At the time of writing, April 2021, Potter is facing a second-degree murder charge.
https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/politics/maryland-becomes-first-state-to-repeal-police-bill-of-rights-overriding-hogan-veto/ar-BB1fw7yc?ocid=uxbndlbing. The Democrat-controlled legislature overrode the veto of Republican governor Larry Hogan.
See Chris Jennings’s Paradise Now: The Story American Utopianism (New York: Random House, 2016) for an overview of these movements.
See, in this regard, Ellen Wayland-Smith’s Oneida: From Free Love Utopia to the Well-Set Table (New York: Picador, 2016). Wayland-Smith is a descendant of one of the original Community families. Hers is an especially keen critique of both the Perfectionists’ capacity to generate capital and sustain economic growth and the oddly communitarian notion of that undertaking.
https://www.morethanavote.org/. NBA players were especially prominent in this organization.
“MOTY,” GQ, December 2020 /January 2021, 112. (This is part of an interview Silver did with the journalist Bomani Jones.)
Emmanuel Levinas, “Philosophy and the Idea of Infinity,” in Collected Philosophical Papers, ed. Alphonso Lingis, 47–59 (Pittsburgh: Duquesne University Press, 1998), 47.
As of July 2021, Westbrook became a member of the L.A. Lakers.
Taylor Rooks, “The Most Magical Place on Earth: Inside the NBA Bubble Experiment,” GQ, November 2020, 119.
In his essay “The Dwelling,” Levinas offers another opening into how a secure space might allow for the possibility of utopia: “The access to the world is produced in a movement that starts from the utopia of the dwelling and traverses a space to effect a primordial grasp, to seize and to take away. The uncertain future of the element is suspended . . . This grasp operated on the elemental is labor” (Levinas, “The Dwelling,” in Totality and Infinity: An Essay on Exteriority, trans. Alphonso Lingis, 152–62 [Pittsburgh: Duquesne University Press, 2005], 158).
Ian G. R. Shaw and Marv Whitestone, Wageless Life: A Manifesto for a Life beyond Capitalism (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2019), 1.
Levinas, “Dwelling,” 158.
1. The NBA and the WNBA Are the Most Progressive Forces in American Politics
The term “matador D” is Walt Clyde Frazier’s, the former New York Knick guard and the team’s longtime color commentator. I first heard Frazier, the greatest Knick of all, use the phrase in the 1990s in relation to the former Knicks guard Mark Jackson. According to Frazier, Jackson played “matador D”: “He just waved opponents by.”
Martin Luther King, Jr., Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community? (Boston: Beacon Press, 2010), 34.
In the wake of the 2020 election, states such as Georgia and Michigan are enacting restrictive voting laws designed to suppress minority turnout because these constituencies proved critical to Republican losses in that cycle. Following the enacting of this legislation, Major League Baseball moved the 2021 All Star game from Atlanta to Denver. Corporate America, behemoth Coca Cola is headquartered in Atlanta, added its voice to the protest, prompting Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell to, irony of ironies, warn big business to “stay out of politics.” Of course, what McConnell really meant was, “Keep blacks out of politics.”
An injunction that should come with a Nietzschean warning: “Dangerous is it to be an heir.” Friedrich Nietzsche, Zarathustra, trans. Thomas Common (New York: Modern Library, 1909), 81.
James Baldwin, The Fire Next Time (New York: Dial Press, 1963), 24.
I take up Baldwin, King, and issues around sport in An Essay for Ezra: Racial Terror in America (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2021), a work that is in many ways a dialectical companion piece to this essay.
2. From “Fear the Deer” to “Follow the Deer”
https://www.tmj4.com/news/local-news/milwaukee-bucks-player-sterling-brown-sues-milwaukee-over-stun-gun-arrest. In truth, Brown was parked—illegally—across a handicapped space, but it was the early morning hours and less than three minutes passed between his exiting his car and returning to it. About this there can be no doubt: if Sterling Brown were a white man, he would not have endured such a fate.
In August 2021, Hill rejoined the Bucks from the Philadelphia 76ers, to whom he had been traded midseason from the Oklahoma Thunder. Hill, I regret to say, will join the 2020–21 NBA champion Bucks without having been a member of their championship-winning team.
At the end of the 2019–2020 season, Hill was traded to the Oklahoma Thunder, and in 2021 he was traded again, this time to the Philadelphia 76ers.
Rudiger Safranski, Beyond Good and Evil, trans. Ewald Osers (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press), 1999,
In April, 2021, Sheskey was cleared of any wrongdoing and returned to his position, having been on administrative leave after he shot Blake. https://chicago.cbslocal.com/2021/04/13/kenosha-police-officer-rusten-sheskey-returns-from-leave-jacob-blake-shooting/.
A number of NBA players, among them Bradley Beal, DeMarcus Cousins, Trevor Ariza, Kelly Oubre, Thabo Sefalosha, who chose not to enter the bubble because of health (fear of contracting Covid-19; injuries) or family concerns. Several of those who opted out cited the importance of being with their families. One of those players was Avery Bradley, a guard with the L.A. Lakers, thereby passing up his chance to win an NBA title.
Dorothy J. Gentry, “Two Athletes United as Partners for Justice,” New York Times, September 3, 2020. Gentry offers an insight into the rare collaboration between the city of Washington’s Wizards (NBA) and the WNBA franchise. Gentry focuses on the close relationship between Cloud and the Wizards’ Bradley Beal.
Here Tatum captures something of the spirit of Christopher Castiglia’s argument, in his advocating for a critique of hope, that a “critique of the present” amounts to the envisioning of a “more desirable future.” Castiglia, The Practices of Hope: Literary Criticism in Disenchanted Times (New York: New York University Press, 2017), 2.
Peter Sloterdijk, In the World Interior of Capital: For a Philosophical Theory of Globalization, trans. Wieland Hoban (Malden, Mass.: Polity, 2017), 5.
3. Out of One, Many
Marc Stein, Sopan Deb, and Alan Blinder, “With Walkouts, N.B.A. Players Jolt Pro Sports,” New York Times, August 28, 2020.
Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil, 92.
Rooks, “Most Magical Place on Earth,” 119.
4. Reforming the Unreformable
Fredric Jameson, “An American Utopia,” in An American Utopia: Dual Power and the Universal Army, ed. Slavoj Žižek (New York: Verso, 2015), 3.
Alex S. Vitale, The End of Policing (New York: Verso, 2017), 30.
It is telling that Rosa Luxemburg, for all her opposition to utopianism, maintains a flexibility to context—“There is no key in any socialist party program or textbook.” Luxemburg, “The Russian Revolution,” in The Rosa Luxemburg Reader, ed. Peter Hudis and Kevin B. Anderson (New York: Monthly Review Press, 2004), 306. Declaring an openness to experimentation, spontaneous and creative responses to on-the-ground conditions critical to the socialist project, Luxemburg maintains that such an approach is “not a shortcoming but rather the very thing that makes scientific socialism superior to the utopian varieties” (306). Where Luxemburg discerns the need for clear distinctions between “scientific socialism” and utopianism, Jameson eschews revolutionary dogmatism in favor of releasing utopianism into a flurry of possibility, no matter the difficulties that may be encountered, regardless of the programmatic purity that is either present or absent. Critical to Jameson is the response that the conjuncture demands.
William Godwin, An Enquiry concerning Political Justice (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013), 4, 5.
Jameson, “An American Utopia,” 5.
See the following for a complete list of NBA venues to be used as polling places: https://www.cbssports.com/nba/news/nba-polling-places-which-arenas-will-serve-as-voting-sites-for-november-election-after-player-protests/.
Continuing in this trend, police officers have been among the key contributors to Rittenhouse’s defense funds. https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/opinion-surprising-to-nobody-black-kyle-rittenhouse-receives-donations-from-cops-and-public-officials-according-to-data-breach/ar-BB1fLc87?ocid=spartan-dhp-feeds.
6. Strange Things Happen in the Bubble
Fulham FC were relegated from the Premier League at the end of the 2020–21 season. They will now compete in the second tier of English football, a division known as the Championship. Some of these clubs are wholly owned by Americans, in others (Crystal Palace, West Ham, for example), Americans are minority owners.
Marc Stein, Sopan Deb, and Alan Blinder, “With Walkouts, N.B.A. Players Jolt Pro Sports,” New York Times, August 28, 2020.
7. “Hey, Chicago, What Do You Say?”
In July 2021 Rizzo was traded to the New York Yankees.
8. The WNBA Takes Its Stance
Gina Mizzell, “A W.N.B.A. Veteran Extends Her Influence On and Off the Court,” New York Times, August 30, 2020.
FedEx owns the naming rights to Washington’s stadium. https://abcnews.go.com/US/washington-redskins-change-years-backlash/story?id=71744369#:~:text=%22July%2013%2C%202020%20is%20now%20a%20historic%20day,in%20a%20statement%20after%20the%20decision%20was%20announced. The Black Lives Matter was also crucial to Washington abandoning its offensive moniker. The team played the 2020 NFL season as the “Washington Football Team.” At the time of writing, it still not rebranded itself.
C. L. R. James, “Black Power,” in The C. L. R. James Reader, ed. Anna Grimshaw (Cambridge, Mass.: Blackwell, 1992), 374.
A phrase Reagan lifted from a 1963 speech by John F. Kennedy; a phrase intended to give rhetorical ballast to what would become known, under Lyndon B. Johnson, as the drive to establish the “Great Society.”
On this matter, Stokely Carmichael is pointed in his critique: “The society we seek to build among black people is not an oppressive capitalist society—for capitalism by its very nature cannot create structures free from exploitation. We are fighting for the redistribution of wealth and for the end of private property inside the United States” (Carmichael, as quoted in C. L. R. James’s “Black Power,” 374).
9. Colin Kaepernick
This is precisely the issue I take up in In Motion, at Rest: The Event of the Athletic Body (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2013).
Martin Luther King Jr., I Have a Dream: Writings & Speeches That Changed the World, ed. James Melvin Washington (New York: Harper One, 1992), 104.
King Jr., 103.
Percival Everett, Wounded (St. Paul, Minn.: Graywolf Press, 2005), 111, emphasis in original.
10. Silence Reverberates
King Jr., I Have a Dream, 103.
Vladimir Jankélévitch, Forgiveness, trans. Andrew Kelley (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2013), 42.
11. The Peculiar Science of Black Athletic Entropy
https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-8503171/Bubba-Wallaces-mom-told-ignore-Trumps-noose-apology-demand-fix-stupid.html. Wallace’s mother, Desiree Wallace, offered a sharp retort to Trump when he attacked her son: “You can’t fix stupid,” Mrs. Wallace informed her son.
See Claudia Rankine’s mediation on the Williams-Clijsters encounter in Citizen: An American Lyric (Minneapolis: Graywolf Press, 2014).
Bryant cemented his relationship to Kobe, Japan, when he donated toward the city’s relief fund in the wake of the 1995 earthquake that the city suffered. Bryant was named “Kobe” because his father had a taste for Kobe beef.
In addition to, as we have seen, her determination to speak out about mental health, which she did, painfully, in announcing her decision to withdraw from Wimbledon 2021.
12. The Burden of Over-Representation, Curiously Borne by Woods and Jordan
The Last Dance does, however, show Jordan to be a figure of some complexity. Admiring of Ali and his activism, Jordan did not seek to inherit the role of the black activist-athlete. More than anything, what The Last Dance brings home is Jordan’s intensity and competitiveness, not only as an athlete but as a human being. Every engagement, from playing cards for high stakes on the team bus to playing golf, was for Jordan—is for Jordan—an opportunity to test himself against others. Most refreshing about the documentary, however, is Jordan’s willingness to let loose, to spew invective—he is not reluctant to use the expletive, a former Detroit Pistons guard is memorably on the receiving end of one such barrage—as easily as he gives voice to his deep affection and respect for his most loyal teammate, Scottie Pippen.
13. Change Is Everywhere, or So It Seems
At the 2021 Olympics in Tokyo, Costa Rican gymnast Luciana Alvarado repeated Smith and Carlos’s gesture. https://nypost.com/2021/07/28/costa-rican-gymnast-raises-fist-for-black-lives-matter-during-floor-routine.
14. Change Is Everywhere, Even the NHL
https://www.quanthockey.com/nhl/nationality-totals/nhl-players-2019-20-stats.html. Canadian players dominate, followed by the United States and Sweden.
15. Biting the Hand That Feeds Them
Özil has subsequently left Arsenal. He now plays for Fenerbahçe in Turkey.
Erdogan was the best man at Ozil’s wedding. https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-48564192.
Townsend left Crystal Palace at the end of 2020–21 season to join Everton.
Jordan Henderson has, I find myself now—happily—having to add, stepped up. Not once, but twice. First Hendo made it clear that racism is not the (primary, my qualification, not his) responsibility of its victims but that of the perpetrators. White racists have to hold themselves accountable, as must those whites who understand themselves to be antiracist. Also, following the June 28, 2021, Euro 20 (the tournament was postponed for a year because of the pandemic) game between England and Germany, Hendo spoke out in defense of an LGBTQ England fan who had been harassed on the grounds of sexuality. Every England fan, Hendo declared, should be free to cheer for their team without fear of harassment. Hendo has come through.
16. A Pause for a Cause
Charles M. Blow, “Rage Is the Only Language I Have Left,” New York Times, April 17, 2021.
17. Ontological Exhaustion
See Grant Farred, The Burden of Over-representation: Race, Sport, Philosophy (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2018).
18. Inverse Displacement
Sloterdijk, In the World, 257.
19. Love, Unrequited
Charles Mills, Black Rights / White Wrongs: The Critique of Racial Liberalism (New York: Oxford University Press, 2017), 114.
Jameson, “An American Utopia,” 12.