Friday, May 7, 2010

A brief note on "Los Suns"

On Cinco de Mayo Phoenix wore "Los Suns" shirts to protest Arizona's Senate Bill 1070 - a jaw-dropping bit of racist, xenophobic legislation. The Suns' decision has sparked much discussion about the place of politics in sports. 

The idea that politics can be kept out of sport is giant fiction. If you are allowed to ignore the politics of your team's owners, it is only because this makes it easier for them to line their pockets.

For those wondering where the Suns got their "Los Suns" shirts, I thought I'd share the following: The "Los Suns" shirt comes out of "Noche Latina" - an annual NBA promotional gesture towards Latino fans, in which teams housed in cities with a large Latino market wear jerseys sporting their names as spoken in Spanish by fans (e.g. "El Heat", "Los Spurs" and, my favorite - though not my favorite team - "Los Lakers.")

A marketing gesture intended to acknowledge (and "monetize") Latino fans of NBA teams returns to the court as a provocative statement about what it means for NBA teams to support their fans.

If you want more on this topic, listen to this conversation between Dave Zirin and Greg Esposito. Zirin lists other instances in which sports is politicized openly - the owners of baseball's Arizona Diamondbacks have used their teams as platforms to raise money for Arizona Republicans, and to organize against abortion rights. It's a good long discussion and heats up pretty quickly. Well I guess we can be glad that soccer isn't baseball.  Except, of course, it is.


  1. I was listening to the radio program you've linked here yesterday. I was surprised that a caller said she cancelled her season tickets over this. It's really sad how it is showing the true colors of many people. As a Phoenix area resident and as a sports fan, I'm proud that the Suns organization is standing up in this way against SB 1070. And the callers who said there is no place for politics in sports are either naive or lying to themselves. Thank you for posting about this, I love reading your blog.

  2. Thanks for posting this, what a great story. I agree that the idea of the team as separate from politics is ridiculous... sport and sports teams are, or should be, public institutions and are most definitely political!

    I am a long-time reader of your blog, and a huge fans of your writing. I wanted to write to you because my friend and I are kicking off our futbol-related podcast very soon (more about the political, cultural and historical side of the game than the up-to-date reporting of it) and we really want to do an interview with you! Please let me know how if you're interested and how I can contact you, my email is pranjaltiwari at gmail dot com if you want to drop me a line... thanks and keep up the great work!

  3. Kudos to the Suns' management for having the guts to do this. They seem like a much classier operation than their baseball counterparts.

    I've never understood it when people insist that sporting events are no place for the expression of political opinions. If that is really the case, then why is any country's national anthem played just before gametime?


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