“The Black Athlete” page 18, SI 7/1/1968

Black Athlete 18.jpg

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“The Black Athlete” page 18, SI 7/1/1968


expose, black athlete, activism, Willie Worsely, Mike Garrett


On this page, Olsen turns his attention to the other part of the cruel deception: the false promise of success and social uplift that sports provides to black youth. Olsen notes the fall-out from this “meaningless dream” is the emergence of a “new Negro athlete” who has pride in black culture, speaks out for racial justice, and does not equate personal achievement with progress for his entire race. Ronald Fair, a black writer, speaks to the heroic role that athletes play in the black community, and the importance of using that role to speak out. The “new Negro athlete” is vocal about injustice, and Olsen frames this as a recent shift in community expectations. He asserts that a black athlete will lose respect if he “confines his activities to the field.” Sociologist Harry Edwards is critical of those who do not engage in activism, saying “As long as you have black athletes making it to the top and then shutting up like Uncle Willie Mays....well, then, athletics has done very little for the black community. It has helped black individuals to delude themselves, that is all.” The cruel deception, here, is discussed as both a condition of black athletic aspiration, and a product of the silence of successful black athletes. This framework is meant to be profound to white readers, who dislike and discredit black activist athletes.


Katherine Brown


Sports Illustrated. July 1, 1968.


Time Inc.


Katherine Brown, ““The Black Athlete” page 18, SI 7/1/1968
,” Magazines, accessed August 7, 2022, https://omeka.middlebury.edu/magazines/items/show/23.

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