Race, Sport and Politics
The Sporting Black Diaspora
- Ben Carrington - University of Southern California, USC, USC Annenberg, USA
Race, Sport and Politics shows how, during the first decades of the twentieth century, the idea of 'the natural black athlete' was invented in order to make sense of and curtail the political impact and cultural achievements of black sportswomen and men. More recently, 'the black athlete' as sign has become a highly commodified object within contemporary hyper-commercialized sports-media culture thus limiting the transformative potential of critically conscious black athleticism to re-imagine what it means to be both black and human in the twenty-first century.
Race, Sport and Politics will be of interest to students and scholars in sociology of culture and sport, the sociology of race and diaspora studies, postcolonial theory, cultural theory and cultural studies.
From tennis to soccer, basketball to boxing, football to golf, the visibility of black athletes within global popular culture is beyond dispute. Rejecting the view that the level playing field of sport provides compelling evidence that we have moved beyond the racial inequalities of the past, Race, Sport and Politics suggests instead that sport has long constituted an important site of struggle for racist and anti-racist projects alike, and that ideas about "the black athlete" persist as central to contemporary racial politics. In this intellectual tour-de-force, Carrington navigates the troubling contradictions of race and sport, helping us see that when we forgo blind celebration of the exploits of black athletes we might see new paths for racial progress.
Ben Carrington's book makes a striking contribution to a critical understanding of the troubled relationship between sport and 'race'. In creating a rare discursive space from which 'the black athlete' can speak beyond the usual clichés, and challenging insidious essentialisms that aspire to be progressive, he demonstrates convincingly the deep influence of sport on contemporary racialised meanings and ideologies.
Despite the growth in scholarship on sport and culture in the last two decades, issues of race have received far less attention than is warranted. Ben Carrington's book Race Sport and Politics offers a valuable addition to the field. It is a fresh, lively and stimulating discussion that should constitute a key starting point for all lecturers, students and general readers with an interest in sport and culture.
The overall strengths of this book are manifold. They are also greatly enhanced by the author's skilful creation of a discursive space in which 'race' is centralized as a key element in the making of modern sport and in shifting scholarly emphasis towards using sport as a site 'for the generation and not merely application of social theory'... Carrington provides a critical, thoughtful and stimulating contribution to the largely underdeveloped and marginalized study of the sociology of 'race' and sport, and the book should be considered to be an essential text for students and critical scholars with an interest in sport and culture.
The book's central argument is that sport is deeply implicated in the 'making and remaking of race beyond its own boundaries'. In this way an understanding of sporting culture enables us to grapple with the reproduction of race thinking and the wider operation of racism... One of the great merits of this book is that it does not focus on the obvious tired examples, and there is only passing discussion of Muhammad Ali or Tommie Smith and John Carlos' famous protest at the 1968 Mexico Olympics. Carrington's empirical range is more imaginative, which means that the reader is constantly being informed and surprised... This is a beautifully crafted, important and prophetic book. It questions the way in which black sporting success has been used as a symbol of multicultural progress. As a semiprofessional footballer himself Ben Carrington knows this from the inside. He must have followed with interests from his home in Texas the recent controversies in England about racial abuse by Premier League footballers. His book anticipated these events and shows that sporting multiculture masks complicated forms of racism that endure inside the institutions of sport and beyond.
Ben Carrington merges in this book the areas of sport, ‘race’, politics and sociological theory. His approach reveals a very interesting viewpoint about the relations between sport and race, and its combined influence in the last century. In this sense, Carrington’s work goes beyond some of the traditional ways of thinking about race and sport... very useful for students, lecturers and general readers interested in cultural, historical and sociological issues related to sport and ‘race.
While Carrington throws up some excellent examples within his book, its best attribute is undoubtedly the depth and extent of his use of theory. He draws on a wide range of sociological theory and applies it in an illuminating fashion. In doing so, he throws light on under-investigated areas and shows up flaws in previous explanations, so that even readers with considerable expertise in the areas of the sociology and politics of sport cannot help but learn a great deal from this book.
An intense sociological engagement with the intersection of race sport and politics in twentieth century Britian and USA. Ben Carrington is a well-established and well-respected author in the areas of sociological theory, 'race', culture and sport and this book reflects his passion.
The book was being considered as a supplemental text for my Social Problems course. Another text was adopted that focused on global problems.
Engaging and relevant to anyone interested in the role sport has played in the political arena of 'race' equality.
The author contextualises the issues and complexities of (re)cognition of the Black athlete.
Sample Materials & Chapters
Chapter 1: Sporting Resistance: Thinking Race and Sport Diasporically