From Midfielder to the Fresno Fuego Front Office: Jeremy Schultz’s Soccer Journey

On Wednesday, April 26, Jeremy Schultz diligently answered emails while taking phone calls in preparation for Fresno Fuego’s 2017 PDL season opener. Having won their division the previous season, the Fuego team also qualified to participate in the 104th edition of the U.S. Open Cup. As we sat down in the offices overlooking the field at Chukchansi Park, Jeremy struggled to hold back his excitement. As a Fresno native who came of age in the late 1980s, Jeremy has experienced the growing-pains of U.S. soccer, particularly in the Central Valley. His trajectory as a player, coach, and manager provides us with an opportunity to reflect on the development of soccer in Fresno over the past four … [Read more...]

Migrant Dreams and Soccer Journeys

Below a crisp blue sky lies an open field of green. Its perfectly trimmed Bermuda grass is a uniform hue, devoid of light greens and browns. This bed is framed by two sets of rounded goal posts with white nets that cut through space with the precision of a spider's web. Every element of this spatial configuration is deliberate, conducive to its purpose of playing soccer in as perfect form as possible. Under the direction of Juan Sanchez, the Mount San Antonio Community College soccer team has come pretty close to perfection. This San Gabriel Valley based college squad is one of the best the state, winning the state championship four times and national championship twice. Each year, Juan … [Read more...]

Sipping on the Indian Haterade: Hindu American Whiteness and Support for Trump

Unlike other communities of color in the United States, it has not been so easy for South Asian Americans to organize and act as one.  The very complexity of South Asia and the myriad of internal politics make mobilization a difficult issue.   Even during my time in Atlanta conducting ethnographic research on the South Asian American sporting community, organizations like South Asians for Unity struggled to collectively engage the heterogeneous ethnic, class, and religious South Asian American community in Atlanta.  Sikh American elders and I (a Christian Tamil) shared a sentiment of feeling minimally included in the discussions about peace on the subcontinent. Thus, even the coming … [Read more...]

Colin Kaepernick’s Critics Only Care about Symbolism and Ignore Substance

As for many American boys, sports were a staple of my life growing up in the 90s and it was rare to hear about contemporary athletes taking stands on political or social issues. Sure, there was Mohammed Ali, Jim Brown, John Carlos and Tommie Lee, but that was a different era and the urgency that impelled their activism seemed out of place at the time (in the mind of a white, middle class kid). The reigning most-famous athlete in the world at the time, one Michael Jordan, made it clear that he was not interested in wading into politics. When asked to support Harvey Gantt, an African American running against racist Republican North Carolina Senator Jesse Helms in 1990, Jordan reportedly (and … [Read more...]

Kaepernick’s Protest Gesture and the Militarization of Professional Sports

Colin Kaepernick’s recent gesture has shaken up the sports world because he has refused to take part in one of professional, and amateur-level, sports’ most normalized rituals: the playing of the national anthem. The gesture has made an impact not solely because he is denouncing the current state of US race relations, but because his gesture exposes some of the real contradictions in professional sports as key sites for normalizing nationalism, militarism, hetero-normative-patriarchy, and social darwinist ideology. This nexus is perhaps best described as the militarization of professional sport. Spending too much time watching professional sporting events might even lead one to believe … [Read more...]

Hmong Youth, American Football, and the Cultural Politics of Ethnic Sports Tournaments

For Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, ToM is featuring two excerpts from the new anthology, Asian American Sporting Cultures from New York University Press. In the first, Constancio Arnoldo Jr. examines Filipino ideas about masculinity and identity through boxer Manny Pacquiao. (See also our recent post on the intersection between boxing, Los Angeles, and the Philippines: "From Villa to Pacquiao: Filipino Boxing in L.A. and the Power of the Transnational Punch") In our second excerpt, Chia Youyee Vang explores the intersection of Hmong American identity and sport in the United States. The December 12, 2011, edition of Sports Illustrated ran a story titled “How to Become an American.” … [Read more...]

Manny “Pac-Man” Pacquiao, the Transnational Fist, and the Southern California Ringside Community

For Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, ToM is featuring two excerpts from the new anthology, Asian American Sporting Cultures from New York University Press. Here in a chapter excerpt, Constancio Arnoldo Jr. examines Filipino ideas about masculinity and identity through boxer Manny Pacquiao. See also our recent post on the intersection between boxing, Los Angeles, and the Philippines: "From Villa to Pacquiao: Filipino Boxing in L.A. and the Power of the Transnational Punch" One night in December 2009, after taking a five-hour flight from Illinois to California, I had just walked into my brother and sister-in-law’s house in Long Beach. My then two-year-old nephew, all thirty-six inches … [Read more...]

Greenberg to Koufax to Valenzuela: Ethnicity, Identity, and Baseball in “Chasing Dreams”

The 1965 World Series would prove groundbreaking. It marked the first time that two professional baseball teams from west of the Mississippi – the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Minnesota Twins – competed for Major League Baseball’s title. More importantly, it was the stage upon which Sandy Koufax weaved the narrative of his greatness and by extension highlighted Jewish America’s connection to the national pastime. Having sat out Game 1 due to its falling on the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur and then struggling through a less-than-stellar Game 2 outing, Koufax bounced back with magisterial performances in Game 5 and the now-famous Game 7 in which he pitched a complete game shutout, striking out … [Read more...]

From Villa to Pacquiao: Filipino Boxing in L.A. and the Power of a Transnational Punch

Nearly one year ago last may, Manny Pacquiao and Floyd "Money" Mayweather Jr. battled 12 rounds in what was billed as the "fight of the century." The two fighters carried a long history of antagonism into the ring, though perhaps much of this could be attributed to Mayweather, whose trolling of the Filipino boxer over the years sometimes veered into racism. Pacquiao's loss to Mayweather, a unanimous decision, seems unsurprising in retrospect, especially considering the latter's status as arguably the greatest defensive boxer of his generation. Don't cry for Manny though, the Las Vegas fight racked in $400 million. Granted, it's been a tough year for Pacquiao, his homophobic comments a couple … [Read more...]

Black History Month Part II: Reclaiming sporting culture

It's hard to think of a sport more awash in images of blonde blue eyed Californians than surfing. Depiction's of surfing from Bruce Brown's "The Endless Summer", fifty years old this year, trafficked in the idea of white surfers traversing the globe to the astonishment of Asian and African onlookers. The standard had been set by the 1966 classic; films and popular culture followed. Yet as Scott Laderman demonstrates in his recent work Empire in Waves, these images rest on a false narrative, the truth is that white Europeans and Americans appropriated surfing from other cultures and then due to segregation and other forces, cast its image in whiteness.  Others have also questioned the … [Read more...]