Friday, September 30, 2011

Poetry Friday

I am teaching an article this morning on the reluctance to talk about racism and the cultural transmission of racism through the lack of exposure to racial minorities. It reminded me of a poem I read by Countee Cullen when I was in high school. But I couldn't find that one. So I am posting this one instead.

To Certain Critics

By Countee Cullen
Then call me traitor if you must,   
Shout treason and default!
Say I betray a sacred trust
Aching beyond this vault.
I’ll bear your censure as your praise,   
For never shall the clan
Confine my singing to its ways
Beyond the ways of man.

No racial option narrows grief,
Pain is no patriot,
And sorrow plaits her dismal leaf   
For all as lief as not.
With blind sheep groping every hill,   
Searching an oriflamme,
How shall the shepherd heart then thrill   
To only the darker lamb?

Thursday, September 29, 2011


That was in the subject line of the email I received from JB (minus the exclamation point--I added that myself). There was a link to an article about how the IAAF is changing the rules on what races women can earn world records in.

This is the article I saw initially. Here is what went down: the IAAF decided that women could not set world records in mixed gender races because of issues over being paced by men. They can only set "world bests." (P.S. The rule is retroactive!) This seems to be an issue primarily in road races, especially marathons. And various marathon organizations have come out in opposition to the IAAF's rule, which is scheduled to go into effect in January. But even their collective stance is less than ideal. They suggest having two world records--one for mixed gender races and the other for single sex races. They do argue though that the IAAF's new rule does not, among other things, "respect the history of [the] sport."
Right? Road running is a sport that can be done in a mixed gender group. And the IAAF is now implying that the practice of mixed gender racing and pacing is somehow akin to cheating. But don't men pace off of others? So it's not the pacing; it's the pacing off someone who does not have the same genitalia that is the problem, it appears. Will this mentality spread to other sport governing bodies? Will Danica Patrick be barred from drafting off of her male competitors?
And what about the men who pace off of women in races? Will their wins in their respective categories (age or weight) be disregarded because they employed opposite gender pacing?
It began in idiocy and ends in ridiculousness!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

My poor neglected blog...

I promise I will post more this week.
On the docket:
  1. more on the Atlantic article, including commentary on the concept of amateurism, and the socialism no one wants to talk about
  2. the ridiculousness of the new rules governing records (past and future) set by female runners

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Speaking of shame

So I've been thinking and discoursing a lot about this Atlantic article about the "shame" of college sports. And I have a lot more to say--it's forthcoming (I think).

Since it seems like the corporatization of college sports isn't going anywhere and given the desire of so many corporations to put their names on everything--including just regular, non-post-season, non-bowl games--my father and I decided that one contest in particular needed such a sponsorship.

This weekend's game between Ohio State and Miami: The Scandal Bowl. Sponsored by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp.

We're open to other sponsors too. Enron? Goldman Sachs? Bank of America?

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Another season of scandals--and now what?

Intercollegiate sports are played all year round--except for a couple of those "summer" months where there are no official contests--but it's always around September, or probably more accurately, mid-August, that the talk of misdeeds among college athletics comes to the fore. Why? Because it's football season.
So we get to hear about the suspensions issued at the end of last season or in the off-season (a la the Ohio State) and then whatever findings were made during off-season investigations into various programs (a la Miami). That is what stays the same--the perpetual/annual misdoings.
Here's what seems to be different. And note that I am not a longtime close observer of college football--I'm more of a foul weather observe; like a tornado chaser--but less thrilling, more disgust-inducing. So I might not be the best person the make these observations. But here's what I think I have seen.
There is more widespread attention to the athletic programs as a whole and to the institutional structures as well when scandals occur. This is in contrast to the attention paid and the wrist-slappings given to individual offenders, i.e. the student-athletes. On one hand it is good that there is recognition that these individuals do not act in a vacuum. But what seems to be happening over on the other hand though is that these scandals--assessed in the aggregate--are being used as fairly convincing fodder that student-athletes should be paid. Because, the argument goes, corporations are paying universities billions of dollars every year to be associated with a school's athletic department and an athletic department is only marketable because it has successful programs, and successful programs are created by successful coaches who recruit successful athletes. Took a long time to get down to the athletes, no? Which is part of the problem. Also, the bigger problem is that educational institutions will lose their tax-exempt status if they start paying athletes. Despite the people who claim it is Title IX and us feminists who will prevent the play-for-pay athlete, I don't why it. Losing tax-exempt status because you want to pay a student to play a game for you so you can get Nike to give you lots of money has pretty large implications--financial, moral, and philosophical.
Some of these issues are discussed in the latest cover story (also a change from the past--very credible, non-sport centered major publications are running feature pieces about these issues) in The Atlantic. I've only gotten through a third of it at this point, but it's pretty interesting and the online version includes videos with the writer about what he learned while investigating and writing the story.

Friday, September 09, 2011

Poetry Friday

At Summer's End, Persephone

parted the overgrown hedge.
There stood the tree she remembered—
still on its last limbs and still "self-pruning,"
as the tree-surgeon called it—
still the largest sweet gum in the underworld.

From the dogwood, berries dripped,
bright as blood. A frog called out
for company. The owl that hunted it
rowed the deepening dark with muffled wing.
Clinging to the front door of the house,

a moth tried to disguise itself as wood.
How had the gecko guarding the porch light
missed a last mouthful of dust?
Under its pale otherworldly skin,
throbbed a blue semiprecious stone.

In ancient gowns the months
Persephone had lost to the upper world
leaned down from heaven's porches.
There on her own porch, in the rocking chair
where no one ever rocked,

sat the dead weight of September,
the chair ever so faintly ashudder.

Debora Greger

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

(More on) Why I don't watch ESPN

I was getting ready for my day Tuesday morning and multitasking. I wanted to find out the score of the Caroline Wozniacki and Svetlana Kuznetsova match because I had fallen asleep Monday night in the second set.

So I turned on ESPN. And while I was waiting I heard Stuart Scott issue an opinion on the Peyton Manning injury story and whether Manning would play Sunday. But he hedged his bets when he remarked "but what do I know? I'm wearing makeup."
Because apparently makeup has some kind of mystical effect in which the wearer lacks sports knowledge. Now, who else wears makeup? Hmmm...
Seriously. What a ridiculous statement.

[In case you were wondering, Wozniacki won. I had to go look on the internet, because I shut off the television in disgust--and rushed to an appointment. ]