[Marxism] On Barry and Baseball

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Thu Aug 9 19:22:45 MDT 2007

As somebody who listens to sports radio and follows the NYC pro teams 
avidly, I have to say that nearly all of these pro athletes rub me the 
wrong way as people--white, Black and Latino. Years ago, there was a guy 
in the SWP named Lew Jones who had spent some time in the baseball minor 
leagues. He wrote an article for the Young Socialist magazine that 
represented pro athletes as exploited workers. Since this was 1969, you 
could have agreed with this. Curt Flood was fighting the reserve clause 
which effectively tied a baseball player to a team for life, like a kind 
of high-class slavery. The bosses were symbolized by George 
Steinbrenner, who was found guilty of making illegal campaign 
contributions to Nixon. Black athletes were on the front lines opposing 
apartheid or the war in Vietnam.

But the players of today are a sorry lot. Very few Black athletes make a 
statement about anything. I have a feeling that the dreadful Michael 
Jordan set the pattern for them. When you watch MTV Cribs, you see Black 
athletes living in 8000 square foot mansions showing off their fleet of 
SUV's and BMW's. Not a single one is ever on a picket line or speaking 
at a peace demonstration.

The whites are even worse. 9 out of 10 of them seem to be born again 
Christians, like David Wright the NY Met 3rd baseman. Last July, NY Post 
columnist Phil Mushnick reported:

So it's Saturday afternoon and we're watching the Mets on Ch. 11. 
They're playing the Cubs in Wrigley, when, during a commercial break, 
David Wright, in his Mets uniform and standing in Shea, pops up to tell us:

"Hi, I'm David Wright. I invite you to the 'Salvation Miracles Revival 
Crusade' with Dr. Jaerock Lee, at Madison Square Garden, July 27, 28 and 

And then a graphic, giving the dates and printed in Spanish, appears.

Next we see footage of a man holding two crutches aloft, as if they were 
suddenly rendered needless by the Rev. Dr. Lee's astonishing healing 
powers. And then a similarly miraculous story is told as we see an 
elderly woman walking across a stage, her abandoned wheelchair in the 

Meanwhile, the atrocious David Beckham and his even more atrocious wife 
Posh, the ex-Spice Girl, show up everywhere like a bad penny. The soccer 
player was brought over to play in the USA by the ultraright Christian 
fundamentalist billionaire Philip Anschutz, who owns the LA soccer team 
that Beckham plays for. Anschutz funded the movie about Wilberforce and 
pours millions into anti-abortion and anti-gay rights groups.

An April 22, 2007 International Herald Tribune explained Anschutz's 
interest in soccer:

Mr. Anschutz initially became interested in soccer, associates say, 
because he sees it as family-friendly, something that parents and 
children can play and watch together — a view that offers one of the 
more public instances in which Mr. Anschutz's business and personal 
interests overlap.

Mr. Anschutz is a major donor to the Republican Party, and his 
philanthropic arm, the Anschutz Foundation, gives money to conservative 
causes, including a group that opposed anti-discrimination laws 
protecting gays and lesbians; organizations that fight Internet 
pornography; and groups that oppose possible bias in the media. He also 
gives to evangelical Christian groups. But executives who work with him 
say his private beliefs have never influenced his business decisions.

I watch football, baseball and basketball in the same way that I play 
chess on my computer. It is a diversion. But I can't really care that 
much about whether an athlete is getting sufficient praise for being 
able to hit a round ball with a cylindrical rod. That's something that 
should be reserved for poets, revolutionaries and great chefs.

More information about the Marxism mailing list