Tuesday, July 19, 2011
There is something missing in this photo of the US soccer team. Can you please identify the missing element? I will give you three options to choose from.
A. Casey Anthony
B. A Transgendered Woman
C. Women of Color
Okay, so these hints are tricky, but if you picked C, you are sort of kind of right. There is one woman, Shannon Box, on the bottom left of the picture, who is from Southern California and is an African-American woman.
This is very problematic because soccer is played mostly by people of color all over the world, and in the USA, with the population being diverse.
Not only is the US Soccer team under-represent the landscape of soccer of the world, but it also mis-represents the milieu of America, once again propagating that America is encompassed of majority white people and a couple of brown and black tokens.
Also, it can be puzzling to learn that in the USA, soccer is an elite institution when it reaches the level of an organized sport.
Of course you see soccer in low wealth communities of color, especially in immigrant communities; but to play and excel in the United States on a larger scale means you have to dish out a lot of resources that include money and time; something that is scarce in working class and communities of color, thus making it rarely accessible to those children whose families reared them to adore the game.
In fact, traveling soccer leagues are not only expensive, but exclusive. There is a recruiting practice, much like the European soccer teams who target people of color to play in the various leagues. Top players are largely plucked from low wealth communities for top notch teams, garnering millions in these teams, but leaving very little in the communities which they came, with the exception of maybe a soccer camp to train future players for Euro leagues.
Meanwhile, players who are not selected are left to kick ratty balls in torn up Keds.
This gets even more disturbing when these players provide vivid stories of racist accounts while playing. Like bananas being thrown on the field or monkey noises being made when a black player is on a certain side of the field.
I have several relatives who have children who play soccer. I must be frank, it is seen as a status to play soccer, and not a common person's game. Something like, hockey on a hot day, minus the uber expensive equipment.
And to make matters worse, the high school I went to, a predominantly African-American school, looked at the game as a third-world sport, and pushed its athletes to play football and basketball. I guess there was more tolerance for concussions and broken limbs, then a healthy set of lungs and a global consciousness.
This beautiful game is also ugly in America.
Oh well, blog on..