Sports

Mess Hall

The most violent sport on earth is holding its championship game in Miami and thousands of tourists – 330,000 by some counts – will be descending on South Florida for the Super Bowl. Miami will host it for a record eleventh time, cementing its role as the league’s preferred venue for the big game.

A cursory look at just a few local stories in recent days show why Miami is so coveted by organizers. From subsidized hotel rooms for the millionaire players of teams owned by billionaires, to phantom events raking in millions from city coffers, the mendacious opportunism of our municipal leaders is legendary. But, this year brings more than the usual grifters, plane-loads of shoulder pads, helmets and bright lights.

Coupled with the prospect of a President who could be removed from office before next Sunday’s kickoff and our own County Mayor announcing a run for Congress with an endorsement from the embattled President last week, the first visit of the San Francisco 49ers to Miami since one Colin Kaepernick donned a cotton t-shirt featuring Malcom X and Fidel Castro is the perfect chance to examine the undercurrents driving the country’s increasing level of inequality and polarization.

MIAMI, FL – Jan 31: Indoor Super Bowl LIV billboard at the InterContinental Hotel in Miami, Florida on January, 31, 2020 | PHOTO CREDIT: Raul Diego for deepcitychronicles ©2020 Deep City Chronicles. All Rights Reserved.

Even as poisonous invectives were lobbed at Kaepernick in 2016 for supporting “the dictatorship”, Carlos Giménez was getting ready to institute Trump’s anti-immigration policies, distinguishing himself as the first Mayor in the entire country to drop Miami’s status as a Sanctuary City, in accordance with Trump’s EO and publicly defending the detention of thousands of undocumented children at the Homestead detention facility.

“If you tried to do this in Cuba, you would be in jail!”, was the painfully ironic refrain used by many of Kaepernick’s Cuban-American detractors. The former 49ers quarterback’s message of resistance to the Black community through the use of symbols known for their defiance of America’s historical oppression of marginalized populations at home and abroad, was studiously ignored by nationally-syndicated media personalities, whose facile analysis is so prevalent in American media since the advent of “embedded” journalism, came off as disingenuous, at best, and the basest sophistry, at worst.

If Colin Kaepernick were still playing quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers, today, there would likely be protests all along Calle Ocho and the County Mayor might even dare to make a public statement in support. Sports talk people would be righteously nodding their heads from their pop-up sets on Lummus Park and telling Kap he shouldn’t have expected anything less, barley understanding how they are promoting the leading voices for American establishment regime-change wars in Latin America, like Marco Rubio.

But, would any of the 25 shows broadcasting live from South Beach say a peep about Miami Gardens, a city with the 4th largest African American population in the U.S. and site of the actual game at Hard Rock stadium, losing out on much of the expected $500 million-dollar windfall to adjacent areas like Brickell, Miami Beach and Downtown Miami because of entrenched class and racial divisions?

Would they talk about Carlos Giménez’ own son working as a lobbyist to bring Formula 1 racing to the City of Miami Gardens against the expressed wishes of its own residents, while the Mayor, himself, threw legal hurdles against them from the County dais?

MIAMI, FL – Jan 31: Merchandise booth with attendant and customers at the InterContinental Hotel in Miami, Florida on January, 31, 2020 | PHOTO CREDIT: Raul Diego for deepcitychronicles ©2020 Deep City Chronicles. All Rights Reserved.

Would the case of a Cuban-American police captain, with an infamous record of bigotry and racism, standing at the podium in City Hall and calling himself a Black man to the face of an actual Black City Commissioner make any air time?

It’s highly unlikely, because Colin Kaepernick was not only biting off the hand that fed him when he took a knee during the national anthem and wore that t-shirt as a symbol, he was jeopardizing the entire propagandistic enterprise of the NFL.

Colonial Flag Football

When it comes to the use of symbols to craft a message, few can compete with the NFL. As the city gets ready for Super Bowl 54, league and team colors are displayed on every available surface of our urban core. Bayfront Park, in Downtown Miami, has erected a makeshift NFL theme park where visitors can walk on hash-marked Astroturf flanked by golden fiberglass footballs commemorating the league’s centennial anniversary. Each giant football sits on a base where a tiny speaker plays old and uninterrupted football game commentary.

Nostalgia is what the NFL really sells to its customers. Store racks of retired player jerseys, over-the-top film narrations of seasons past, the “Hall of Fame” and its interlocking relationship to the country’s storied universities, all contribute to make it the most popular sports league in the country with the most loyal fan base. The memories go deeper than mere replays of athletic prowess or draft day polemics; the National Football League rallies the national collective mind around a central tenet of foundational American mythology: Settlers vs Indians.

MIAMI, FL – Jan 31: Super Bowl LIV Halftime Show promotional billboard in Miami, Florida on January, 31, 2020 | PHOTO CREDIT: Raul Diego for deepcitychronicles ©2020 Deep City Chronicles. All Rights Reserved.

This year’s Super Bowl features one of the most obvious matchups. The San Francisco 49ers, named after a lionized subset of American settlers whose daring-do and ambition is considered to be a touchstone in the story of how the “West was won”, will face the Kansas City Chiefs. Taken from the old French, the word “Chief”, was and continues to be used as a slur of Native Americans. Other than the prominent spearhead used as their logo and a horse-riding Indian in a headdress to rile the home crowd, these “Chiefs” are as faceless to the football-watching American public as the ones massacred at Wounded Knee.

In Army training manuals “Indian Country” means enemy territory; a term, which harkens back to the days of Native genocide when European settlers used to organize into war parties to raid Indian villages, killing men, women and children indiscriminately. The U.S. military is the NFL’s biggest sponsor and hands NFL Commissioner, Roger Goodell, tens of millions of dollars every year to market the various branches of the world’s most powerful war machine.

Manifest Delirium

On the eve of the California Gold Rush, the 11th President of the United States, declared his intentions to expand the borders of the nascent country with the following words in his inaugural speech:

Our Union is a confederation of independent States, whose policy is peace with each other and all the world. To enlarge its limits is to extend the dominions of peace over additional territories and increasing millions. The world has nothing to fear from military ambition in our Government.

California, Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming would all become United States territory at the end of the Mexican-American war, marked by the signing of the Treaty of Guadalupe in the Spring of 1848, which included the cessation of Texas by the Mexican government. That Summer in 1848, a carpenter working on a site in Northern California noticed a shiny residue on a piece of wood.

What followed was the inexorable destruction of a fertile Western region, the wholesale killing of its Indigenous people and the birth of the modern-day extraction technologies, which are leading us to the brink of global environmental collapse. This is what is celebrated through the symbols of the National Football League. The game this Sunday is a symbolic ritual, itself.

After the Airforce, joined for the first time by the Marines and the Navy, do their flyovers, J-Lo and Shakira will be there for the halftime show, fooling you into celebrating it with them.

You Have Girlfriend Vietnam?

Colin Kaepernick has just betrayed everything he ostensibly stood (or knelt) for by signing on to be the face of Nike’s recurring “Just Do It” campaign. In doing so, he becomes an ambassador for child labor and worker exploitation throughout the world.

Nike, which manufactures its athletic-wear through third-party contractors in Asia has come under fire many times over the years, for lax oversight, and tacit encouragement of their business partners’ exploitative practices.

In  1997, scandalous working conditions were revealed in Nike’s third-party manufacturing plants in Vietnam, when their government brought legal action against the contractors and Nike after dozens of employees reported mistreatment, wage tampering and even sexual molestation.

Jill Ker Conway, a Nike director at the time, tried to assure board members stateside, that the company was addressing the allegations and doing everything in their power to correct the situation, but she was caught more than once obfuscating the facts and even lying on national television.

Working conditions in Nike’s other operations in the region, such as China and Indonesia, have never been scrutinized in the same manner as a result of stricter controls over information and corporate protection by those nations. Vietnam, itself, is not exactly a bastion of the free press, but its particular history with the United States and struggle to resolve the ongoing tragedy of UXO (unexploded ordinance), which has claimed more than 100,000 Vietnamese victims since the end of the war, gives them a reasonable axe to grind.

Minimum wage in Vietnam back in 1997 was approximately $42 a month, a figure Nike contractors were undercutting. Even at this pay-rate, a $150 pair Air Jordans – a normal retail price at the time – would cost Nike $1.50 to make. Such margins are unheard of for most businesses, but for transnational corporations like Nike, slave-wage labor is the reason they can afford to pay millions for world-scale marketing campaigns like “Just Do It”.

Intentional Grounding

Kaepernick is literally profiting from the worst of capitalism, while he dons the likeness of Malcom X and Fidel Castro on his shirt, and proclaims solidarity with the victims of police brutality in America.

Could it be a case of simple ignorance? Is Kaepernick just not aware of Nike’s history? In a sense, that really doesn’t matter. The fact that it IS Nike may make it more egregious. But, at its core, the problem is that he is leveraging a real and pervasive issue in the country, which he himself brought to the national consciousness, to make a buck.

Had he gone with Krispy Kreme doughnuts instead of Nike, it would hardly make a difference. The point is that everything he claimed to be about can now be called into question, and dismissed as nothing but an attention ploy and/or a lucrative business move.

He has made a mockery of Baltimore and Trayvon Martin, desecrated the image of true civil rights warriors like King, Robinson and Ali. What’s perhaps worse and more insidious is that he has given massive global corporations like Nike cover to pretend that buying their overpriced, slave-labor-manufactured products is some kind of action for social justice, as some people on Twitter are already implying:

Fantasy Football Dialectics

On the flip side, you have the faux patriots, predictably taking the opposite end of the absurd narrative and are defacing or destroying their Nike merchandise, reinforcing the entirely false premise propagated by the flag-waving, Monday-morning quarterbacks, that denounce NFL players who won’t stand for the national anthem from their laz-y-boys.

Trump, of course, seized the political moment and drove a deeper wedge into the American people, who are now more polarized than ever. Both sides of the divide now uphold completely self-defeating positions, and are allowing further encroachment by the ever-strengthening corporate-government alliance.

Not only are police departments around the country increasingly turning to militarized tactics and equipment, but the tech giants – who’ve now successfully corralled the vast majority internet users in their centralized platforms – are implementing  social-justice-flavored censorship strategies.

With this latest move, Nike is appealing to their uninformed, young customers whose brand awareness eclipses their historical awareness. They’re lining up and picking teams in a completely contrived, bogus game to the great detriment of society.

Colin Kaepernick is like a quarterback who throws an interception and starts blocking his own teammates to make sure the opposing team runs it back for a touchdown. Frankly, I wouldn’t want a guy like that on my team, either.

Miami Soccer Stadium
I don’t want any interruptions from anyone in the public… We’ve done this day in and day out for a very long time in the City of Miami… We do not need assistance with running this meeting.Keon Hardemon (District 5) - Commissioner & Chairman
Miami Soccer Stadium
MIAMI, FL – July 18: Joe Carollo, Commissioner for District 3, banters with City Commission Chairman, Keon Hardemon, just before the special hearing on the Beckham-Malreese Stadium proposal begins at City Hall in Miami, Florida on July 18, 2018 | PHOTO CREDIT: Raul Diego for deepcitychronicles ©2018 Deep City Chronicles. All Rights Reserved.
Miami Soccer Stadium
MIAMI, FL – July 18: Swing vote-holder, Commissioner Ken Russell, answers some of the press’ questions prior to the special hearing on the Beckham-Malreese Stadium proposal at City Hall in Miami, Florida on July 18, 2018 | PHOTO CREDIT: Raul Diego for deepcitychronicles ©2018 Deep City Chronicles. All Rights Reserved.

 

We are circumventing our own statutes, our own laws… Let the real owners of the land decide… We are going against our own charter. That’s why people don’t trust us.Manolo Reyes (District 4) - Commissioner
Miami Soccer Stadium
MIAMI, FL – July 18: The Mas-Beckham team huddle together during the special hearing on the Beckham-Malreese Stadium proposal at City Hall in Miami, Florida on July 18, 2018 | PHOTO CREDIT: Raul Diego for deepcitychronicles ©2018 Deep City Chronicles. All Rights Reserved.
Miami Soccer Stadium
MIAMI, FL – July 18: District 4 Commissioner, Manolo Reyes, states his opposition to the process underlying the Beckham-Malreese Stadium proposal at City Hall in Miami, Florida on July 18, 2018 | PHOTO CREDIT: Raul Diego for deepcitychronicles ©2018 Deep City Chronicles. All Rights Reserved.

 

For the purposes of the questions that were posed, the way the commission is proceeding at this time is perfectly legal. I wanted to remind the commission that in 2014 there was a resolution passed that we wanted MLS soccer, David Beckham to be the group that led this charge… It’s legal.Victoria Mendez - City Attorney
Miami Soccer Stadium
MIAMI, FL – July 18: Mayor of Miami, Francis X. Suarez, follows the proceedings during the special hearing for the Beckham-Malreese Stadium proposal at City Hall in Miami, Florida on July 18, 2018 | PHOTO CREDIT: Raul Diego for deepcitychronicles ©2018 Deep City Chronicles. All Rights Reserved.
Miami Soccer Stadium
MIAMI, FL – July 18: Richard Perez, Holland & Knight partner, representing the Beckham interests stands smiling at the podium during the Beckham-Malreese Stadium proposal at City Hall in Miami, Florida on July 18, 2018 | PHOTO CREDIT: Raul Diego for deepcitychronicles ©2018 Deep City Chronicles. All Rights Reserved.

 

This impromptu proposed ballot language is deceiving and is calculated to elicit a particular response. But, I also think it’s out of order… I have not seen this. We were not contacted about this. We were not asked questions by Commissioner Reyes’ office.Francis X. Suarez - Mayor
Miami Soccer Stadium
MIAMI, FL – July 18: A First-T supporter looks on skeptically during the special hearing for the Beckham-Malreese Stadium proposal, while a stadium supporter sits anxiously behind him at City Hall in Miami, Florida on July 18, 2018 | PHOTO CREDIT: Raul Diego for deepcitychronicles ©2018 Deep City Chronicles. All Rights Reserved.
Miami Soccer Stadium
MIAMI, FL – July 18: Francis X. Suarez, Mayor of Miami, disputes a proposed language change resolution before the City Commission at the special hearing for the Beckham-Malreese Stadium proposal at City Hall in Miami, Florida on July 18, 2018 | PHOTO CREDIT: Raul Diego for deepcitychronicles ©2018 Deep City Chronicles. All Rights Reserved.

 

We are extremely confident that the remediation costs on this particular site, including the park and including the lease premises will be substantially less than $35 million. Richard Perez - Holland & Knight partner
Miami Soccer Stadium
MIAMI, FL – July 18: Miami Mayor, Francis X. Suarez and City Manager, Emilio T. Gonzalez, confer privately just prior to the start of the special hearing for the Beckham-Malreese Stadium proposal at City Hall in Miami, Florida on July 18, 2018 | PHOTO CREDIT: Raul Diego for deepcitychronicles ©2018 Deep City Chronicles. All Rights Reserved.
Miami Soccer Stadium
MIAMI, FL – July 18: Stadium proposal partner, Jorge Mas Jr., stares forward defiantly during the special hearing at City Hall in Miami, Florida on July 18, 2018 | PHOTO CREDIT: Raul Diego for deepcitychronicles ©2018 Deep City Chronicles. All Rights Reserved.

 

We would adopt reaching a living wage on a scalable basis, starting at $11 dollars over four years to get to the $15 dollars.Jorge Mas
Miami Soccer Stadium
MIAMI, FL – July 18: A member of the Mas-Beckham entourage follows the proceedings attentively during the special hearing on the Beckham-Malreese Stadium proposal at City Hall in Miami, Florida on July 18, 2018 | PHOTO CREDIT: Raul Diego for deepcitychronicles ©2018 Deep City Chronicles. All Rights Reserved.
Miami Soccer Stadium
MIAMI, FL – July 18: The Mas-Beckham team consult with each other during the special hearing on the Beckham-Malreese Stadium proposal at City Hall in Miami, Florida on July 18, 2018 | PHOTO CREDIT: Raul Diego for deepcitychronicles ©2018 Deep City Chronicles. All Rights Reserved.

 

I know that you say that it is legal. But, is it ethical?Manolo Reyes (District 4) - Commissioner
Miami Soccer Stadium
MIAMI, FL – July 18: Jorge Mas Jr., Beckham’s partner in the stadium venture, assumes a pleading posture during the special hearing for the Beckham-Malreese Stadium proposal at City Hall in Miami, Florida on July 18, 2018 | PHOTO CREDIT: Raul Diego for deepcitychronicles ©2018 Deep City Chronicles. All Rights Reserved.
Miami Soccer Stadium
MIAMI, FL – July 18: A stadium deal supporter sits through the special hearing for the Beckham-Malreese Stadium proposal at City Hall in Miami, Florida on July 18, 2018 | PHOTO CREDIT: Raul Diego for deepcitychronicles ©2018 Deep City Chronicles. All Rights Reserved.

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