Archive for the ‘ Sports ’ Category

Commentary: Why the Vuvuzela Horn should stay

There has been a ton of push-back against the utilization of the Vuvuzela Horn by fans at the South African hosted World Cup. If you don’t know what a Vuvuzela is, watch below.

There are several reasons the Vuvuzela’s should stay:

–  Vuvuzela’s are apart of South African football culture. If the games were in England, Brazil, Mexico etc. there would be elements of each nation’s soccer culture. We can’t be so ethnocentric as to not allow a nation to express themselves. When FIFA made the decision for the 2010 World Cup to be in South African they knew the culture and what was coming.

– The sound is a response of the joy that is in South Africa – and Africa as a  whole – because the World Cup is actually in Africa.

– Players will get accustomed to the Vuvuzelas. It is annoying but so was/is the wave, drums at games, marching bands, crowd cheers etc.

– Vuvuzelas make the experience unique, everyone will look back and remember when the Vuvuzela was released on the world of soccer. Perhaps they will even become apart of the broader sport culture and add to the multi-culture that is Football/Soccer/Futbol.

– International Soccer has struggled with issues of racism towards Black players and teams. Banning Vuvuzela’s would only add fuel to the fire, but supporting the horns -and a Black culture.

Thankfully, FIFA feels the same way I – and many folks – do. A couple days ago the president of FIFA, Sepp Blatter, commented on a tweet:

I have always said that Africa has a different rhythm, a different sound. I don’t see banning the music traditions of fans in their own country. Would you want to see a ban on the fan traditions in your country? Article

As said on Around the Horn, “There is an inalienable right to horn.”

Still Proud

We lost to Brazil 3 -2, but I am proud of the American soccer team. Coming into the came I was excited that we had actually made it to a final and as the game proceeded I couldn’t believe that we scored not only one goal, but two goals & we were leading 2-0 at the half.

We played an incredible first half, one that is hopefully a foretelling of what things will look like  at the World Cup. If we keep up that style of play and intensity, we will be a forced to be reckoned with on the world stage.  The world got a taste of American soccer this southern winter, hopefully in a year we will be able to give the world the full meal.

USA Soccer – NOW WHAT?!?!

USA -2, Spain – 0

The U.S. shocked top-ranked Spain 2-0 on Wednesday in the semifinals of the Confederations Cup, ending the Spaniards’ record-tying 35-match unbeaten streak. Spain had won 15 straight matches and had not conceded a goal in 451 minutes.

The Americans advanced to their first-ever FIFA tournament final. Miami Herald

I had to post this, I just had to. I know it isn’t typical commentary, but  I can’t tell you how excited I am – though I am disappointed at Spain because they did not trade jerseys after the game, a customary action.

This win doesn’t mean we are a world soccer power, far from it.  We have another match to play before we  even when this tourney and we still have plenty of kinks to work out as a national team.

All and all this was incredible because it was an upset. But, I think it does let people know what USA has a good soccer team (not football club, I’m ok with not trying to be like Europe). I love and respect this quotation from Spain’s coach, “We faced a team that played with good energy, was good in attack and was fast . . . we were surprised. The entire team was very dangerous.”

Yes, the USA plays the game differently – we have always done so, we did so when we beat England in 1950 – , but the way we play gritter, rougher, slower, and more athletic than mainstream football is apart of who we are. It is our style and honestly refining that style and playing it well is perhaps the best option we have to be continuously competitive. I hope that we begin to accept that and stop trying to play the European game.

Either way we are in a FIFA final, I hope this encourages American soccer players, quiets some of the cultural critiques of soccer, gives us more credibility on the world stage, and brings out more Americans who are willing to support their soccer team – not just say “we aren’t good”.

I could talk about some of the details of the game, but really the best thing to say is. . .

Well done red, white and blue; well done.

Here is video of the two American goals and other highlights.

Gibson vs. Ruth

After that posting about Satchel Paige I became all baseball nostalgic so I thought I would post this.

It is often said that Josh Gibson was the “Black Babe Ruth”  but many forget that Gibson was so good that many fans who saw both Gibson and Ruth play called Ruth  “the white Josh Gibson.”

They were mutually incredible. What if they had been a pitcher/catcher combo?

Satchel Paige – American Legend

NPR recently did a wonderful piece on Satchel Paige. I am not a huge baseball fan. In fact, I quit the sport as a young boy, choosing futbol (soccer) instead – despite the fact my brothers were extraordinary baseball players. However, I do love to attend ball games games, there is a certain American ambiance and sense of history that isn’t present at American Football or Basketball games.

Though I wouldn’t call myself a fan of baseball, the significance of Satchel Paige has long been with me.  I remember hearing stories from my grandfather and other older African-American men. None of them knew Satchel, but they knew what Satchel meant to baseball and they knew the inspirational and entertaining impact Satchel Paige had on the African American community.

Here is an excerpt from Larry Tye’s new book Satchel

Satchel would get his first shot at seeing the world beyond Alabama and playing in a real baseball league. Alex Herman would get a tale to recite for the rest of his life. Driving his children by a weed-infested sandlot on the South Side of Mobile he would say, “That’s where Satchel Paige used to pitch. That’s where I discovered him.” There was a fire in Satchel’s belly even then, to hear Herman tell it, and the manager vowed to stoke it. So he swept the boyish ballplayer away from the city of his birth and brought him to Tennessee. Herman would say that, then stop, knowing his listeners knew that was where Satchel’s story takes off. Read More

Many argue – I tend to agree – that despite his short MLB career, which was due to segregation, Paige was the best pitcher in baseball’s history. Scores of his contemporaries both in the Negro Leagues and MLB marveled at how incredible he was. An interesting element of Paige’s story is the fact he was passed up for the major league in favor of Jackie Robinson – who was radiatively new to professional baseball. Jackie got the call because took less money and was not as strong a personality a Paige. The MLB feared that integrating the MLB with an already self-established star would cause too much dissension.

But what perhaps most impresses me about Paige is not his incredible record or the John Henry-like tales told of his expertise and showmanship, but his insistence to be treated as a human. Paige did not play for white folks if his team could not stay in town or be treated as men – though of course overt racism did occur. Paige refused to live by Jim Crow laws and he was good enough and entertaining enough that he could pull it off.  Although we give great credit to Jackie for “breaking the color barrier”, a difficult task regardless of whom it is, it is really Paige – and Josh Gibson –  who should be thanked for transforming the game. Paige’s skills and interaction with MLB players opened the game up and revealed the secret mastery of the Negro Leagues, thus enabling integration to occur.

Here is a video of Larry Tye speaking about Paige. The story at the end really celebrates how amazing this man was.

Prayer

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
Taking, as He did, this sinful world
as it is, not as I would have it;
Trusting that He will make all things right
if I surrender to His Will;
That I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with Him
Forever in the next.
Amen.

–Reinhold Niebuhr


Excellent Black People

“Excellent black people have always been compensated for excellence. Always. The real equality is when we can have a black president as dumb as George Bush. That’s when we’re really equal. That’s when the dream has come true.” — Chris Rock

I don’t agree with Chris’ assessment that Bush is dumb (he may have made dumb decisions, but that doesn’t make him holistically dumb), but Rock’s point is important.

Barack Obama was – and still is – something special. He has a charisma, aura and vibe that is recently unprecedented in the political sphere. Additionally, his academic accolades are greatly impressive.  If not for his expectational characteristics would he, as a bi-racial man, have been voted in as the President of the United States?

Is it that the black folk who make the big time in politics, entertainment, academe, the corporate world etc. are the ones who are exceptional, not just good or even great?