On this edition of In Black America, producer/host John L. Hanson Jr. speaks with Howard Bryant, ESPN senior writer, NPR’s Weekend Edition contributor and author of Full Dissidence: Notes From an Uneven Playing Field. Whether the issues are protests, labor, patriotism, or class division, it’s clear that professional sports are no longer simply fun and games.

In his book, Bryant talks about the player-owner relationship, the militarization of sports, the myth of integration and the erasure of African-American identity as a condition of success.

The UT baseball stadium is empty on a summer evening.
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Pandemic or not, for better or worse, organized sports in the U.S. are bounding their way back to a field, court and television near you. For months, sports fans have substituted live sports for Michael Jordan documentaries, celebrity video gaming and competitive cornhole to fill the void. But soon things will be different.

Babs Lombard

From Texas Standard:

In late April, Tate Lombard was named the newest head coach of the girls basketball team at his alma mater – Canyon High School — in the Panhandle. It’s a great job, especially for a young coach like Tate, who is 36.

But it comes with pressure.

Texas Athletes Adapt To A Postponed Olympic Games

Mar 25, 2020
Frankie Fouganthin/Wikimedia Commons (CC BY SA 4.0)

From Texas Standard:

Vincent Hancock had planned to practice on Tuesday. The Fort Worth resident is a two-time Olympic gold medalist in skeet shooting. Following a routine is part of his success, and practicing on Tuesday was part of the routine. But then he got to the range.

“I shot one round and … I was like, you know what, it’s not even worth it for me to be out here right now because I’m not into this,” Hancock said.

Living In A Sportsless World

Mar 19, 2020
Gabriel C. Pérez/KUT

From Texas Standard:

Whatever sporting event you were most looking forward to this spring, it is cancelled. Baseball, football, tennis, golf – for the time being, it's all done.

There are certainly more critical issues when it comes to the consequences of the coronavirus, but, for perhaps the first time ever, we're living in a sportsless society.

swimfinfan from Chicago/ Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA)

From Texas Standard:

Though the last NFL football game of the season was played just a month ago, the league still makes news in the off-season.

Daron Roberts is founding director of the Center for Sports Leadership and Innovation at the University of Texas at Austin, and a former NFL and college football coach. He says the NFL combine held each February is no longer just an opportunity for teams to audition the best players. The workouts and drills during the event have also become a fan-facing event, broadcast live by the NFL.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT

From Texas Standard:

The line between sport and art has always been blurred when it comes to bullfighting. It's called the “ballet of death,” and matadors, like professional dancers, require immense athleticism, stage presence and talent to master a skill that goes back centuries.

The XFL Is Back. Will The Reboot Work?

Feb 7, 2020

From Texas Standard:

There’s a long tradition of startup football leagues trying to snatch a piece of the football pie from the NFL.

So far, they’ve all failed. The World Football League, the American Football Association, the United Football League, the USFL – all of them fell flat in an effort to carve out an enduring niche in pro football.

United Nations Photo/Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

In the boxing ring he was known as "Big George." But today, most people know George Foreman for his business ventures. Foreman has helped sell millions of George Foreman Grills, which were first introduced in 1994 and are still on the market today.

NBA Expands Its G League With Mexico City Capitanes

Dec 17, 2019
Daniel Case/Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0)

From Texas Standard:

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver announced last week the Mexico City-based Capitanes will be joining the NBA G League beginning in the 2020-21 season.

UIL Realignment Spells Big Changes For Small Schools

Dec 6, 2019
KaleenaBurt /Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 4.0)

From Texas Standard:

Every two years, the University Interscholastic League – better known as the UIL – realigns the state’s public schools for extracurricular competitions. Big schools play other big schools, little schools play other little schools. Realignment aims to keep that balance as schools lose or gain students.

Brian Reading /Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0)

From Texas Standard:

On Monday, California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed the Fair Pay to Play Act into law. The measure entitles college athletes in the Golden State to make money from their name, image and likeness, including through endorsement deals or jersey sales. Those opportunities are currently forbidden under NCAA rules.

TankedBevo of Commons (CC BY 2.5)

From Texas Standard:

Plenty of issues divide Texans, but there are a few topics on which many can find common ground. They might include barbecue, Willie Nelson and the Tyler Rose – Earl Campbell.

Michael Marks/Texas Standard

From Texas Standard:

Wednesday night, the San Antonio Spurs beat the Dallas Mavericks in the final regular season game for each team. After, Dallas forward Dirk Nowitzki answered questions from the press. Nowitzki is used to press conferences; he's attended plenty during his 21 seasons in the NBA. But this one was different because it was his last. Nowitzki had announced his retirement just the day before.

Texas Standard's Michael Marks was at the game, and says he bought his ticket to the Maverick’s last game months ago in case Nowitzki planned to retire. Marks grew up in the Dallas area, and says Nowitzki was his sports hero.

Miguel Gutierrez Jr. / KUT

A new clear-bag policy is slated to begin Aug. 30 at Austin Independent School District home games. Only clear plastic, vinyl or PVC bags will be allowed into sporting events.

It's "all about safety," AISD Athletic Director Leal Anderson said.


On this edition of In Black America, producer/host John L. Hanson Jr. speaks Howard Bryant, senior writer for and ESPN The Magazine,  sports correspondent for NPR's Weekend Edition, and author of The Heritage: Black Athletes, a Divided America, and the Politics of Patriotism.

Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0)

From Texas Standard.

For 20 years, Rafael Palmeiro terrorized major league pitchers. The hard-hitting left-hander from Miami by way of Cuba is one of only six players to record over 3,000 hits and 500 home runs in his career. That’s part of a resume that could make most ball players proud.

Ed Schipul/Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

From Texas Standard.

Last week, one writer described the hysteria and and hype in Houston right now as on a scale somewhere between anticipation for the Super Bowl and the new Avengers movie. So to say Houstonians and Texans further afield are pumped for what starts Monday night in Space City may be an understatement as the hometown Rockets take on the Golden State Warriors in the first game of the NBA’s western conference finals.

The Hathi Trust Digital Library/Wikimedia Commons [Public domain]

From Texas Standard.

It’s time once again for what they call the most exciting two minutes in sports. The 144th running of the Kentucky Derby will happen this Saturday. / Korean Culture and Information Service /Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 2.0)

From Texas Standard.

The 2018 Winter Olympics will feature many athletes from the Lone Star State. Most will compete for the U.S., but a few represent other countries, to which they have ties. And their chances of success are as varied as the sports in which they will compete.

Houston Chronicle Sports Reporter David Barron says the odds of reaching the podium are not overwhelmingly in speed skater Jonathan Garcia’s favor.

Prayitno/Flickr Creative Commons

From Texas Standard.

In most parts of the United States, it’s illegal to gamble on sports. Casinos and sportsbooks in Nevada – where it’s legal – took in over $4.5 billion in wagers in 2016 alone.

Now it seems that the NBA wants a piece of the action. The League is asking Congress to legalize sports betting nationwide. According to the NBA proposal, people would be able to place bets on their smartphones or at in-stadium kiosks, and the League would take one percent of every transaction.

Martin do Nascimento / KUT

The Circuit of the Americas racetrack has raised Austin's profile as an international destination for top-tier racing.

This story is not about that kind of racing.

Bex_X_Pi (CC BY-NC 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick said that by taking a knee during "The Star-Spangled Banner," he's protesting racial injustice and police brutality. The idea was to spark a national conversation about these issues.

Other players have joined Kaepernick, not just in San Francisco and not just in the NFL. Athletes across the country, competing at different levels, are taking a knee – including high school football players in Texas


frolicsomepl/Pixabay (Public Domain)

From Texas Standard:

Katie Meili, a 25-year-old from North Texas, took home the bronze medal this week in the 100-meter breaststroke at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

But Meili might have placed even higher on the podium. Yulia Efimova of Russia won the silver medal. Efimova has failed multiple tests for performance-enhancing drugs. She was initially banned from the Olympics because of the failed tests, but the International Olympic Committee ultimately allowed her to compete.

Efimova's participation in the games, as with many Russian athletes, was controversial. Doping isn't new, It’s been around for decades, but advances in drug testing methods and technologies haven't kept illicit drugs away from elite athletics.


Pierre-Yves Beaudouin/Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 4.0)

From Texas Standard:

In the 2012 Olympics, Leo Manzano won a silver medal in the 1500 meter race. It was the first time a member of Team USA medaled in the race since 1968.

“One of the best things about medaling at the Olympics is being able to represent the United States and also representing my heritage as well,” Manzano says.


Flickr/Visit El Paso (CC BY 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

Fifty years ago, the NCAA men's basketball tournament started with just 22 teams in the first round. When it came down to the championship game: on one side was the all-white Kentucky basketball team, as most college basketball teams were at the time; the challenger was Texas Western, an all-black team from El Paso – the university has since become the University of Texas at El Paso, or UTEP.

Image via Pixabay/jarmoluk (Public Domain)

From Texas Standard:

Tonight at the AT&T Center in San Antonio, the owners of the new U. S. soccer team, the Spurs Sports & Entertainment group, are set to make a big announcement. But before they do, let's discuss what's in a name when it comes to sports teams.

Photo via Office of the Attorney General

From Texas Standard:

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has vowed to beat the odds and quash online sports gambling. Even if you don't play daily fantasy sports, you've probably encountered the names of the sites: Draft Kings, Fan Duel. They advertise incessantly so you might be tempted to admit that's a measure of their prominence and popularity.

Despite that popularity, those sites may soon be gone from Texas. Paxton says sites that charge players to compete cannot operate legally in the state.

Image courtesy of Richard Lord

David Bowie’s passing has stirred many memories. For most of us, we’re left with how his music made us feel. But for one Austinite, Bowie left a different impression — one shaped like boxing gloves.

Photo via Flickr/thepaco (CC BY-NC 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

The race to keep horse racing alive in Texas is on its last leg. The latest battle in the war between the legislature and the industry involves an accusation that Texas is using an unconstitutional maneuver to threaten the viability of racing.