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"The Power of Sports "

  rec 7-25-05  

1) 3:17 Short essay Mp3

2) 4:16 Long Essay Mp3


THE POWER OF SPORTS
====================
[Col. Writ. 7/24/05] Copyright '05 Mumia Abu-Jamal

A recent discussion with a friend, and a recent column on tennis, brought to mind the pervasive power of sports in society.

This is somewhat odd coming from one who isn’t, generally, into sports. Yet who can deny the demonstrative, political power of Muhammad Ali, who, as World Heavyweight Boxing Champ, proudly refused to go fight in Vietnam, with the historic phrase, “No Vietcong ever called me nigger?”.

Similarly, the silent, yet telling demonstration by sprinters John Carlos and Tommie Smith, who, during the 1968 Olympics, gave the Black Power salute on the victory stand, after winning the 200-meter dash sent shock waves through the world of sport, culture, and politics.

Ali, Carlos and Smith, suffered severely for their stands, with Ali being stripped of his title for, perhaps, the best years of his fighting game; and Carlos and Smith were long denied jobs, political and economic revenge for their demonstration on the world's stage.

Although all the men bounced back from social and political repression, perhaps their experience explains the relative silence among today’s athletes, who rarely, if ever, speak out on social and political issues.

Part of this can be attributed to the absence of a broad and deep movement, as occurred in the '60s. Today, star athletes are, more often than not, corporate pitchmen (and women), selling soap, sneakers and dreams.

When a friend told me of being coached by Smith during the '60s, it reminded me of how powerful and progressive a social force sports was back then, and I pondered about then, and now.

The stirring example of Jesse Owens, who, singlehandedly, at the 1936 Berlin Olympics, refuted the lie of white 'Aryan' supremacy by taking four gold medals, comes to mind.

Yet of the present era, there seems to be nothing.

I thought again of the power of sport, when reading of the Roman Empire, specifically, its Eastern half, the Byzantine Empire. There, whenever an emperor was crowned, he was acclaimed by the army, the senate, and lastly, the people, assembled in the Eastern version of the Coliseum, the Hippodrome. But, people, being people, sometimes used the site to launch grievances at their emperors, and often called for the sacking of unpopular government officials.

I was reminded of dissident social power when people, instead of bowing to the emperor’s power, upbraided him! Historian J.B Bury in his 2-volume *History of the Later Roman Empire* (Mineola, N.Y.: Dover, 1958), relates an attempt by Emperor Justinian to pacify and placate the people after days of revolt:

“He appeared in the... Hippodrome with a copy of the Gospels
in his hands, and a large crowd assembled. He swore on the holy
book that he would grant amnesty without any reservations and
comply with the demands of his subjects. But the great part
of the crowd was bitterly hostile. They cried ‘You
are perjuring yourself’... And there were shouts of
‘Long live Hypatius!’ [a senate rival who was offered the crown.]”
[Fr. Bury, (vol. II), p. 43.]

Justinian would hold on to his crown, but almost lost it, because of the Nika revolt (ca. 532 A.D.), begun at the Hippodrome and Constantinople.

I thought of today’s politicians, who throw out balls, and use the presence of sports stars to boost their careers.

I was reminded that whenever and wherever people gather, there is the potential of social power. People don’t have to bow to today’s imperial rulers. Especially when they are waging wars based on lies, and wreaking havoc on a global basis, to enrich the very few.

I was reminded that true democracy means dissent; it doesn’t mean sheepish obedience, an alleged vote every few years, or saluting the emperor because he is the emperor.

It means freedom, or it means nothing.


Copyright 2005 Mumia Abu-Jamal


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The Power of Truth is Final — Free Mumia!

PLEASE CONTACT:
International Concerned Family & Friends of MAJ
P.O. Box 19709
Philadelphia, PA 19143
Phone - 215-476-8812/ Fax - 215-476-6180
E-mail - AND OFFER YOUR SERVICES!

Send our brotha some LOVE and LIGHT at:
Mumia Abu-Jamal
AM 8335
SCI-Greene
175 Progress Drive
Waynesburg, PA 15370

WE WHO BELIEVE IN FREEDOM CAN *NOT* REST!!

Submitted by: Sis. Marpessa