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Sports and Slavery: An Objective Comparison

Updated: Jul 21, 2020

To most Americans, sports are their favorite pastime. It's the time when you get to relax, kick back, drink a cold one or scream and yell at the top of your lungs. After all, the word fan is short for fanatic.

Sports gives you the ability to step outside the confines of the real world. Sure. Basketball, football, baseball and countless other sports have taken underprivileged youths and made them millionaires. To many people, sports is a savior. It's a means to an end; it signals the dawn of a new day.

Let me play devil's advocate. What if I told you that sports model an old institution and that very institution is slavery? 

Now, I know some of you are reading this and thinking: You can't be serious. SLAVERY? These guys are getting paid millions of dollars, living fancy lives and they aren't being whipped or beaten. Slavery was not a choice, but playing sports is a choice…

And you would be correct. All of that is true.

Although, prison is the closest thing to modern day slavery in this country. There was no such thing as jail until the abolishment of slavery. Over one-third of the population in prisons are filled with Black Americans providing the states with free labor. While incarcerated, they are never truly rehabilitated. So, a majority of them repeat the same cycle and land back in jail— making the rich, richer. 

By making an objective comparison, we take out personal feelings and judgements and base things solely on facts. Some may see it one way, and others may see it totally opposite. 

Now, let's look deeper. 

I'm going to give you some correlations on how sports and slavery closely resemble each other. In history, we're taught slaves were brought to this country against their will. They were taken to auction blocks. At these public displays, slaves were checked for weight, height, strength, endurance and durability. Once this was complete, they were sold to the highest bidder. They were then taken to the plantation to work the fields and do whatever else their master needed done. Making his or her master wealthy— all while building a whole country off of free labor. 

The biggest and strongest slaves were often referred to as bucks or mandingos. These were the masters’ prized possession. They were often taken to other plantations to fight to the death against others like them. If a slave was caught trying to better himself by learning to read, or trying to escape, he was beaten and shamed publicly. When he was old and no longer useful, he was given a role even less valuable, sold away or even worse killed. 

What does this have to do with sports?

Well, I'm here to tell you. It has everything to do with sports. I just described to you the inner workings of slavery, now let me walk you through the architecture of sports.

Just as slavery was not a choice for some, sports aren't either. For some, this is the only option they have to make it out of daunting circumstances. To make this easier to follow, let's use football as our muse. About 70% of the players in the NFL are Black. They are by far a vast majority of the workforce, BUT ownership is all white, and almost every coach and GM as well. 

If we are truly in a new age, shouldn't the things we do the most indicate the change we want to see?

It’s a change we all should long for. Now, back to our comparisons. After a player finishes college (gets off the boat), he attends a sporting combine. Here, they measure your weight, height, strength, endurance and durability (auction block). From there, he enters the draft where he will be selected by one of 32 teams (sold to the highest bidder). He is then the property of that franchise where he will make his new owner (master) millions and billions playing on his football field (plantation). If the player is a superstar (buck or mandingo), the owner praises him— promoting him as he takes the team, weekly, to play against other franchises (plantations). Once the athlete tries to better himself or speak out and use his voice, he is shamed, told to just pass the ball and shut up, or run and score touchdowns. They are called locker room dividers, bad teammates or thugs and hooligans. They are also attacked by the media. 

No, this isn't the same as being beaten or lynched. Abuse is more than physical; it's mental as well. Once a player is past his prime, he is asked to take a pay cut, becomes traded, released or worse, out of the league completely (in favor of the new buck). The sad thing is you can apply this model to any sport. They all have similar models of how they are governed. Yes… yes, I know this is not slavery. These guys are paid handsomely. They are afforded luxuries most people only dream of; but, just for a second, close your eyes and envision all the parallels that exist between the two and ask yourself is this coincidence or an obscured design. 

All of this is truly in the eyes of the beholder. I'm just a guy with a pen and the nerves to write things most people only think. Here at Outside The Matrix, we don't look for controversy, we value conversation. We don't promote division, we strive for equality. No subject is off limits as we welcome ALL opinions. We are not afraid to be different to make a difference.  

Peace, love and blessings. 

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