ChickenBones: A Journal
for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes
Bonds, if we must be reminded, has been vilified almost universally in the media and booed
and threatened in stadiums throughout the US, for allegations that he used steroids
on his way to breaking baseballs most cherished record.
Barry Bonds and Alex Rodriguez
The talibanization of the US media
By Jean Damu
With the Barry Bonds trial beginning next week and the US medias recent hauling down of Alex Rodriguez, admitted steroids cheat, from baseballs Mount Rushmore, there no longer exists a great white hopea non-threatening personality with any chance of breaking the hated Bonds career home run record.
Bonds goes on trial for telling a grand jury he never knowingly used steroids.
Furthermore, the main body of American sports journalists and others appear to have taken on all the moralizing aspects Afghanistans rogue opposition Taliban party, universally known for dynamiting majestic representations of Buddha carved into the sides of mountains, as it detonates journalistic car bombs beneath anyone connected to the steroids issue.
These are the guys (and women) who delighted singing in Greek chorus unison last year as Marian Jones, a black female, was sentenced to prison for lying about steroid use-the only person thus far to receive such treatment.
Bonds, if we must be reminded, has been vilified almost universally in the media and booed and threatened in stadiums throughout the US, for allegations that he used steroids on his way to breaking baseballs most cherished record.
The problem for much of the media now is, how should they treat their beloved Alex Rodriguez, a supreme athlete without doubt, who has never snarled at anyone, who has pretended to be white in America, now that he has admitted using steroids?
A small part of the problem with Americas journalistic fixation on athletes who use steroids is that electronic technology has provided us with 24-7 sports coverage, all day, everyday. Journalists, especially electronic journalists, need to fill the time slots and what better way to do that than fixate on and cultivate interest in issues that used to generate no news interest at all?
Before cable television who really cared that baseball players were using amphetamines or that football players were using steroids or shooting up cortisone?
Another problem that generates the steroids issue is that US morality hasnt caught up to the technology of sports medicines. To take this a step further, how will the baseball and track and field establishments, the two sports that most rely on the setting and breaking of records, respond to stem cell research and other computer generated sciences, the birth of which we are just now witnessing?
What has played out to date, in regards to performance enhancing drugs in sports, does not portend well for the future.
Just for a moment lets put the Barry Bonds saga in historical perspective.
During the course of the last one hundred years, three athletes in particular have been nailed to the cross of public self-righteousness by the US press.
Shockingly, all three were males and all three were black. But the similarities do not end there.
Jack Johnson, Muhammad Ali and Barry Bondsall highly intelligent, arrogant and unrepentant in opinions and actions that made white folks uncomfortable.
[The case of Michael Vick, the former NFL quarterback who was imprisoned for participating in dog fighting, was also the victim of white racist self-righteousness whipped up by the media, but thankfully his case passed from the scene rather quickly.
However it hasnt escaped our attention the animal rights group PETA, that led the charge against Vick, recently demonstrated against dog show promoters dressed as white sheeted Klansmen thereby demonstrating, they said, that dog breeders are attempting to create a master class of dogs and that therefore they were just as criminal as Klansmen promoting a master race of humans. The only thing PETA demonstrated was their stupidity and racism.]
But back to Barry Bonds, et al.
Johnson, Ali, and Bonds have all generated within the sports media industry a wishful yearning for someone white to supplant the uppity black man; or if not a white person, a person of color white folks found to be not threatening.
If there is one journalist at whose feet the Great White Hope movement can be laid, the movement to encourage and promote any white person to emerge from the woodwork of life and defeat Jack Johnson and restore the world heavy weight boxing championship to its rightful owners, white people, it is Americas foremost working class oriented novelist and journalist, two time Oakland mayoral candidate, Jack London.
It was London who traveled to Australia for the 1908 Jack Johnson-Tommy Burns world heavyweight title fight and wrote at the fights conclusion, while Burns was still flat on his back,
Jim Jeffries (retired and undefeated heavyweight champion) must now emerge from his alfalfa farm and remove that golden smile from Jack Johnsons face Jeff its up to you. The White Man must be rescued.
But London was no cardboard cut out of a racist. He was complex and wrote many positive descriptions of Johnson. But in the end, his sense of white supremacy is unmistakable. His 1904 essay, The Yellow Peril, is another example of Londons white supremacy, a weakness that has hampered US progressive and labor movements, with which London is often associated, since their inceptions up to this very day.
For those too young to remember, the racist vitriol spewed against Muhammad Ali by the US media exceeded even the treatment Bonds is currently receiving. In this writers lifetime, the viciousness Ali received as an athlete at the hands of the US media remains unprecedented.
The single electronic journalist who came to Alis defense after the federal government attempted to imprison Ali for his refusal to participate in the war against Viet Nam was Howard Cosell. Cosell himself was vilified for defending Ali and letters sent to Cosellss employer urging the network to, get that nigger-loving Jew bastard off the air” were not uncommon.
In the world of sports Howard Cosell was the anti-Jack London.
One wonders what Cosell would have to say about the steroids scandal today. Cosell was the first to try and focus attention on the owners promotion of drug abuse in professional football back in the day when no one was interested. Typically Cosells interest was to protect the athlete and expose the owners hypocrisy.
In the age of Barry Bonds and Alex Rodriguez the Howard Cosells are few and far between. Jack Londons abound however.
The Taliban of the US journalism corps display little regard for the well fare of the players.
Their concern is that the sanctity of the records within baseballs Hall of Fame be maintained.
Historically the sports media has taken by the hand members of the Ku Klux Klan (Ty Cobb) and other assorted racists (Judge Kennesaw Landis, baseballs first commissioner who said, As long as Im commissioner no niggers will ever play in the major leagues, and proudly escorted them into baseballs pantheon of heroes.
But athletes who used performance enhancing drugs with the knowledge, encouragement and cooperation of management, and do not admit doing so, they want to imprison.
This is a moralizing hypocrisy only the Taliban could appreciate.
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Jean Damu is an educator, journalist, trade unionist and political activist. In his capacity as a former member of the National Committee of the Venceremos Brigade and as a private citizen he has traveled to Cuba 18 times (and counting), Africa, Asia and Latin America. He is also a member of N-COBRA (the National Coalition of Blacks for Reparations in America) and serves on the steering committee of the Black Alliance for Just Immigration. He has written on numerous topics and has a special interest in Africa.
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In Aarons View Bonds Is Home Run KingOn the night in 2007 that Barry Bonds broke Hank Aarons home run record, Aaron, by way of video message, congratulated Bonds. Aaron said the feat required skill, longevity and determination. . . .
In an eye-opening column by Terence Moore in Fridays Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Aaron repeated his contention that Bonds was the true home run king. There are things out there besides worrying about a home run record that somebody now holds, Aaron told Moore. Barry has the record, and I dont think anybody can change that. . . .
For those who consider Aaron to be the greatest, who still consider him to be the legitimate king, listen to what he says and move on.
Even if the government produced 3,000 witness, Aaron said that Bonds would be the home run champion. Its probably the most hallowed record out there, as far as Im concerned, but its now in the hands of somebody else, he said. It belongs to Barry. NYTimes
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The U.S. v Barry BondsThe case to prove that slugger Barry Bonds perjured himself in the Bay Area Laboratory Co-operative (BALCO) steroid investigation begins March 2. Yet after seven years of investigation, millions of dollars in work hours and countless ruined reputations, the US Attorney’s Office will arrive in court with virtually no leg to stand on. Judge Susan Illston struck down most of the prosecution’s case, a move ESPN legal expert Lester Munson called a “devastating” setback for prosecutors. The ruling was an indictment of not only the government’s case but its entire approach toward Bonds from day one. John Ashcroft’s Justice Department always seemed irrationally determined to prosecute Bonds. It was as obsessive as the fisherman Santiago attempting to bring home the great marlin in Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea. TheNation
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Indefinite delay in Bonds perjury trial Federal prosecutors postponed indefinitely Barry Bonds’ trial on perjury charges Friday while they appeal a judge’s ruling that put alleged positive steroid tests and other key evidence off-limits. . . . In a notice to U.S. District Judge Susan Illston, prosecutors said they would ask the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco to reinstate three steroid tests and other evidence she had banned from the trial. . . . In her Feb. 19 ruling, Illston said the evidence was inadmissible hearsay unless the government could persuade Anderson to testify. Without testimony from the man who prosecutors believe supervised the steroid tests and created the documents, the evidence cannot be presented to the jury, she ruled. . . . Bonds was found to be free of steroids on the MLB test. SFGate
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Alex Rodriguez Confirms Steroids ReportAlex Rodriguez acknowledged today using steroids while with the Texas Rangers, saying he did so because of the pressure to live up to his $252 million contract with the Rangers before the 2001 season. Rodriguez admitted using performance-enhancing drugs in an interview with ESPN’s Peter Gammons which will air in full on the sports network at 6 p.m.Rodriguez appeared contrite but composed, and he apologized multiple times. . . .Gammons asked whether Rodriguez was saying he used steroids in 2001, 2002 and 2003, and Rodriguez answered, “That’s pretty accurate, yes.”When Gammons asked what substances he used, Rodriguez said, “To be quite honest, I don’t know exactly what substance I was guilty of using.” On Saturday, Sports Illustrated reported that Rodriguez tested positive for steroids in 2003 and was one of 104 players who tested positive during baseball’s survey testing that season. The test results were not subject to discipline and were supposed to remain anonymous.WashingtonPost
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250 Years of Politics, Protest, People, and Play
By Dave Zirin
Zirin (What’s My Name, Fool!), writer of a politically minded online sports column, examines the intersection of sports and politics, chronicling the struggles of America’s oppressed, starting with Choctaws playing lacrosse and slaves in the South, and reaching all the way to a critique of Michael Jordan as an apolitical athlete. There are many worthy and deserving stories of courage and conscience in this vast canvas; however, the telling suffers from Zirin’s term paperlike prose that relies far too much on overly long quotes from source material. For example, three pages about NFL player Dave Meggyesy has a short introductory paragraph by Zirin and then excerpts Meggyesy’s autobiography for the bulk of the section. This book would have been more engaging and logically organized as a reference book with entries on each athlete or group, rather than a linear historical narrative of sports.Amazon
The Greatest, My Own Story (Muhammad Ali)
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James A. Riley (Editor), Monte Irvin (Foreword)
EditorRiley is an accomplished writer and a recognized authority on the Negro leagues, having published numerous books on the subject (e.g., Too Dark for the Hall, T.K. Pubs., 1991). His comprehensive reference book documents the careers of 4000 players on teams of major league caliber between 1872 and 1950. Notable Hall of Famers included are Hank Aaron, Satchel Paige, Ernie Banks, and Jackie Robinson. Arranged alphabetically, the citations contain a variety of biographical and statistical information. This valuable compilation also provides illustrations, team histories, an appendix on players, plus an exhaustive bibliography detailing books, periodicals, booklets, and newpaper articles. Public libraries should purchase where demand warrants.L.R. Little, Penticton P.L., British Columbia, Library Journal
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From The World and Africa, 1965
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posted 3 March 2009