Mexican Americans and Sports: A Reader on Athletics and Barrio Life

Mexican Americans and Sports: A Reader on Athletics and Barrio Life

Mexican Americans and Sports: A Reader on Athletics and Barrio Life

Mexican Americans and Sports: A Reader on Athletics and Barrio Life

Synopsis

For at least a century, across the United States, Mexican American athletes have actively participated in community-based, interscholastic, and professional sports. The people of the ranchos and the barrios have used sport for recreation, leisure, and community bonding. Until now, though, relatively few historians have focused on the sports participation of Latinos, including the numerically preponderant Mexican Americans. This volume gathers an important collection of such studies, arranged in rough chronological order, spanning the period from the late 1920s to the present. They survey and analyze sporting experiences and organizations, as well as their impact on communal and individual lives. Contributions spotlight diverse fields of athletic endeavor: baseball, football, soccer, boxing, track, and softball. Mexican Americans and Sports contributes to the emerging understanding of the value of sport to minority populations in communities throughout the United States. Those interested in sports history will benefit from the book's focus on under-studied Mexican American participation, and those interested in Mexican American history will welcome the insight into this aspect of the group's social history.

Excerpt

On September 4, 2002, an exposé appearing on the ESPN website probably caught many auto-racing fans throughout the country by surprise. The title of Jerry Bonkowski’s article “NASCAR Aims to Attract Hispanics” is simple, yet it describes the new demographic, social, economic, and sporting realities of life in the United States in the twenty-first century. The article details the attempt by “a sport with roots steeped in the South” to engage a whole new fan base. The numbers Bonkowski cites are difficult for marketing executives to dismiss: Spanish speakers are projected to constitute approximately 20 percent of the national populace by 2020, and, by 2050, that figure is expected to reach 25 percent. The potential benefits of increasing the attraction of auto racing to this population are spelled out by Eddie Gossage, chief overseer of the Texas Motor Speedway (in the Dallas–Fort Worth area): “It’s very important to us to make our sport more open and aggressively promote to the minority community….So, we do things like produce press releases in Spanish, produce ads for Hispanic newspapers, have promotions with local Hispanic businesses, work with all of the Spanish media outlets….We’ve identified the Hispanic market as a very key market.”

According to Bonkowski, NASCAR has taken a two-pronged approach at the corporate level in order to increase its Hispanic fan base. First, manage-

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