Category Archives: sport

Cannibal Capitalism: performance enhancing drugs

Cannibal capitalism is easy to spot in modern sports.   Contests are broadcast and we are encouraged to consume of the bodies of athletes and comment on their suffering.  To succeed and get paid at the highest levels, many athletes use illegal and dangerous drugs.  It seems transparent to call them ‘performance enhancing drugs’.   The performance is enhanced, often at the health and safety of the athlete.

Al Jazeera has released a potent documentary following the trail of a few illicit pharmacists and doctors who provide illegal sports drug cocktails. It is a tell-all of many recent sports heroes who it is suggested used performance enhancing drugs.

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Filed under capitalism, documentary, drugs, forbidden fruit, health, sport

Cannibal Capitalism: Nate Jackson’s medical records

How do you sustain the gladiators of cannibal capitalism?  The folks whose bodies we consume when they fall?

Keep their medical records from them.

Next to that piece of paper was a file as large as a dictionary that contained my injury history. Every injury I ever had was described somewhere in that file. But I never saw it. It wasn’t my property.

Had I owned that file, that information, I would have had a better idea of what was happening to me. Every treatment was in there. Every report written up by Greek or our team doctors. The results of every physical. And an unbiased report from the off-site imaging center that conducted our post-injury MRIs. These MRI reports contain information of great value to a player, because they are unfiltered. But I never saw the file. As far as I knew, I never even had access to it.

During my football career, I dislocated my shoulder multiple times, separated both shoulders, broke my tibia, broke a rib, broke my fingers, tore my medial collateral ligament in my right knee, tore my groin off the bone, tore my hamstring off the bone twice. I had bone chips in my elbow, bone chips in my ankle, concussions, sub-concussions, countless muscle strains, labral tears in either hip, cumulative trauma in the lower spine, sciatic nerve damage, achilles tendinitis, plantar fasciitis in both feet, blisters—oh the blisters! My neck is bad. My clavicles are misaligned. I probably have brain damage.

via My Injury File: How I Shot, Smoked, And Screwed My Way Through The NFL.

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Cannibal capitalism: Derek Boogaard, hockey and head trauma

Turns out that the 3-part New York Times (you still suck) documentary is available at youtube.  Worth watching for the discussion of representation, violence, and consumption of sports bodies.  Cannibal capitalism – mediated violence where viewers devour the bodies of sports stars who are trading of their bodies for fame.

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Consuming Natives: Kevin Durant Nike edition

I came across this Kevin Durant shoe that seems to scream cultural appropriation to me.

Thanks to the for the image of Nike Kevin Durant shoe.

The shoe raises money for Nike, Kevin Durant and some Native American athletic programs (I assume in that order).  But the description is a toxic collection of generalizations and stereotypes mashed together.


The bold Nike N7 KD VI features the repeating pattern of arrows that first launched on the Pendleton Woolen Mills Nike N7 blanket last month. The arrow print  symbolizes energy and forward motion and has reflective built in for a surprise effect when worn in the elements.  The bold colors used on the KD VI have significant meaning in Native communities. Turquoise is used often as a color symbolic of friendship, and red is one of four colors—yellow, red, black and white—featured on the traditional Native America medicine wheel, representing movement and the four directions. The KD logo appears on the heel and the N7 logo is on the tongue.

via NIKE, Inc. – Nike N7 and Kevin Durant Collaborate to Support Native American Youth.

That is amazing!  Red is a color significant for Native Americans!  Whoa!  It is good to know where that stuff comes from (sarcasm).   How about vague ambiguity when it comes to so-called native symbols and precise articulation of the Kevin Durant logo?

Nike has also developed a wide shoe, the Air Native N7, for Native North American’s supposedly wider feet (they measured 224 indians feet to justify this claim!)  While criticizing the marketing of this shoe, we can lay some of the News from Indian Country analysis against this Kevin Durant shoe press release.

Some vocal opponents of the Air Native N7 believe the shoe line indeed fosters stereotypes because, along with the company’s trademark swoosh, the footwear features feathers, arrowheads, sunset designs and circle of life motifs. Nike officials have said the product is designed to “deliver sustainable innovation,” and the “N7” portion of its name is meant to encourage “a seventh generation ethos.”

“In my opinion, the whole idea is racist,” says Eugene Johnson, a member of the Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians, who’s paid close attention to the development of the shoe line. “This is a branding scheme of advertising that Nike is known for… I have no doubt that the sales folks are hoping that Indian sympathizers and the general public will be thinking of how Nike is so charitable in thinking of the Indians, thus, increasing sales through the usual brand of Nike branding advertising.”

via Does the Shoe Fit? Native Nike footwear raises concerns – Indian Country News.

I happen to agree that the dual marketing benefit of being seen as charitable  to anonymous poor indians helps to sell the shoe as does the appropriation of cultural symbols.  I think the same might be said about this Kevin Durant shoe.

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Filed under cultural appropriation, fashion, health, Native, race, representation, sport

Got privilege? Boston Marathon edition

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Parafoils in Malaysia photo by Amirul Lazan, via Flickr

It is a stunning beautiful day in Humboldt.  Psyched about this article on kites.  I’d quote the cool section about fighting kites in India if I wasn’t going to go outside and fly a kite.

Involves Oklahoma pizza chains, globe traveling kite aficionados, a kite called the ‘skynasaur,’ and more.  Don’t sleep on Lisa Hix’s nice write-up.

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Cannibal capitalism: superbowl edition

I enjoyed reading the saucy narrative invitation of the Rumpus ‘superbowl preview for people who don’t know football’.  But the section on Justin Smith — the wounded SF player reminded me of cannibal capitalism.  I’m understanding this as a move of self-promotion/financial gain via-the-suffering of the body.  Cast as sturdy spirit in this piece, we get a more transparent view than normal about the bodily costs of success in the NFL.

During his first year on the 49ers, Justin’s defensive line coach Jim Tomsula saw him spitting out tooth fragments after a collision with a teammate, and asked if he wanted treatment for the chipped teeth. “Nah,” Justin grunted. “Hell, I got a bunch of ‘em.”

Partially torn triceps are a different realm than chipped teeth, however, and playing through this kind of injury can exact a dear tuition, payable in future surgeries, decades of painkillers, financial insolvency, and for the moment, having a known, exploitable bulls-eye on his right arm.

Former NFL fullback Lorenzo Neal, no stranger to injury in his own Pro Bowl career, spoke to a radio station about what Justin Smith should expect. “Guys are going to be hitting it, chopping it,” Neal said. “The triceps is mostly when you extend. He’ll have one arm to punch with, I think the other arm will be more to grab and wrap and tackle.”

“He’s going to be sore,” Neal adds. “And I know what he can do. They can put him on Toradol.” (Toradol is a potent non-steroidal anti-inflammatory) “Toradol, they inject in your butt. It’s a pain killer, it numbs the pain. You can play through it. Toradol, it’s candy. It was tea for me. I was taking Toradol like I was drinking coffee. You’re tight, you’re sore, and it relieves the pain for those three hours. We’ll see how Justin responds to it.”

We will see, indeed. Former player Akbar Gbaja-Biamila, writing for, recalls, “One veteran player looked at me and said, ‘Take a shot of that and you won’t feel a thing when you play.’ I jumped in line, and that was the beginning of my Toradol dependency. After my first shot, I heard someone yell across the locker room, ‘Once you get on the T-train, you won’t get off.’”

The side effects are well known. Toradol rips up your stomach lining, and can cause vomiting, bloody stool, liver disease, and congestive heart failure. In addition, its pain-masking qualities make the player temporarily ignorant of further injuries endured while under the influence of the drug, with concussions and plantar fasciitis being among the most common collateral “side effects.” So, when the drug wears off, you may have a completely new injury, which can either mean surgery and the potential end of your career, or more drugs, and that’s not a choice that most players think over for too long.

via A Super Bowl Preview For People Who Don’t Know Football (2013 Edition) – The

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Detroit Rubber: shoes and art

I know sneakers are important.  And just ‘cuz I don’t pay attention, doesn’t mean that I don’t know. Y’know.

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Kilian Martin and the elegance of skateboarding


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Rhetoric, sports and ability

Sporting events are exceptionally significant in human culture.  In every corner of the planet kids kick a ball around.  While sports are ever present, we also have to navigate the stories that define what that play means.  Competition, fair play, hard work, hierarchy, teamwork — we are steeped in the narratives that permeates sports stories.  These stories invite participation, and they also exclude.  It is worth considering what happens when the desire to play a sport doesn’t conform to the bodily requirements of that sport.

One punchline for these stories ends with Rudy Ruettiger, the pint-sized Notre Dame football player whose hard work eventually leads the coach to put him in the game.  Another possible ending is for accommodation through the development of a new sport.  Wheelchair rugby comes to mind.

Recent convert to wheelchair racing, Victoria Stagg Elliott wonders why more  people don’t get involved in adaptive sports in an essay at The Rumpus.

What if more runners, when faced with having to hang up their shoes for whatever reason, switched to wheelchair racing rather than cycling or swimming or giving up physical activity completely?

Here’s what I think would happen:

So-called disabled athletes would have more opportunities to participate in able-bodied sports and vice-versa. We would all realize that we are more alike than different, and that playing alone really isn’t very much fun.

via What If Wheelchair Racing Were Just Another Sport? – The

I like Elliot’s take on adaptive sports, and the encouragement for people to simply play.  It seems like sports and play are worthwhile fundamental human desires — it is worth crafting a world where people who wanted to participate in any activity would get the chance.

It also takes a certain amount of work to change sports stories.  With sports the concept of fairness can help to persuade some people to make sports inclusive, but the Title IX separate-but-equal is a predictable pressure release valve.  It seems valuable to push forward on all intellectual fronts to bring forward inclusion.  To support adaptive sports, to fund and celebrate sports communities who become more inclusive, and to engage in sporting play ourselves — regardless of our level of ability.

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Filed under communication, disability, health, human rights, representation, sport