Archive for the ‘books’ Category
Over the past two months, the momentum of the opposition to Boston hosting the Olympic Games spurred me while the narratives coming out about Rio sparked Matt Holder to write pieces about the Olympics for this blog. Matt summarized his article on media narratives with the statement: “…we see that media narratives care less about public good and more about creating an environment that efficiently routes public money into private pockets.” He cited Jules Boykoff’s book, Celebration Capitalism and the Olympic games, as a notable explanation of how the Olympics are publically sold while the real beneficiaries are the hosting region’s elite.
Indeed, in their book Olympic Dreams: The Impact of Mega-Events on Local Politics, authors authors Matthew J. Burbank, Gregory D. Andranovich and Charles H. Heying discussed the Olympics as a growth strategy for U.S. cities. They analyzed how three US cities fared in their attempt to use the Olympics as an approach to economic growth in the post globalization United States. The authors argued that with less federal dollars available for urban renewal and a reduced tax base due to the global economy, regions have looked to the Olympics and mega events as ways to bring in revenue. Most importantly, the Games have enabled local elites to push forward changes to the city’s landscape that they would not have been able to do without the cover of hosting the Games.
The book discussed how the Clinton Administration funneled nearly a billion dollars of funds to Atlanta to help the city in its efforts to build infrastructure for the Games. With their bid for the Games, Atlanta’s officials proposed the conversion of 5700 units of public housing in some of the city’s poorest neighborhoods to nicer living conditions for those residents.The city received $250 million from the Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for this conversion and a similar amount in private funds. Less than 10% went toward the project which led to the displacement of 16000 low-income residents, which one has to wonder of that wasn’t the goal.
Others have noted similar agendas when other cities have bid. I noted in my book, Capital Sporting Grounds that in the 2012 Baltimore-Washington-Northern Virginia Olympics bid. The plans for Great Meadows to be the equestrian site would circumvent the opposition to the development of that area. Others opposed to hosting the games noted that there were several other stadium locations that pushed a development program that local citizens did not want and had stopped from happening earlier.
During a session at the 2015 Popular Culture Conference I attended a panel in the Sports section where a discussion over the plans for Chicago’s bid arose. Everyone in the room seemed to know that the bid’s plans would eliminate some significant public spaces, including parks. Clearly there is an awareness about the agendas of elites to bind unpopular development changes to the Games and of the limited value of the Games to a municipality’s revenue stream in the long run. Perhaps this is what has energized the No Boston Olympics movement. In their Olympics Truth section they argue that the Games do not help local economies. In their Olympic Myths section, they make this point again, and include arguments that two of the proposed promises (improved subway system and the Olympic Village representing a great housing gain for the city) will not materialize.
I call on fellow sports historians, particularly those who study the Olympics, to join the public debate on the Boston Games!
When I wrote my latest book, The Bullets, The Wizards and Washington, DC Basketball, I was able to speak to one of the owners of the Baltimore Bullets. Unfortunately, another had died and I was unable to reach the third, Arnold Heft. Two days ago I read that he died.
Wish I had spoken to him about the Washington Bullets and owning the Capital Centre.
I wrote The Bullets, The Wizards and Washington, DC Basketball partly because I was amazed at the issue of fans and their support of the DC teams over the years.
Even when the Bullets were good, the numbers of fans were not as great as you’d expect. And when the Wizards were bad, man, fans had it tough.
I’m working on two papers that I’ll be giving at the Popular Culture Association in Chicago and the North American Society for Sports History in Glenwood Springs, Colorado early this year.
Crunched some figures about numbers of fans who are linked to certain sports teams on Facebook. I looked at cities in the US that have teams in the four major US professional sports (baseball, football, basketball and hockey). These cities are Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Washington, DC, Miami, Detroit, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Phoenix and San Francisco. I divided the number of fans on Facebook into the population of the metropolitan areas from the 2010 Census to determine the percentage of the population showing fan interest for each team.
The results show that Washington has the lowest percentage of its population involved with its teams and Phoenix has the second lowest. Boston has the highest. The data appears below organized by sport.
By Sport: (ranked by percentage of population)
Red Sox 4,185,683 (92%)
Yankees 6,651,882 (68%) #1 in the New York area
SF Giants 1,866,243 (43%)
Cubs 1,874,234 (39%) #1 in the Chicago area
Detroit Tigers 1,404,184 (33%)
Texas Rangers 1,648,160 (26%)
White Sox 1,117,960 (23%)
Phillies 1,368,839 (23%)
Rockies 579,638 (23%)
Diamondbacks 371,803 (9%)
Mets 711,431 (7%)
Marlins 349,337 (6%)
Nationals 270,473 (5%)
Football (ranked by percentage of population)
Patriots 4,346,695 (95%)
Cowboys 5,896,128 (92%) #1 in the Dallas area
Broncos 2,014,604 (79%) #1 in the Denver area
49ers 2,332,133 (54%) #1 in the San Francisco area
Eagles 2,277,997 (38%) #1 in the Philadelphia area
Bears 3,062,435 (32%)
Giants 2,883,522 (29%)
Dolphins 1,496,534 (27%)
Lions 1,089,921 (25%)
Redskins 1,270,765 (23%) #1 in the Washington area
Cardinals: 667,826 (16%)
Jets 1,568,587 (16%)
Basketball (ranked by percentage of population)
Heat 9,483,777 (170%) #1 n the Miami area
Celtics 7,351,417 (162%) #1 in the Boston area
Nuggets 1,252,113 (49%)
Mavericks 2,756,809 (43%)
Knicks 4,148,183 (42%)
Suns 1,061,293 (25%) #1 in the Phoenix area
Warriors 929,247 (21%)
Pistons 714,206 (17%)
Nets 1,403,669 (15%)
Sixers 539,415 (9%)
Wizards 286,115 (5%)
Red Wings 1,492,132 (34%) #1 in the Detroit area
Bruins 1,516,883 (33%)
Avalanche 460,522 (18%)
Black Hawks 1,568,115 (17%)
Flyers 914,211 (15%)
Sharks 608,476 (14%)
Rangers 1,081,743 (11%)
Capitals 536,195 (10%)
Coyotes 148,657 (4%)
Stars 216,058 (3%)
Panthers 102,193 (2%)
Islanders 142,380 (1%)
Since I’ve been writing here for months about what the NFL knew about the potential for head injuries and CTE and when it knew it, I was pleased to see a review of the book, League of Denial: The NFL, Concussions, and the Battle for Truth, in today’s Washington Post. The review is by former NFL Tight end Nate Jackson, who in the first paragraph, explains to readers that he kept the last helmet that he wore in the final game of the season for every year that he played. He looked inside and saw a small, clear sticker behind and underneath the right earhole. In tiny print it reads, “Warning: No Helmet can prevent serious head or neck injuries a player might receive while participating in football….Contact in football may result in concussion-brain injury which no helmet can prevent. Thank God for lawyers trying to help companies avoid liability and law suits!\
Most intriguing is that Jackson’s review supports a good portion of what the book discusses. However, he makes a point that only a former player or a medical therapist might, that the physical pounding, CTE and disabilities that football players suffer is only one part of what a former gridiron star has to accept once his career is over. Jackson wants a significant amount of attention devoted to the loss of identity and sense of purpose that goes when a career comes to an end. He argues that suicide and depression are human problems. That the situation former players find themselves in is very human and about more than the physical effects of the brutal beatings that their bodies and minds take on the field. It’s a fascinating view and a significant argument that warrants attention. With all the money the NFL and the players make selling and playing football, some funding needs to go to education and post-football career development. Still, the reality of the problems that come from playing the game ought not to be diminished and Jackson’s review ends with a statement that encourages his brothers (former players) not to open Mark Fainaru-Wada and Steve Fainaru’s book.
The Library of Congress Book Festival ends today. George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia continues its 10-day fest Fall for the Book until next Sunday. Covers popular fiction, historical fiction, history, biography, sports and culture.
Cultural historian Brett L. Abrams and Mason communications doctoral student Raphael Mazzone, co-authors of The Bullets, The Wizards and Washington DC Basketball, join long-time journalist Tom Dunkel, author of Color Blind: The Forgotten Team That Broke Baseball’s Color Line, to talk about their books and the art and craft of sportswriting in general. Sponsored by the Friends of the George Mason Regional Library.
Busboys and Poets in the District featured a discussion with Dave Zirin, sports editor of The Nation, magazine and the first open trans NCAA athlete last night. Kye Allums played basketball at George Washington University.
In November 2010, he announced his trans status. A very animated speaker, Allums said he took the step because other players on the team would not come out about their relationships. He had enough of that so he decided to make it easier on the other players by starting the coming out process.
Zirin and Allums discussed LGBTQ issues in sports and Zirin’s newest book, Game Over: How Politics Has Turned the Sports World Upside Down. Zirin has written about politics and sport team owners, noting the tax breaks and subsidies that they receive for new stadiums from the public treasuries. He has also documented the political stances many of team owners have taken, ranging from George Steinbrenner and his contribution excesses to the Christian conservative values of the owners of the Colorado Rockies of Major League Baseball and the Orlando Magic of the NBA.
Last night, Zirin offered a good summary of the connections between masculinity, heterosexuality and being proficient in sports. Starting with Muscular Christianity and eugenics in the late 19th century, through the arguments against lesbians coming out in college basketball, American culture has promoted the social good of the supposed connections between gender norms, sexual norms, and playing, or in women’s case, not playing sports.
Douglas Development has owned the Uline Arena/Washington Coliseum for years, using it as a parking lot until the time for development was right. With the NOMA corridor development springing up all around the former arena on M St and First St, NE, the time appears to be good now.
The company submitted a proposal for the arena. I’ve noticed the arena while riding the Metro Red line for years. My friend and I decided to write a book about Washington, DC Professional Basketball that includes the 1940s, when the Washington Capitols played at Uline and the 1969-1970 season when the Washington Capitols played in the ABA at the Washington Coliseum.
This morning Raphael Mazzone and I discussed the basketball and social and cultural history of the building for the crew that are creating the video for the DC Preservation League. I’m standing in front of the old concession stand.
This was the press box.
Some of the remaining seating.
I’m thrilled. As science proceeds to study animals rather than studies on animals, we learn more about their abilities. we can now continue our move away from acting patronizing to our pets, or to pet owners. It is time to realize how many of the emotions and cognitive abilities animals and humans share.
I enjoyed the book Animal Wise because it effectively summarized the studies done on the thinking and feeling of animals from dogs to elephants. It showed how much we have learned now that scientists and society are more open to seeing animals as amazing living beings.
Today’s Post carried an article on the ability of dogs to recall. See http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/dogs-can-copy-what-humans-do-even-10-minutes-later/2013/07/29/bcfbdbb0-f2ca-11e2-ae43-b31dc363c3bf_story.html