Latinos and Sports in the Southwest
The opening talk of the Latinos and Sports in the Southwest lecture series examines individual and team stories that shed light upon the significant role of sports in the day-to-day existence of (mostly) Mexican American communities throughout these regions. The topic of sports is a well-developed element for the study of stereotyping of other racial and ethnic groups, but has only recently begun to generate academic interest as a vital component of Latino life.
Dr. Jorge Iber is associate dean, Student Division, and professor of history at Texas Tech University. Besides overseeing advising and other student activities for the College of Arts and Sciences, he is an active teacher, researcher, and writer in the area of sports history, focusing on the social significance of the history of Latinas/os in American sports. Aside from teaching courses in sports and recreation, Texas, and U.S. history, he is the author and editor of numerous books and articles on sports, including the forthcoming More than Just Peloteros: Sports and U.S. Latino Communities (Texas Tech University Press, January 2015) and Latinos in U.S. Sport: A History of Isolation, Cultural Identity and Acceptance (Human Kinetics, 2011). He also the editor of the Sports in the American West Series at Texas Tech University Press. As a long-suffering Pittsburgh Pirates fan, he has been thrilled at the team’s recent success.
“Constructing a Mexican American Powerhouse While Remaining Colorblind” is the second presentation in the three part series Latinos in Sports in the Southwest. This presentation describes and analyzes how William Carson “Nemo” Herrera built a strong basketball program at Sidney Lanier High School, winning two state championships and numerous regional ones with boys from the barrios of the West Side of San Antonio during the World War II years. While Herrera understood the difficulties under which his players labored both on and off the basketball courts, he remained steadfast in teaching his players a colorblind approach to sports. Through his efforts, his boys came of age as Mexian Americans with an ethnic and racial pride that spread out into the community and make them heroes to this day.
Ignacio M. Garcia is the Lemuel Hardison Redd, Jr. Professor of Western & Latino History at Brigham Young University. He is the author of six books on Chicano politics, civil rights, and sports, two of which have been honored for their contribution to Texas history. He has written on Chicano political parties, the John F. Kennedy presidential campaign as it related to Latinos, a biography on Hector P. García, an American civil rights icon, and will soon be publishing a book on the first civil rights case to be decided by the Earl Warren Court. He is currently working on a co-edited volume of essays by major Latino scholars and intellectual, and also on a history of the U.S. Civil Rights Commission’s work in the West.
The final presentation of our Fall 2014 series, “Latinos and Sports in the Southwest,” was a viewing and discussion of The Perfect Game. William Winokur in his presentation, "The Perfect Game and Transcending Fairy Tales," talked about his novel and the movie, which is based on a true story that began in Monterrey, Mexico, where a young group of boys in the slums try to escape the dismal conditions that surround them—hunger, dirt floors, and cinder block houses. A chance encounter with the Mexico City All-Star traveling team inspires them to form an organized Little League team. Their dream: to dress up in actual uniforms and play just one “real game.” Mr. Winokur signed copies of his book, copies of which are available for sale to benefit the Center for the Study of the Southwest.