[Marxism] Re: "Damn right race matters!" Dave Zirin on Barry Bonds probe

Brian Shannon Brian_Shannon at verizon.net
Mon Apr 3 08:55:55 MDT 2006

Race is always mixed up in America on any question. But sometimes it  
is mixed up only to confuse the issues, which are very clear here.

There was a discussion on the Track and Fields news discussion group  
on Bonds and steroids when the BALCO scandal broke. In fact, there  
was a HUGE discussion, so big that they set up a special forum  
discussion on it.

It involved, of course, not only Bonds but Marion Jones and the East  
European cheats and plenty more.

I don’t even want to attempt to summarize it. But one thing of which  
they would not put up was whether race was involved. These people  
were against cheats.


And the guy who suggested that Bonds wasn’t cheating ended up  
silenced. As one writer put it, “XXXX has left the ball park.”

Those who suggested that race played a role got their dinner served  
on home plate.

If Zirin got into this discussion!

Best would be a public meeting. Anyone pulling the race card,  
particularly Black commentators, and there have been some who have  
come to Bonds’ defense, would end up as “girly men.”

Marion Jones in particular most likely got a BY because of race and  
patriotism. No one wanted to accuse an American Black woman who was  
succeeding against the world. Unlike Bonds, however, she had an open  
and friendly manner, which undoubtedly helped her. However, as your  
momma done told you, look at his/her friends first.

In this sport, who would object most, considering that so many of the  
athletes, particularly in the short races, are African American?

You know the answer. Several years before, outstanding Black women  
sprinters were hinting about Marion Jones and others. Why? She was  
taking money from them, in a sport that doesn’t reward very many, but  
in which the one or two stars can get fabulously rich.

The media treated them as spoil sports. Even Carl Lewis, when he  
first obliquely attacked Ben Johnson’s world record, was criticized  
for failing to recognize a much-improved athlete. Gwen Torrence was a  
victim, not only of the drug cheaters, but of the media, for  
suggesting that some of her competitors weren’t clean.

And today it is not the media that that is attacking Bonds because of  
race at all. It is the sports media that historically has defended  
him and ridiculed his critics. He was defended because of course how  
could steroids help in a sport where so much pure skill was involved?  
Besides, the sports media historically has been the greatest panderer  
of cheating. It covered for Bonds and others for years. Bonds is  
attacked because he was the biggest and is now the last one standing,  
not because of his race.

Zirin and others should look at these: http://www.cstv.com/sports/c- 


My contribution on the track and field discussion board on the narrow  
question of the relation between skill and strength is below. There  
were others who made similar points, some much more strongly than I.

In general, I don’t think that you can directly compare throwing  
motions, as in the javelin, football and baseball throws, and to a  
lesser extent, tennis serving, to swinging or pushing motions.

There is a special knack to throwing and some small or skinny people  
can throw very well, while a 300 lb. lineman may not be able to throw  
well at all.

However, we can still get a lesson from tennis. A fast server may be  
able to serve more aces or winning shots, simply because of his or  
her strength, but they have to get the second serve in or you lose  
the whole point. No tennis server hits the second serve at full  

This illustrates the weakness of the argument that any baseball  
player can hit it out of the park. Perhaps they can, but only if they  
force it. The result would be that the percentage would go down. This  
is why they can’t match the power hitters. If they force it, they  
can’t get enough hits. Of course, the batting coaches and the owners  
will go after them--probably pointing out that they are not a Ruth or  
Williams or Bonds, who have the strength (however achieved) to go for  
accuracy. But since they are also strong, their strength gives the  
lift to hit it out of the park.

Tennis players on their second serve also have to go for accuracy,  
but the strongest ones will be both accurate and faster. They have  
the power to be both.

This is true for any physical activity. If you go too slow or too  
fast, you lose control. Everyone has an optimum pace for the best  
result. But those of us who are stronger or faster will have a higher  
optimum strength or speed while maintaining accuracy than those of us  
who are slower. The result will be that you can trim the vines faster  
or hit the ball further if you are stronger or faster naturally.

And it appears that Bonds’s strength is not entirely natural.


> So lemme get this straight. If I walked over to Gold’s Gym, I  
> should be able to gather a bunch of guys all capable of hitting  
> home runs - not to mention faster than anybody on the track today.  
> NOT. Any some of those guys take more roids than ANYBODY.

So let me get this straight. You don’t understand that the discussion  
is about a group of similarly talented people, one of whom cheats.

Or, you don’t understand that if eight 100 meter runners (not eight  
guys in a gym) are lined up together and one of them always takes a  
flyer and they are never called back, that the one who “jumps the  
gun” has an unfair advantage.

Or, you don’t understand that if one student in a class (assuming all  
are of similar ability and work habits and who have been selected for  
that ability) gets to see the test before the final, that that  
student has an unfair advantage.



> Now here is a sport in which even the no-names are making more  
> paper than the top track athletes. Furthermore, they don’t even  
> test you in baseball. So to those promoting the theory that  
> steroids will lead to more hits and home runs, then is it not  
> natural to expect that many baseball players would be on the juice?  
> But wait. None of them are hitting like Bonds. None. Shouldn’t  
> there be at least a few?

  I think that you do make a good point here.

It, however, could be that because there are so many skills in  
baseball that those who achieve this level may not want to take the  
risks involved in steroid use and/or may be afraid that mere added  
strength may compromise other skills.

This would not contradict the evidence that Bonds received chemical  
help and that this helped a skilled athlete become a dominant one.

Bonds and a few others may never have even begun use of PEDs  
(possibly at the suggestion of others who were afraid of losing a  
meal ticket) if they weren’t suffering some kind of slump or were  
worried about losing their jobs or level of income. Use of PEDs in  
sports that require a great deal of skill may only be at the  
beginning. Even more reason to stop it as soon as possible.

Brian Shannon


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