Sunday, December 09, 2007

A Sporting Dilemma.

Sometimes real life won't let you forget the stuff you debate on the Internet.

Last night I caught the Pretty Boy Floyd Ricky Hatton championship fight, and I found myself cheering for my man Pretty Boy to win. Of course that wasn't hard, he is one of my favorite fighters, who I think is right up there with Sugar Ray Leonard as an all time great in his weight division (now watch all the e-mails and nasty comments I get from the folks in Maryland) and I always go for the classic boxer over the brawler. But then I got to thinking: If you follow the "Border Negro's" logic, shouldn't I have been cheering for Hatton? After all, I was born in Jamaica pre-independence so that would make me a British subject no? Shouldn't I then be supporting the Englishman over the A-merry-can? And what about the Black Brits on the other side of the pond? Who were they cheering for? The black man who shared their race, or their fellow country man?

This is one of those age old questions that sports often forces us to confront. When two different sides or individuals are competing, who is your gut telling you to cheer for? When it's your hometown sports team it's usually pretty easy and cut and dry. You are cheering for your hometown team regardless of their racial makeup, or that of the other team. But sometimes it gets a little murky especially where individual sports are concerned. Would the "Border Negro" cheer for a white A-merry-can boxer over a black one from England? I suspect that the "Border Negro" would. But then I must ask myself: Would I cheer for a white Jamaican over an African A-merry-can in a similar event?

I bet most white A-merry-cans, if they are honest, will tell you that they were cheering for Hatton last night. If they are honest. Well, I take that back. I don't think Irish Americans were cheering for him. I have learned this since living here in Philly, and since going to enough Irish bars with the picture of the Queen at the bottom of the urinals. That if it's one thing an Irishman hates is an Englishman, or anything having to do with those damn Brits. It's why the Philadelphia Flyers with their predominantly orange uniforms will never get the Irish support in this town that the Eagles with their green unis get. But I seriously digress. Italians tell me all the time that if it's an Italian athlete in the ring it's a wrap. They are cheering for him no matter what country he is from. It's why Arturo Gatti 's fights were always so popular in this area. Forget Ali, or Joe Louis; to the Italian A-merry-can, Rocky Marciano was the greatest ever. Forget Mays, Ruth, and Mantle; to the Italian A-merry-can, Joe Dimaggio was the greatest baseball player ever. Just ask one and see the answer you get.

But that's cool, that's ethnic and racial pride, and I have no problem with that. If you are white and you want to cheer for the white fighter, cheer on. But what about the "Border Negro", who does he cheer for? The fighter or athlete that represents his country, or the one that represents his race? I am going to confess; when the Jamaican track team or the "Reggae Boyz" compete I damn near always cheer for them. I take that back. I always cheer for them. But that's easy, the Jamaican teams always share my racial identity as well as a birth place. But what would be the case if those teams had all white players and they were competing against teams with black players from A-merry-ca? Who would I cheer for then? Then I would have to say in all honesty that I would probably find myself cheering for the A-merry-can team. The team that shares my racial heritage. But should the "Border Negro" ask himself the same question, I am not so sure his answer would be the same.

I had a friend in high school who was from a little town in Jamaica with a very large German population. All the people from this town looked white, but considered themselves Jamaican. My high school was also a boarding school, and we had kids from all over the world whose parents were more than likely Jamaican but who had migrated to other countries and sent their kids back to Jamaica to go to school. There were many African A-merry-can kids who were born and raised in places like New York, but were on the rock to attend school. Franz Neuman, (his real name because I have no idea where he is now. I think he is in Canada somewhere) my German Jamaican running buddy would always be into some kind of shit or another. He was somewhat of a bad ass, and was always getting into shit with people. So after my debate with the Border Negroes yesterday I found myself thinking about Franz. What if Franz was in a serious ass fight with one of his African A-merry-can born classmates and was getting his ass kicked? Would I jump in and get his back? Well yeah, with Franz that's easy, he was my friend, so maybe I would have. But what if he wasn't my friend? This would be the classic dilemma wouldn't it? White Jamaican getting his ass kicked by black A-merry-can, do I step in then?

I challenged the "Border Negroes", so I must also challenge myself. Honestly, I think I would let him get his ass kicked, but then, I don't know. It might also depend on whether the A-merry-can kicking his ass was a "Border Negro" or not.


Christopher said...

I tend to root for the underdog.

Not sure what this says about me but like last night on the UFC Finale on Spike, I was pulling for the farmboy, Tommy Speer, who is too poor for a trainer (he worked for his parents on their farm to help them keep Mr. Bankman away) and pulled tires around on ropes for cardio training and he didn't have the mouth or the wins or the advantages as did Mac Danzig.

Unfortunately, Danzig won.

Mes Deux Cents said...

Hi FN,

My favorite sport is Track or Athletics as the rest of the world would say. I have cheered for a Black runner from another country when they are competing against a White American runner.

What does that make me? Well I'm not sure.

I don't know if this would extent to other sports but I think I would generally support the Black athlete.

If an African American athlete was competing against a Black athlete from another country, then it would boil down to the two individuals. I would support Ethiopian runner Meseret Defar over an African American runner for example.

So I guess the next question is can I envision supporting a White athlete over a Black one. Yes because I have cheered Jeremy Wariner (A white 400 metre runner) when he competed against African American runners.

So what does that make me?


field negro said...

mes deux cents, I think you are like christopher; you have an underdog jones :)

Although if that was the case, why Jeremy Wariner? If he is the Texan that Michael Johnson used to train, isn't he considered one of the top quarter milers in the world?

Mes Deux Cents said...


I'm not so sure I could be categorized as a supporter of the underdog; After all I enjoy seeing Tiger Woods kick-butt on Sunday afternoons.

I think I support people based on who I perceive them to be. Sometimes that has to do with personality and other times to do with their excellence.

I'm not sure if Michael Johnson ever trained Wariner, but Michael is his agent. And Jeremy Wariner is the number one 400 metre runner in the world at the moment.

One more thing, who won the fight last night?


JP said...

Pretty Boy Floyd in a KO in 10 rounds.

Robert E. Morgan, Jr. said...

I had my melanin challenged friend over for a few beers and the fight. My wife and his wife were upstairs watching a Tyler Perry marathon of M'dea. His wife comes down just in time for the knock out and voices her disgust at seeing Hatton getting pounded. Her husband quickly tells her that Hatton is British and it doesn't matter. You always go for your race, always no matter what color. Race first Nationality second. I was amazed when "Pretty Boy" came in the ring to the sounds of The Boss, what no Fifty?

Anonymous said...

"I was amazed when "Pretty Boy" came in the ring to the sounds of The Boss, what no Fifty?" remorji

Exactly! The Boss is alright; and i'm not into commercial rap that much. But for a show-off, over-the-top, and corrupt sport like boxing, Pretty Boy Floyd dancing to the ring as fitty gets welcomed "At the candy shop" would either get me ready for boxing or get me wishing I could get some upgrading by Beyonce!

Christopher said...

With team sports -- baseball anyway, there's no thrill like watching Jorge Posada shut down a steal with a precision pitch from homeplate to second, or A-Rod hit a grandslam, or Jeter do one of his signature ballet-like in-air spins to complete a relay and get out the runner at first.

As much as I love the Yankees, sometimes they seem like overpaid babies and the drama, honey, the drama makes me nuts.

Just shut up and play ball!

Lola Gets said...

I always root for the underdog. But dude, can you please take down the chicken pic? Makes me want to cry and vomit at the same time!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this post, FN. You are a scholar and a gentleman, always willing to engage people and to struggle with the issues. You are a credit to your ethnicity--and to African Americans--as a new convert. Indeed, given that you said that you could have been born anywhere, if you continue and perform well a thousand more times, I might petition to have you welcomed as an honorary Detroit--the highest honor in my book.

Anyway, if one follows the logic attributed to "border negroes," one should not be surprised that a black immigrant identifies with African Americans when African Americans are in a positive dominant position. That's exploitation at its finest.

Solidarity is tested in times of adversity--or when there is need to buck dominant trends.

For me, there is never a dilemma. I always go black--over home team, etc.

In track and field, I even sometimes cheer for Jamaican and Bahamanian runners over African American runners.

I do so to promote a picture of pan-african might: everywhere black people are great.

I also do it to undermine the prevailing sense that the white power backing is needed for success. (Also, the Jamaican uniforms can be so cute.)

But this is the way of African Americans, kind to a fault.

DJ said...

You're making me feel old, Field, and I'm only 26!

The last boxer I ever cheered for was Lennox Lewis. Black and British.

I remember one fight when he was fighting a white American, and Lennox knocked the guy down. The guy got up but was swaying so bad that after the 8 count the ref was like "Forget it man. You're done!" I had never seen a guy beaten so badly that the ref wouldn't even let the guy keep fighting. After that, I was a fan.

After the Tyson fight, though, I haven't watched much boxing.

Muze said...

interesting post. i'm not a 'border negro', lol, but i do this all the time. i am a big fan, player and coach of women's volleyball, so when i watch the collegiate level or even the professional level, i always go for the team that is black or has the most black girls, regardless of what country. i didn't even notice i did this until i read this post. wow. lol.

field negro said...

"I also do it to undermine the prevailing sense that the white power backing is needed for success. (Also, the Jamaican uniforms can be so cute.)"

Thank Puma for that :)

You too are a gentleman sir. A misguided one at times but a gentleman never the less.

"I might petition to have you welcomed as an honorary Detroit--the highest honor in my book."

Having spent some time as a child in East Lansing, I think I would be worthy :)

Ann Brock said...

Field I think we root for the race 1st. Look at the Williams sister when they play, they are American but the crowd will choose the other country over them.

Francis Holland said...

I generally cheer for the Black boxer, and I don't care what country he's from. If a Black Cuban boxer fights a white American boxer, I definitely cheer for the Black Cuban boxer, because he's Black and because the infant mortality rate in Cuba is one third of the infant mortality rate for Blacks in the United States.

Meanwhile, check out this article: White Disarray Over Iraq Highlights White Disunity, Dysfunctional White Leadership

Unknown said...

I watched all the matches in the last world cup. When Americans were playing some european country then I supported the American team. Enter the African teams and my loyalty shifted to African teams until they were eliminated then I was for Brazil and when they were kicked out then my loyalty shifted to the team with more black players -Italy vs. France- guess who I was cheering for? France of course! They had so many blacks on the team it might as well have been an African team.

SagaciousHillbilly said...

Interesting post Field. It illustrates the complexity of the assumptions we make and loyalties we assume.
I've loved watching Ricky Hatten over the years. MY people are Welsh and English. I like to root for the English guy. . . like Lennox Lewis. Joe Calzaghe is going to kick some major American ass when he decides to get his ass out of Wales and fight the world. But yea, I will often root for the American fighter over some other like those big ugly Keishko boys and their eastern European brothers. . . you know how those people are. . .

SagaciousHillbilly said...

Interesting post Field. It illustrates the complexity of the assumptions we make and loyalties we assume.
I've loved watching Ricky Hatten over the years. MY people are Welsh and English. I like to root for the English guy. . . like Lennox Lewis. Joe Calzaghe is going to kick some major American ass when he decides to get his ass out of Wales and fight the world. But yea, I will often root for the American fighter over some other like those big ugly Keishko boys and their eastern European brothers. . . you know how those people are. . .

David Sullivan said...

If I've got $$$ on the line I root for the winner, no matter the race, ethnicity, nothin'. I'll even take the asswipe Yankees if I think they have the best chance of making me some money.

That said, when it comes to sports nationalism will always prevail.

But skin color? Depends. Jerry Cooney was a white dude of Irish heritage, but to me was a complete joke. I rooted for him to get his block knocked off!! I root for Tiger Woods against all golfers (then again, he isn't Black, he's Caublinasian, lol). I am not some bleeding heart liberal with the "I see no color" mantra, but in this case color makes no difference to me. Sports are objective and not subjective (the person that wins is the best) and it is the an arena where color doesn't matter to me.

Christopher Chambers said...

Is that Mandeville in Jamaica? My Dad's cousin married a woman from up there and yeah, they are have a little goosestepping-panzer driver in them.

Anonymous said...

I am always down for black people regardless of where I live! Field, as you know, I live in England and trust, there was so much hype about this fight here...People in the media were romanticising it so much cos Hatton comes from humble Northern England roots...Whatever! Power to the Blacks worldwide despite the fact I am not even African-American :)

Chris said...

I was rooting for Hatton just because I think he's a cool jackass.

Unknown said...

Wow great post as I am a boxing fan. I guess in answer to your post, well it depends. I have rooted for Golota against Bowe, Lewis against Holyfield, Tito against Delahoya and Delahoya against Vargas. Having said that I usually cheer for the black fighter i.e. Tito against anyone, Pretty Boy against anyone and Roy Jones Jr against anyone. Having said that I cheered for Golata except when he fought Tyson and I cheered for Klitchko against Lewis but I cheered for Samuel Peter against the younger Klitchko.

Y'know come to think of it, because I am a boxing fan I think I look at styles that appeal to me rather than always looking at a fighters race. Also, I tend to go against hype when it seems unwarranted. I rooted for Pretty Boy because there was a ridiculous notion (at least to me) that Hatton, who was the shorter, slower less skilled fighter, had a decent chance to beat Mayweather simply based on the fact that he was considered "one of the guy's". Notwithstanding the racial implications of how the fighters were portrayed (and Mayweather does play into that-fight promotion anyone?)if you know anything about the fight game and had seen both of them fight, you knew that Mayweather was gonna beat that ass. I also take into account who the network wants to win. I remember when Lennox Lewis fought Michael Grant, it was obvious that HBO wanted Grant (he's black) to win and hyped him beyond all sense. Grant's last fight saw him getting drilled by Golota before Golota, being the headcase he is, quit. Based on that I thought there was no way he could win. Lewis destroyed him in 1 or 2 rounds. Sigh. Sorry, this is to much info. Peace.

field negro said...

Christopher, Mandeville is MY hometow. Franz was from St.Elizabeth. Close :)

"..I think he's a cool jackass"

Chris, I agree with that one.

aulelia, how are things on the other side of the pond? We missed you chile :)

awb, you sound like a fight fan. Shoot me an e-mail before the next big fight. I might need some tips.

RedLipstick said...

FN: I just returned from visiting in-laws and friends in London. The Black Africans and West Indians were all cheering for the Pretty Boy. My cabbie [from Dominica] said the white British were really let down but he seemed genuinely pleased that the brother won.

Chris said...

Anybody catch Bernard Hopkins' quote about not letting a 'white boy' beat him? Pathetic.

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