Remember that time we said we'd get back to a weekly schedule? Well what had happened was. Sorry our promise to stay weekly returned void. I understand if you're having trouble trusting us. Has Foul and Fair succumbed to Trump's post-Truth America? Are we yet another example of the crooked, dishonest media? Sad! Either way, we'll keep trying to produce if you'll keep reading. (Thank you for reading.)
I'm not going to front, at least one of these last four weeks can be attributed to the election results. I personally was somewhere between Dave Chapelle and Chris Rock and their white liberal friends. Not, like, utterly shocked at that point -- white supremacy takes very few L's -- I just hoped that Trump was too dumb. I liked what David J. Roth quipped: Trump’s like a particularly onerous sports talk radio caller, but granted the ability to also call in executive orders. (Maybe Trump can call an executive order demanding the Knicks win a championship? I know it's a dangerous precedent, but desperate times and what not). But in all seriousness, Trump's win was a very tangible reminder that roughly half the country will rationalize gross incompetence, serial deceit, and, most piercing for me, unapologetic bigotry towards others -- other Americans! -- all for a hollow promise of power.
Of course, this bigotry has always existed but the election results appear to have catalyzed a renaissance. If you don't believe me, ask Nikita Whitlock. A fullback for the New York Giants, Whitlock's Montclair home was broken into on Tuesday night, vandalized with the letters "KKK" and swastikas throughout. The word Trump defaced the wall bordering the staircase, completing the racist graffiti trifecta.
I'm not blaming Donald Trump for pausing Foul and Fair...but someone drew a swastika on a 1 train subway bench, and my wife rides the 1 train into work every day, so I'm not not blaming him either. That was a sucky week, and I was pissed.
Another reason, Morgan was flying the W with her adopted home of Chicago deep into the night. Too busy partying (rioting???) to do F&F work, smh. (Actually, friends, I spent two weeks in the Middle East traveling with my sister in Jordan and Lebanon -ML.) The other weeks, well, we're working on it! You're reading a newsletter we wrote! We shall overcome.
Regrettably, Trump's election coincided with out semi-hiatus and our one year anniversary! It's almost fitting that our one year would coincide with someone that, more than any politician in recent memory (Obama's jump-shot notwithstanding) seemed to pride himself on his proximity to the sports world. We've discussed the small band of athlete friendships he flaunted during the primaries, and you may recall his hot-mic'd boasts about sexually assaulting women that he dismissed as harmless "locker-room talk," but today, our President-elect's frequent forays into the sports world remind us why we bonded over sports and why we started Foul and Fair.
I'm going to speak in some admitted generalities here, but hear me out: we write this letter because we think sports matter not just as an escape, but because they help us to think deeply about our own lives. The way fans and executives respond to the Aroldis Chapmans and Josh Browns (not to mention the Cristina Barneas and Molly Browns) says *something* about how we as a society value women and children impacted by domestic violence. When Minor League Baseball creates a PAC to convince legislators to let them pay their employees below minimum wage, we believe it reflects how we value laborers, even the ones that can't pop a 95mph fastball into the upper deck. When WNBA players risk significant fines for honoring victims of police brutality, it says something about the societal worth of black lives and the cost of living in a way that reveals that black lives truly matter.
We hope that by writing F&F and attempting to connect the dots between the sports and the world outside it, you're receiving a fresh addition to your regular sports digest. Thank you for sticking with us even though we aren't even potty-trained. (Cause we're one -- get it?)
Also my birthday is Sunday so you can all chip in and buy me this ridiculously fresh jacket:
Peace, love, and egg nog,
Stick to Sports
Bob Odenkirk explains Disco Demolition night. A perfect introduction to one of the craziest spectacles in sports for all you [extremely bitter baby boomer voice] millennials.
Delay of Game
“Basketball surrounded by police and blockades.” “I’m one of about 60 Native American students at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, a school with more than 30,000 undergrads, and one of only about 40 Native American Division I men’s college basketball players in the country.” Meet Bronson Koenig, a Badgers’ basketball player set to graduate this spring, who stopped by Standing Rock last September. Koenig, whose father is white and mother Ho-Chunk, discusses his painfully bifurcated identity, the discomfort of learning his tribe’s story, and the meaningfulness of playing basketball with a bunch of Native people. Man, Players Tribune, you are the gift that keeps on giving.
See: previous sentence. Another gem from TPT. This isn’t the story of KC Chief Albert Wilson overcoming foster care to play in the NFL. Wilson didn’t reveal this story to us to inspire. He wrote it to sober and educate. His parents imprisoned for most of his childhood, the NFL player spent much of his life with in two other families. For the most part, these were the happy years--anecdotes which fulfill that desire we readers have to sustain/maintain hope in a very, very dysfunctional system. But Wilson doesn’t end with his success. “Not everyone in the foster system is so lucky. My younger sisters weren’t,” he writes.This is Wilson’s story and it is also how and why he is doing something so that others in the system can live a life a little closer to his own.
My totally normal totalitarian country: Soccer players from Eritrea’s national team have defected nearly half a dozen times in just the past decade. Why? Because the East African nation offers its citizens few freedoms, meagerly opportunities, and the perpetual threat of war with neighbor Ethiopia. Sports--one of the most significant public relations arms of the government--at times allows concessions for athletes to leave the country. (Eritrea is one of the few countries in the world that requires an exit visa.) Read The New Yorker’s story on the Eritrean athlete diaspora and the strange sway of sports: “[Soccer] is a way of escape from the frustrating reality and a refuge to discuss safe issues that will not draw attention from state security.”
What happened to Joe McKnight? Joe McKnight, a 2010 fourth round pick by the New York Jets, was gunned down in an altercation with a driver. Stop me if you’ve heard this color by number tragedy before: McKnight was black and unarmed, Roland Gasser, the man that shot him three times, is white. The police did not charge the shooter with any crime, and those same authorities are urging people to “wait for the facts to come out.”
While the New Orleans NAACP denounced his death as a lynching, Jefferson Parish Sheriff stresses his death “isn’t about race.” Norman’s statement, appearing to come from the same tired script used for blacks killed by whites, inspired this inspired meditation from Jane McManus, writing for The Undefeated:
When someone tells you it’s not about race, you have to ask yourself, why is it so important to that person that this isn’t about race? We have white nationalists empowered by a new administration, hate crimes on the rise and the KKK planning a victory march and yet, we all have to allow for the possibility that unconscious bias isn’t killing people, that it isn’t what killed McKnight. … And yet, there’s one witness who will remain silent.
Phil Jackson is being a real posse. See that? I used a word deviating from its initial meaning to demean someone! It’s not hard, and it happens all the time. Knicks president Phil Jackson doesn’t seem to understand that dynamic after referring to LeBron James and his business associates—a pretty danged successful group—as a “posse” in a recent interview. LeBron didn’t take kindly to the Zen Master’s choice of words, telling reporters that it reminded him “just how much further we still have to go and how far we still have to go as African Americans, even in the light of today.” Bron’s close business associate, Maverick Carter, went even further [emphasis mine]:
“He could say [LeBron’s] not that good or the greatest in the world as a basketball player. I wouldn't care. It's the word 'posse' and the characterization I take offense to. If he would have said LeBron and his agent, LeBron and his business partners or LeBron and his friends, that's one thing. Yet because you're young and black, he can use that word. We're grown men."
Sociologists might call Jackson’s label a microaggression, or a “brief and commonplace daily verbal, behavioral, or environmental indignities, whether intentional or unintentional, that communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative racial slights and insults toward people of color,” as Columbia professor Derald Sue defines it. And so, when Phil, responding to further questioning about the mini-controversy says more or less, “I didn’t mean it that way,” that explanation doesn’t mean much. I know he loves his Triangle offense, but there’s no need to be so obtuse. *snickers*
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If you liked this, lost your team a championship and season for the ages because you can’t stop kicking, and inexplicably have referenced kinesiology in your inability to break this habit in the new season, STOP IT. Also, your name may be Draymond Green, and no, bodies do not work like that. Now harness that reflexive kicking motion and channel into liking us on Twitter or following us on Facebook.