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Playing While White


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For years, Leonard has demonstrated an understanding of the modern sporting landscape and a touch for applying academic insight to this most secular world. His voice and mind lend both gravity and dexterity on these topics. -- Bomani Jones, ESPN David Leonard is one of our most brutally honest truth tellers. He uses sports as a lens to understand how sports can both challenge and perpetuate institutionalized racism. It's a book for the conscious sports fan and people unafraid to discuss these issues ..with candor and clarity. I can't recommend it enough. -- Dave Zirin, sports editor, The Nation Leonard's in-depth investigation at how whiteness operates in sport (and, in turn, our society at large) is smart, cutting, nuanced, and, above all, important. It is a necessary work for this time. -- Jessica Luther, author of Unsportsmanlike Conduct: College Football and the Politics of Rape Systemic racism is often explored within the contexts of many of our institutions: government, education, criminal justice. Playing While White thoughtfully engages in a discourse around the privilege that whiteness affords, highlighting the ways that white athletes and whiteness are profiled as innocent, desirable, smart, and exceptional. This is in sharp juxtaposition to the way that Black bodies continue to be policed and profiled, demonized and denigrated both on and off of the field. This poses the following query: do Black lives matter in the world of sports? Leonard's brilliant and thorough analysis of the institutionalized racism that is perpetrated in sport is one that we must all delve deeper into, and grapple with, as a society. -- Michael Eric Dyson, author of Tears We Cannot Stop: A Sermon to White America Few have talked about race and sports with the passion and critical acuity of David J. Leonard. With Playing While White, he takes the road less paved and turns his attention to Whiteness, exploding the myths of privilege and entitlement that we are all too willing to assign to Black Athletes. -- Mark Anthony Neal, author of author Looking for Leroy: Illegible Black Masculinities Issues of white privilege, and broader considerations of 'whiteness' as social construction, are critical to contemporary US social and political discourse. In Playing While White, Leonard expertly explicates the extent to which sport plays an important role in constructing and privileging white identity politics in American society. -- Joshua Newman, author of Embodying Dixie: Studies in the Body Pedagogics of Southern Whiteness Examines the effects of the dominant racial ideology on American sports and highlights the ways that whiteness is privileged above other racial identities. Playing While White will appeal to sports fans interested in ways to explain the racial disparities in American sports. -- Lori Martin, author of Big Box Schools: Race, Education, and the Danger of the Wal-Martization of Public Schools in America

Table of Contents

1. The Scrappy White Leader
2. He Got Brains: Whiteness and Intelligence on and off the Court
3. Talking Trash (While White): A Betrayal of Tradition or a Sign of Competitive Leadership?
4. White Thugs?: Crime and the Culture of Innocence
5. Getting High: The New Jim Crow and White Athletes
6. Redemption and Character Building: Making Mistakes While White 133
7. (White) Women and Sports: Selling White Femininity
8. Driving While White: NASCAR and the Politics of Race
9. Playing the White Way: From the Cardinals to the Badgers
10. Sporting Cultures and White Victims

About the Author

David J. Leonard is a professor at Washington State University. He is the author of After Artest: The NBA and the Assault on Blackness and coeditor of Commodified and Criminalized: New Racism and African Americans in Contemporary Sports. Follow him on Twitter at @drdavidjleonard.


Incisive and troubling.

-- Marilyn Dahl * Shelf Awareness for Readers *
Playing While White is a critical text for anyone interested in sports and whiteness studies and definitively puts to rest the claim that race is irrelevant in the commentaries surrounding athletes and their participation in sports.* Black Perspectives (AAIHS) *

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