americanized sports, Cuba too started to adopt parts of american culture. In a way they seemed to have been in a state of limbo when it came to a sense of their own identity as a nation when they were heavily influenced by the United States.
“ …Atlético defeated Tulane 11-0, marking the first Cuban win over a nonmilitary U.S. team. Descriptions of the games that appear in Cuban newspapers reaffirm the importance of Atléticos games against the U.S. teams in building Cuba’s athletic reputation and fostering national identity.”
This quote reminded me of similar things said in Raceball by Rob Ruck. How when the Cuban teams beat U.S. teams and other teams in baseball it put them on the map, showing the world that they had beat the United States at their own game. This article showed that once again, the Cuban people were able to take something that was introduced to them by the United States and run with it. They opened their own teams, three institutions – the University of Havana, the Vedado Tennis Club and the Havana YMCA- all helped create the University of Athletic Association. By doing shows they show the world that they are happily adopting another U.S. sport into their culture.
“From the late 1930s to the 1950s, other Cuban teams, most notably the University of Havana, surpassed the CAC [Club Atlético de Cuba] in the frequency of games played against U.S. teams, but Atléticos achievements remained part of cultural memory.”
This quote can once again show the importance and the theme of this article, the sense of Cuban culture and how much America influenced it. Unlike the introduction of baseball, the introduction of American football to Cuba, brought a sense of class to people, especially those of the upper/upper middle class. Even though the middle/lower class did learn to play the game and formed groups, it mainly remained a game that was played by socially higher ups and it was also racially exclusive.
“… labeled the CAC players as “defenders of national honor” (“los defensores del honor nacional”), needing the backing of all members of Cuban society and the encouragement of Cuban women in attendance as they met their formidable opponents.”
This quote shows how important their image was to them as a society. Showing that they all must take pride in their fellow countrymen in order to uphold their national identity. In the beginning of this article it gave a brief description of what cultural identity was, and how that when the United States military came to Cuba – especially after the second invasion- how easily they were influenced and some of their cultural ideals shifted towards ones that were more americanized.