Thursday, November 8, 2012

Is the regulation of celebrations in sports part of a larger battle?


"Control of the body is a political issue."

San Jose State's Vernon Andrews made that statement during presentations on the "African-American Experience" Thursday at the annual conference for the North American Society for the Sociology of Sport in New Orleans.

Andrews’ statement was part of a broader discussion regarding his research on how black expression is regulated in sports.

Thursday he focused mainly on the discourse surrounding end-zone dances in football. Why are these dances considered undignified, uncouth or unbecoming of an athlete? Andrews argues that white elites dictate the rules for behavior in social spaces.

During his specific presentation, Andrews introduced statements from media members questioning the celebrations of expressive athletes, with some even criticizing the now famous Tiger Woods fist pump.

Andrews said that there should not be a blind following to the notion: This is the way it’s always been done. Rather, it should be asked: Who did it “that way” first, and why should everybody else adhere to that? Perhaps there is a cultural significance to the behaviors performed by the small percentage of athletes who are expressive, Andrews said.

He also said the power to make the rules for social spaces should not rest with the owners, but with the players and fans instead.

“It’s not the owners’ sport. … It’s all of our sport,” he said.

-- Steve Bien-Aimé

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