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  • Beyond previous comment, as a lifelong sports fan, I am in a constant state of struggle between loving sports while attempting to grapple with the violent toll it takes on athletes lives. The truth is that I do love boxing and football for many reasons, but I have yet to have that “Howard Cosell moment” to walk away as he had done in the 1980’s in boxing. When I watch film of a young Ali, I see artistry on the highest of levels, but know that this can’t be separated from his Parkinsons.
    I search for ways around it (i.e., can we make football safer?), but realize that I am complicit in many ways. It is a personal struggle that continues. The only way a non-sports fan can understand this internal struggle is if they had to give up the music or art they love the very most.  
    Okay, I will remove myself from the couch now! :-)

    • @MODI ha —  you can stay on the couch if you want.. It is very complicated and yes i do know what you mean..
      i keep saying that i am done with NFL but then i am suddenly in NOLA in the middle of this —

      • @nancy a heitzeg funny how that happens! i am holding out for some new technology makes a helmet that prevents concussions, but my better sense tells me that this is scientifically impossible!

        • @MODI it would be great.. bu everybody is too big too fast too specialized with too much heavy gear on now…
          Old school football was rougher in some ways — better in others

  • Nancy, just a tremendous post, and thanks for sharing it with us at POPSspot.com. As a lifelong sports fan, I struggle with many of the points that you raise. Moving from childhood to adulthood, I have come to abhor the racial double-standards and the not so subtle impact and reflection of the racism endemic in our criminal justice system. The influence of sports media plays an enormous role in the normalizing the criminalizing of athletes of color.
    While this has always been the case going back to Jack Johnson, I don’t think that the influence of sports has been given its appropriate study within the academic community — not say, as compared to say other mass cultural movements such as music whether it be Bob Dylan or Hip-hop or similar course that are routinely found at universities. that is why I am so appreciative to pieces like these and others who make the connection between sports coverage and the criminal justice system. I do see academia weighing in more and more on an individual level and hope that this translates more and institutionally at universities.

    • @MODI Thank you!!! I appreciate the repost and seeing you here too
      Agree — the sports industrial complex is under-studied and a crucial parrt of so many systems of inequality..
      More to come m– thanks for your work and your blog!

  • Domino14

    Wow. Yes.

  • rubyr

    Well, I am very late and I apologize. I was 
    working some odd hours on Tues. and Weds. 
    This is another amazing essay. Our violent 
    society is not getting any better. Such a 
    Thanks Nancy and Seeta!! 
    I guess POC will be exploited and 
    dehumanized to the end of time. 
    It’s awful. But people like yourselves 
    are doing a lot to bring awareness and 
    that is heartening. 

    • @rubyr chang has gotta come ruby!
      thanks as always for stopping by — never too late :)

      • rubyr

        @nancy a heitzeg Thank you, honey.

  • trashablanca

    I’ve given up sports, partly because of the violence, partly because of the greed of the owners, and partly because of owners’ GOP politics. I used to love basketball, baseball, football and boxing, but the violence is too hard on the players, and it’s a shame that Junior Seau killed himself, and that he shot himself in the chest, so his football- damaged brain could be studied.
    I grew up a Dodgers and Lakers fan, and remember how freaking many times Steve “cocaine” Howe was given chance after chance, until he aged out of baseball. I don’t think he ever did time, but he is a white man.

    • @trashablanca With you..Tim Tiebow alone is enough..
      Had almost forgotten about Steve Howe — got better  treatment than Daryl Strawberry didn’t he??

      • trashablanca

        @nancy a heitzeg Yeah, funny that, huh? I have been at Dodger Stadium when both men played, during their drug-troubled times, and the boo birds attacked both mercilessly and impartially, to my ears, anyway.

        • @trashablanca Thanks for mentioning Junior Seau also — so many,,,,

  • KayWhitlock

    Nancy, this is such an important and essential essay.  Thank you.
    I used to be a boxing fan; lost my taste for it by the 90s.  I became so uneasy about the unspoken idea that the guys in the ring – and now the women, too – are gladiators in a dominant culture.  
    RIP, Hector.
    This:  “This largesse is rarely granted for their counter-parts of color. Here, the sports industrial complex demands compliance and gratitude. The reaction to deviance, however minor, is often swift and extreme.”

    • @KayWhitlock thank you Kay..
      yes i became uneasy with the gladiators around then too.. And the extreme damage.
      Football and hockey are just as bad — they disguise it slightly better with the teams and the outfits.. But just the same

      • KayWhitlock

        @nancy a heitzeg Yes.

        • @KayWhitlock one more thing..
          you know i am an animal rights advocate who abhors any sort of animal abuse, including dog-fighting..
          But I have to say, the reaction to Michael VIck -even still — was stunning..
          He was used to further the myth that dog-fighting is some “urban event”, while Bob Stevens — the real face of dog-fighting — still sells his books on amazon..
          there is is..

        • KayWhitlock

          @nancy a heitzeg Yes, a clear double standard.  Bob Stevens is a good ol’ boy, while Vick stands as the Mythic Criminal.  In fact, the dog fighting promoted by either is reprehensible – but let’s get real about how this was covered.

        • rubyr

          @nancy a heitzeg  @KayWhitlock Wow!! I didn’t even know there was a Bob Stevens. Sickening. 
          I was exposed to cock fighting in Louisiana and it was one of 
          the most barbaric things that I have ever seen. I almost threw up and I only got a glimpse. I do not understand how anyone could gain pleasure from that type of horrific activity.

        • @rubyr  @KayWhitlock agree.. The stevens case went to the SCOTUS btw – he won :( First Amendment

        • rubyr

          @nancy a heitzeg  @KayWhitlock UGH!!!!

  • Really thought-provoking piece Nancy! i honestly didn’t know much about Camacho — but this is a must read for anti-racism advocates.

    • @Seeta thank you Seeta.
      .it was cathartic for me to write it..i’ll admit –  i was a fan
      Too many industrial complexes aren’t there?