FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Baseball, Race and Cultural Colonialism

by

As we enter a new baseball season, it’s time to confront a hard truth. One, I think, that has relegated baseball to an afterthought culturally. We allow the feelings of losers to dictate the behavior of winners. This is masked behind words like sportsmanship and phrases like unwritten rules; yet, the fact remains: the culture surrounding baseball in America does not allow those who excel at their craft to express joy in success.

In April of last year, Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig told the Los Angeles Times that he was going to cut back on bat-flips. He said, “I want to show American baseball that I’m not disrespecting the game.” Yet, he did admit, “If it’s a big home run or if I’m frustrated because I couldn’t connect in my previous at-bats or if I drive in important runs for my team, I might do it…you never know. I can’t say I won’t do it.” This comes after pressure from American baseball purists who contend that bat flipping and other forms of celebration after home runs are disrespectful to the sport. As Bomani Jones points out, they hold that the kind of behavior you find in Latin American and Asian Countries (where they bat-flip creatively and proficiently) is not how it should be done within our borders. Bud Norris, pitcher for the Atlanta Braves, said it like this: “We’re opening this game to everyone that can play. However, if you’re going to come into our country and make our American dollars, you need to respect a game that has been here for over a hundred years…” In other words, you can get home runs; you can play in our country…but you must adhere to our expectations.

It’s a subtle form of cultural colonialization to allow a player to display their athletic brilliance, but disallow the celebration of that performance because of the feelings of those who lose. It’s also part of why I think baseball has seen a steep decline in participation from African Americans. In the NFL, you are allowed to be dance in the end zone. In the NBA, Stephan Curry shimmies after he hits a three. In the MLB, you’re supposed to merely circle the bases after you hit a home run. Smile if you want…but don’t show any teeth.

I don’t mind Puig’s bat-flip for the same reason why I loved Cam Newton’s proclivity to dab on them folk—we should allow our best athletes to fully embody the joy of playing the game. Yes, these celebrations may rub those who lose the wrong way, but if they don’t want folks stunting, then they should ensure they either win the game or cut back on the home runs they allow. Either way, a sport culture that over-polices the amount of joy expressed on the field is little more than an attempt to protect the feelings of those who gave up their right to complain when they lost a game or gave up a home run. The celebrations should not be over the top and teams should not try to run up the score, but let people express the joy of the game—because, after all, it is a game.

More articles by:

Lawrence Ware is a professor of philosophy and diversity coordinator for Oklahoma State University’s Ethics Center. He can be reached at:  Law.writes@gmail.com.

Weekend Edition
February 23, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Richard D. Wolff
Capitalism as Obstacle to Equality and Democracy: the US Story
Paul Street
Where’s the Beef Stroganoff? Eight Sacrilegious Reflections on Russiagate
Jeffrey St. Clair
They Came, They Saw, They Tweeted
Andrew Levine
Their Meddlers and Ours
Charles Pierson
Nuclear Nonproliferation, American Style
Joseph Essertier
Why Japan’s Ultranationalists Hate the Olympic Truce
W. T. Whitney
US and Allies Look to Military Intervention in Venezuela
John Laforge
Maybe All Threats of Mass Destruction are “Mentally Deranged”
Matthew Stevenson
Why Vietnam Still Matters: an American Reckoning
David Rosen
For Some Reason, Being White Still Matters
Robert Fantina
Nikki Haley: the U.S. Embarrassment at the United Nations
Joyce Nelson
Why Mueller’s Indictments Are Hugely Important
Joshua Frank
Pearl Jam, Will You Help Stop Sen. Tester From Destroying Montana’s Public Lands?
Dana E. Abizaid
The Attack on Historical Perspective
Conn Hallinan
Immigration and the Italian Elections
George Ochenski
The Great Danger of Anthropocentricity
Pete Dolack
China Can’t Save Capitalism from Environmental Destruction
Joseph Natoli
Broken Lives
Manuel García, Jr.
Why Did Russia Vote For Trump?
Geoff Dutton
One Regime to Rule Them All
Torkil Lauesen – Gabriel Kuhn
Radical Theory and Academia: a Thorny Relationship
Wilfred Burchett
Vietnam Will Win: The Work of Persuasion
Thomas Klikauer
Umberto Eco and Germany’s New Fascism
George Burchett
La Folie Des Grandeurs
Howard Lisnoff
Minister of War
Eileen Appelbaum
Why Trump’s Plan Won’t Solve the Problems of America’s Crumbling Infrastructure
Ramzy Baroud
More Than a Fight over Couscous: Why the Palestinian Narrative Must Be Embraced
Jill Richardson
Mass Shootings Shouldn’t Be the Only Time We Talk About Mental Illness
Jessicah Pierre
Racism is Killing African American Mothers
Steve Horn
Wyoming Now Third State to Propose ALEC Bill Cracking Down on Pipeline Protests
David Griscom
When ‘Fake News’ is Good For Business
Barton Kunstler
Brainwashed Nation
Griffin Bird
I’m an Eagle Scout and I Don’t Want Pipelines in My Wilderness
Edward Curtin
The Coming Wars to End All Wars
Missy Comley Beattie
Message To New Activists
Jonah Raskin
Literary Hubbub in Sonoma: Novel about Mrs. Jack London Roils the Faithful
Binoy Kampmark
Frontiersman of the Internet: John Perry Barlow
Chelli Stanley
The Mirrors of Palestine
James McEnteer
How Brexit Won World War Two
Ralph Nader
Absorbing the Irresistible Consumer Reports Magazine
Cesar Chelala
A Word I Shouldn’t Use
Louis Proyect
Marx at the Movies
Osha Neumann
A White Guy Watches “The Black Panther”
Stephen Cooper
Rebel Talk with Nattali Rize: the Interview
David Yearsley
Market Music
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail