The Play of Race Within Sports Films
Sports films utilize already-existing Black stereotypes, inflecting them with values particular to the sport represented and the historical context of the film. This view of sports films analyzes them as a site in which different ideological problems collide and are worked out. A crucial factor in the representation of race in athletic films is the notion of the separation of the playing field, whether it is a basketball court, baseball diamond or football field, from culture. Films use the structures; the diamond, the gridiron, and the court as metaphoric enactments of truth, justice and the American way. Contemporary films like Hoosiers or The Natural use the strategy of historical realism to avoid issues of race. The film opens with a framing sequence of an elderly Paige sitting on the field of the Cleveland Stadium, where he played with Bill Veeck's Indians in the late 1940s.