Sunday, June 7, 2009

On slavery and Sundays

The idea of comparing professional sports to slavery in any context makes me uncomfortable.

Very uncomfortable.

Which is probably why I had a tough time sitting through former NFL player Anthony Prior’s diatribe against pro football as a tease for his book, The Slave Side of Sunday, released in 2006. In the book, Prior seeks to make the case that the NFL owes much of its health and popularity to institutional racism and suppressing dissent from its players, many of them black.

“Black players have created a billion-dollar market but have no voice in the industry, no power. That sounds an awful lot like slavery to me,” Prior said in an interview.

Maybe Prior has a point. And Prior is dead-on about some of the problems that afflict black athletes who pursue fame and wealth on the gridiron, particularly a single-minded drive that leaves many of them ill-prepared for life without football.

“Your body has limitations,” he reminds. “Your mind doesn’t.”


Unfortunately, Prior’s message is obscured by a very evident bitterness about his 11-year experience in the NFL. For all I know, Prior earned that bitterness honestly. However, combined with the wearisome invocation of slavery in reference to mere games, Prior makes it hard to consider this other side of Sunday.

But give him a chance, if only because his argument is a compelling one. Also make sure to check out the speech from sportswriter Dave Zirin that follows Prior. Thought-provoking is the word that comes to mind.

dap to Max Reddick.

x-posted from weekend endorsements at PostBourgie.

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