Why Didn’t *He* Scream?

by Liz Anderson on June 13, 2023

If you follow college football, you probably heard that Glenn “Shemy” Schembechler was recently forced to resign from his post as assistant director of football recruiting at University of Michigan shortly after he was hired.  This occurred after news emerged that he had liked  numerous racist tweets.  Glenn is the son of “legendary” Bo Schembechler, who won 13 Big Ten championships as coach of UM football from 1969–1989.  Apparently it wasn’t enough to prevent Glenn’s hiring that he denied that his brother Matt had told their father that UM team doctor Robert Anderson had sexually assaulted him during a physical exam.  Glenn insisted that “Bo would have done something. … Bo would have fired him.”  Yet law firm WilmerHale had already issued a report confirming that Bo had failed to take action against Anderson after receiving multiple complaints from victims about Anderson’s abuse.  Matt has testified that his father even protected Anderson’s job after Athletic Director Don Canham was ready to fire him.

Women are often asked why they didn’t scream when they were being raped, or why they didn’t immediately report the rape to the police, as if these inactions are evidence that the rape never happened.  This post is about why Bo didn’t scream after his own son complained of sexual victimization by his team’s doctor.  The answer offers insight into the political psychology of patriarchy, which is deeply wrapped up in the kind of denial of reality that Glenn expressed, and that Bo enforced.  It also illuminates why women don’t scream when they are assaulted.

Glenn’s reasoning in defense of his father expresses the self-understanding of those committed to a certain form of patriarchal ideology.  In the U.S., college football is the premier sport in which coaches are represented as experts in training up young men to be real men, exemplars of a certain version of estimable masculinity.  In this version, plays for domination must take place on the field within the rules of the game, and real manhood comes with responsibilities.  The syllogism implicit in Glenn’s reasoning is clear:  Real men protect those for whom they are responsible.  Bo was a real man.   So, if Bo knew that his son or his athletes–those for whom he is responsible–were being harmed, he would have protected them by firing Dr. Anderson.

The heartbreaking and deeply disturbing testimony of Matt Schembechler, along with two of Bo’s former football players, Daniel Kwiatkowski, and Gilvanni Johnson, tells a very different story about how Bo understood the demands of real manhood.  When 10-year-old Matt told his father that Anderson had sexually assaulted him, Bo got angry with him and punched him in the chest.  When Kwiatkowski complained that Anderson had digitally raped him, Bo told him to “toughen up.”  When Johnson complained of the same abuse, Bo put him “in the doghouse,” suddenly started demeaning his athletic performance, and barred him from playing basketball although he was recruited for both sports.

“Bo knew, everybody knew,” said Kwiatkowski.  Players joked about seeing “Dr. Anal” to Johnson.  Coaches would threaten to send players to be examined by Anderson if they didn’t work harder.  Victims stayed silent out of fear of losing their scholarships or chances to play football.

Bo didn’t appear to be angry at Anderson.  He was angry at his son and his players for complaining.  He was teaching them a different set of rules for real manhood from the official patriarchal ideology:  1. Real men don’t get raped.  More generally, they don’t get humiliated by others.  2. If they do get humiliated, they had better not whine about it.  3.  Instead, they should “toughen up,” which is to say, bear up under the abuse, put up with it, act like it didn’t happen.  In other words, submit silently.

These are bullies’ rules–the rules for real manhood that protect bullies at the expense of the subordinates they are ostensibly supposed to protect.  They are reflected in the stiff upper lip of England’s elite boarding schools, notorious for enabling bullies to terrorize other students.  In the code of Southern honor satirized by Mark Twain in Pudd’nhead Wilson, where it was unmanly to settle disputes in court rather than duking it out.  In the 2016 GOP Presidential primary debates, which were all about who could prove they were the bigger bully.  In Mike Pence’s refusal until recently to blame Trump for Jan. 6, even though Trump had repeatedly humiliated him and set a mob out to lynch him for refusing to overturn the election.

Yet this explanation doesn’t quite answer the question of why Bo didn’t just fire Anderson from his position as team doctor, or let Athletic Director Don Canham do so, when Matt’s mother complained to Canham, taking up the duty to protect that Bo abandoned.  Why did Bo put up with his son and his team being abused?  To understand this, we need to dive deeper into the relationship between humiliation and shame.

People feel humiliated when someone else forces them into an undignified position or treats them as someone who doesn’t count, as contemptible or even beneath contempt.  Humiliation is a response to how others treat oneself.  People feel shame when they fail to measure up to social standards of esteem that they have internalized.  One might feel ashamed for “allowing” another person to humiliate oneself, even if one had no way to avoid it.  In that case, humiliation precedes shame.  But there are many other causes of shame not predicated on humiliation.

Everyone agrees that a characteristic response to shame is to want to hide from the gaze of others.  There are at least two characteristic responses to humiliation. (1) Getting even: restoring oneself to a position of (at least) equality with respect to the bullying party, often by means of violence.  It took social change for lawsuits to provide a respectable nonviolent alternative.  (2) Submission: like the dog who loses a fight and slinks away, tail between its legs.

According to the bullies’ patriarchal rules of real manhood, one’s manhood can be demeaned and one can thereby be humiliated by the humiliation of associates under one’s authority.  This is explicit in honor cultures, where the honor of men is embodied in the sexual purity of their female relatives.  A man can humiliate another man by raping or seducing his wife, daughter, sister, or niece.  Female relatives humiliate the men responsible for them by choosing to have sex outside of an approved marriage.  Others mock men for failing to protect and control their female relatives.  Manly honor is thus deeply wrapped up in totalitarian control over their female relatives’ sexuality.

The same general logic applies in the U.S., but by somewhat different rules about who is responsible for whom and how they may respond.  I think Bo felt humiliated by the fact that his son was raped.  But he was a prisoner of the same bullies’ rules he enforced on his son and his team.  So, instead of getting angry at Anderson, he got angry at his son.  Instead of getting even with Anderson, he submitted, as called for by bullies’ rules.  For, under the bullies’ rules of patriarchy, there is no real recovery or restoration of real manhood after such extreme humiliation (at least short of murdering Anderson in revenge).  Once humiliated in such an extreme way, Bo felt he had no other option than to pretend that it never happened.  And to avoid shame being heaped upon humiliation, he had to hope that no one discovered otherwise via the complaints of those whose victimization humiliated him.  So he had to enforce the bullies’ rules of silence on them as well.

Johnson testified to the unrecoverability of a confident sense of manhood due to Anderson’s multiple sexual assaults throughout his football career.  He said that he tried to prove to himself that he was a man by being excessively promiscuous.  But penetrating countless women could never make up for his having been penetrated against his will, and thereby forced into a position of feminine submission.  He destroyed two marriages in his futile attempts to restore his sense of manhood, and was unable to establish stable intimate relationships.

Rape culture is the popular enforcement of bullies’ rules against those traumatized by the sexual humiliation of bullies.  Bo didn’t scream over his son’s rape, because he didn’t want shame heaped upon his humiliation.  And that is often why women don’t scream either.  Although Bo’s “toughen up” reprimand implies that he thought silent submission was a specifically manly way to respond to rape, in reality bullies’ rules prescribe the same conduct for women–silent submission.

I draw two lessons from this analysis.  First, many men are victims of rape culture too.  More generally, they are victims of bullies’ rules of patriarchy.  Bullies’ rules are the actual rules by which patriarchy operates, in contrast with the legitimizing patriarchal ideology that Glenn believed in.  Second, and more generally, Bo’s response to the numerous rapes of his son and his athletes strongly supports Robin Dembroff’s analysis of patriarchy.  According to Dembroff, patriarchy does not place all men above all women.  It places “real men” above everyone else, at everyone else’s expense.

Trumpism is another manifestation of the popular enforcement of bullies’ rules against all varieties of humiliation inflicted by Trump against his enemies and associates.  If you want to know why so few GOP officeholders, party officials, and Trump aides and associates scream even when Trump humiliates them or the people they love, just remember why Bo didn’t scream when his son was raped.  Bullies can’t enforce their own rules all by themselves.  They need support from others.





Sumana Harihareswara 06.13.23 at 6:44 pm

This was fascinating and illuminating. Thank you.


bekabot 06.13.23 at 9:13 pm

I think it ought to be added that under social rules of the type you’re describing here, real relationships — that is, officially recognized relationships in which the participants are understood to have a duty towards each other — exist between adult males, not between males and females and not between adult males and nonadults of either sex. This is especially true in the contexts of work and war, contexts from which women and children are formally banned. (That women and children aren’t actually absent from either work or war doesn’t matter — I’m talking about representation and reputation and not about reality.) In that context, Bo Schembechler and Robert Anderson, who worked together, had a real relationship, which far outweighed whatever more tenuous ties might exist between Bo Schembechler and his sons or between Bo Schembechler and their mother. Bo Schembechler and Robert Anderson were peers, which couldn’t be said of Schembechler’s sons or of Schembechler’s wife. That Bo Schembechler was one-up on Robert Anderson in terms of the work hierarchy only intensified Schembechler’s duty of protection — not towards his wife or his sons, but towards Robert Anderson. Anderson was a person from whom he could receive real, substantial favors, and could give them in return. Anderson inhabited the same world Schembechler did. (The same thing, again, couldn’t be said of his wife or his sons.) It’s not impossible that he saw more of Robert Anderson and spoke more with Robert Anderson than with his wife or his kids and it’s also very possible that he understood Anderson better than he understood them. If Schembechler had allowed his sons to blow the whistle on Anderson, that would have constituted a real betrayal; and the betrayal (what’s worse) of a man who had helped him win championship after championship and who had supported him for years. It would have amounted to the selling-out, by Schembechler, of a man who had done work of real value (in his eyes) and had done it at his behest. At most, it could have been construed (quietly and on the down-low, of course) as apostasy against everything the Bruderschaft is supposed to stand for. When I think of it in those terms, I’m not surprised that Schembechler didn’t have the stomach for it.


PatinIowa 06.13.23 at 9:29 pm

Michigan grad from the Bo era, Michigan sports fan:

The University ought to remove Schembechler’s name and likeness from its buildings. Not as punishment; he doesn’t care, he’s dead. But as a reminder that educational institutions have a duty to protect their vulnerable members, and that you can be a large, fast human being with athletic skills and still be vulnerable.

Also, I agree with the first comment: fascinating and thought provoking.


Doctor Science 06.14.23 at 3:21 am

That is so horrific it reads like fiction. If I were writing it as fiction, it would not be coincidence that Matt, who was was not Bo’s biological son, was offered as the sacrifice, while Glenn was (possibly) protected.

But if I were writing it as fiction, the cause for which Bo was sacrificing his son & the other boys would be something worth a moral dilemma, not football. My sense of humor isn’t as dark as that.


Aubergine 06.14.23 at 5:30 am

This is a great piece, and your observations can be generalised far beyond the context of “Real Man” United States masculinity.

It seems to be a universal human tendency to organise social structures around particular males, or groups or classes of males, and then ensure the coherence of the organisation through a collective refusal to accept criticism of its male core. The critic marks themself as an outsider; suppressing them provides an opportunity for others to prove their loyalty.

Monarchies, religions, cults, sports teams, political movements, armies, police forces, corporations – some allow mild grumbling, or criticism aimed at members of a core male group who fail to live up to the organisation’s standards for Real Male behaviour (the actual standards, such as “don’t allow yourself to be humiliated”, which as you say usually differ from the official standards), but they all tend towards the same principle. Oppositional activist groups tend to sacralise a negative revaluation of the dominant culture’s standards for Real Male patriarchal behaviour then produce a mirror patriarchy, made up of their own revalued Real Males, which will simply replace the existing patriarchy if it ever gets the opportunity to do so.

The female roles in these structures tends to be facilitator, enforcer, scapegoat. Females can sometimes enter the core of these structures, usually as a temporary replacement for a male, but rarely enjoy the same immunity from criticism.

Once you start seeing this pattern, it’s very hard to stop.


trane 06.14.23 at 8:28 am

I second Sumana, above. Thank you for this.



LFC 06.14.23 at 2:45 pm

The argument of the OP puts a lot of weight on the assertion that B. Schembechler’s felt humiliation was “extreme.” “Once humiliated in such an extreme way, Bo felt he had no other option than to pretend that it had never happened.”

One implication is that in a situation where the humiliation is less extreme, the outcome might be different. For instance, a male CEO is faced with the discovery that one of the corporate officers, with whom he has worked closely, has embezzled a lot of money. The CEO is humiliated by his subordinate’s criminal behavior, but less humiliated than would be the case if the subordinate had assaulted or raped one of the CEO’s children. The humiliation being less, the shame is also less, and the CEO is thus able to fire the subordinate.

P.s. There would perhaps seem to be some parallels, although not exact ones, between the situation discussed in the OP and the Penn State case of several years ago.


steven t johnson 06.14.23 at 3:25 pm

Following the link about liking racist tweets, the big surprise was the news that apparently Dr. Thomas Sowell has been decreed racist. But Dr. Sowell has been an esteemed member of the Hoover Institution for years. It seems likely that pretty much everyone here values his work more highly than real academic hooligans like Nancy MacLean, such as his book Marxism. I didn’t know that January 6 has been definitively proven to have nothing to do with anti-socialism or even QAnon weird sexual conspiracy moral panic, either. If this is the case, the number of Black supporters in the Trump rally is remarkable and remarkably concerning, yet somehow not an issue.

The assumption is that denial is only deceit of others, never oneself?

I haven’t followed the case at all. How much money has this cost UM? Since none of it came out of Schemblecher’s pocket, though, I suppose that means there is no economic costs for the father?

The references to Dembroff suggest that only “real men” count as patriarchs and this is purely a matter of personal commitment to the bullies’ code. Is the possibility that counting as a patriarch have something to do with legally codified privileges, legal ownership of property and control of income and/or position in a formal hierarchy commanding real resources, which is to say, both positive and negative sanctions, entirely excluded?


Abdul Ansari 06.14.23 at 3:32 pm

Thanks Liz. This is a wonderfully insightful account of the interplay of shame and humiliation–and how the two play together to perpetuate bad social arrangements and norms. (In some of my own work on shame, I have been exploring the sense in which it imprisons the ashamed to shared values.)

That said, I have a clarification question: were Bo and others like him moved by shame avoidance, by the fear of responding to humiliation with shame, or was he responding with shame, specifically with shame’s characteristic submission-to-the-shared-rules reaction?

I ask because how we go on this seems to me to have different normative implications on the rationality and value of shame as a response to humiliation.


J, not that one 06.14.23 at 6:30 pm

This is a very good post, and I appreciate several of the comments above.

There are definitely many men who understand their social existence as being subordinate to other men. But I’m hesitant to assume that all such men are the product of bullying and pseudo-rape, any more than all women who content themselves with a subordinate social position were all bullied to that extent . . . especially by their peers (being trained by their parents not to stand up for themselves is presumably, psychologically, very different).

It’s also interesting that many men who perceive themselves as somehow feminist – I’m thinking at least of men my age (older gen-x) and my teachers’ generation – feel it’s important to harass women they perceive (not always correctly) as being insufficiently independent.

This is kind of orthogonal to the OP, but I think (based on personal experience) there’s an important distinction to be drawn between people who feel humiliated when they’re forced against their will into a subordinate position (because they understand independence to be important for them), and people who find such humiliation to be an incorrect or at least incomplete reaction (which requires further education to overcome).


Liz Anderson 06.14.23 at 7:15 pm

Abdul, I think we need to distinguish feeling ashamed from being publicly shamed–that is, in Bo’s case, being exposed to others as falling short of patriarchal standards of real manhood. Bo was avoiding the latter. I believe he also felt ashamed. But his submission to bullies’ rules was due to his humiliation as well as his desire to avoid being publicly shamed. You question whether it is rational to feel shame in response to humiliation. Like Adam Smith and many others, I distinguish the natural objects of an emotion from its proper or merited objects. Shame is a natural response to humiliation, deeply rooted, it seems to me, in humans’ emotional constitution. But so are outrage and indignation, which are also merited responses. Which is the more likely response for victims typically depends on whether they live in a culture (or subculture) that demands justice for victims, or rather one in which bystanders side with the bullies.


LFC 06.14.23 at 7:20 pm

Having read many of steven t johnson’s previous comments, I find it very strange that he’s praising T. Sowell’s book on Marxism, not having read the book but just based on what I know about Sowell.


AWOL 06.14.23 at 9:24 pm

The NHL just had to face up to their toxic culture a few years ago. Essentially, the entire Chicago team and organization were enablers for a rapist.

I saw Beach interviewed on TV when he outed himself as a rape victim. He was obviously eaten-up by alcohol, hanging onto a tenuous relationship with a sympathetic woman, just managing to survive playing pro hockey in small-market Germany.

They settled out of court.



Aubergine 06.15.23 at 1:07 am

I think Bo felt humiliated by the fact that his son was raped. But he was a prisoner of the same bullies’ rules he enforced on his son and his team. So, instead of getting angry at Anderson, he got angry at his son. Instead of getting even with Anderson, he submitted, as called for by bullies’ rules. For, under the bullies’ rules of patriarchy, there is no real recovery or restoration of real manhood after such extreme humiliation (at least short of murdering Anderson in revenge).

I suspect that Bo’s response, while ultimately based on the sense of humiliation you describe, was also somewhat more complicated.

Anderson’s activities were no secret. Everyone knew what was going on; everyone knew that any boy on the team could be a victim, and that probably they all were to some extent. In fact, the abuse seems to have been used as a kind of hazing ritual.

The purpose of these rituals in male social groups is not (just) to toughen men up. They bind the group together by making every member complicit in the shared humiliation of the ritual, and a member cannot denounce the group or the ritual without revealing their own shame and their own complicity. A Real Man is a man who keeps to the code of silence. He has honour.

So I think that Bo’s message was partly “don’t get raped” – that is the underlying source of the shame – but mostly snitches get stitches.


Aubergine 06.15.23 at 3:50 am

I might add to my last comment that, much as the shared shame of abuse would likely have performed a group binding function for the victims, the shared risk of shaming for complicity in perpetrating and concealing the abuse would have served a similar purpose in networks of the kind of patronage bekabot discusses @2 above.


Trader Joe 06.15.23 at 12:52 pm

An excellent piece and a very thoughtful approach to the “Why” question that is so often overlooked in favor of the salacious details of what happened.

I’d only observe that Coach Schembechler (born 1929) was a “Greatest Generation” member and his ideas of what it means to be a man, how one protects women and children were formed by the mind-sets of that era.

That’s not to excuse the behavior, but I think the context matters since we know in hindsight that men of that era showed a fairly vast ignorance of what we would now view as the right answer to these dilemmas. A cover up was at the time an expedient action since men of power collectively were motived to close ranks and keep such things under wraps. That motivation towards silence is less prevalent today (though still exists) which is why we’re comparatively more shocked that keeping quiet was even attempted.

Sadly most of what motivates the demonstrated behavior still exists and the same moral errors are being made despite far better knowledge of both what is right and what the consequences of cover-up look like.


Poirot 06.15.23 at 5:39 pm

I echo Sumana@1 and others. Excellent post. Very insightful. Thank you. I hope to read more of Liz Anderson’s work here.


Z 06.15.23 at 8:38 pm

This is excellent Prof. Anderson. Besides Robin Dembroff, can you recommend some literature that informed your views about patriarchy, real men, bullies rules and shame/humiliation? I am a student that has access to academic literature.


John Q 06.16.23 at 2:55 am

Like LFC, I’m mystified by the latest comment from steven t johnson, and particularly by this comment
“if this is the case, the number of Black supporters in the Trump rally is remarkable and remarkably concerning, yet somehow not an issue.”
A quick search of images for “trump rally picture” suggests that this number is approximately zero, which may be why it is not an issue. Biden got an estimated 90 per cent of black voters, a little worse than Clinton and a little better than Kerry. Unsurprisingly, Obama did much better than any of these.


rivelle 06.16.23 at 3:35 am

Aubergine @14 wrote,

“The purpose of these rituals in male social groups is not (just) to toughen men up. They bind the group together by making every member complicit in the shared humiliation of the ritual, and a member cannot denounce the group or the ritual without revealing their own shame and their own complicity. A Real Man is a man who keeps to the code of silence. He has honour.”

The purpose of these group loyalty rituals is not only to buy silence but also to serve as a possible means of later coercion and source of blackmail.

The Armed Forces employ psychological methods of breaking an individual recruit’s personality and then reassembling the personality into loyalty and dependence upon the group. This lends itself naturally into “codes of silence”. But as illustrated by the recent case of Australian soldier Ben Roberts-Smith these may not necessarily be bullet-proof in the face of especially egregious acts of moral violation and war criminal activity. Roberts-Smith’s invocations of “the code” in his attempt to intimidate witnesses in his court case failed miserably.



Lord Ashcroft played his group hazing card over David Cameron. Speculation remains concerning just which favours Cameron delivered to keep his humiliation from becoming worse, the threat of actual photos being released, but in this same period the Brexit faction of the Tories finally got their way against Cameron, held and won a Brexit Referendum leading to Cameron’s resignation.

““Follow the money” is one of the most important exhortations to bear in mind for those investigating political power and influence, but not all control is financial. The control exerted by elite networks is based on long-standing trust and loyalty, but also, in some cases at least, by a black and rotten heart of what is, in effect, lifelong blackmail. Britain’s establishment, at least in part, can be visualized (for those of strong stomach) as a group of powerful men standing close together, each with the balls of the man next to him held in a powerful grip. Lord Michael Ashcroft just squeezed, very publicly indeed; yet his revelations, though tremendously damaging, may be tame indeed compared to what the friends and compatriots of some of our other political, media, and business leaders just so happen to know about one another.”



LFC 06.16.23 at 2:31 pm

Further to steven t johnson @8

Apparently Glenn Schembechler “liked” some 20,000 or so tweets (if you follow that link). Glancing at the linked article, some of the tweets indeed appear to have been offensive; others perhaps not so much. I don’t think there is anything racist in “liking” that particular quotation from Sowell about the black family — although the quote is rather stupid, it’s not racist. However, Schembechler seems to have gotten into trouble on the basis of the totality of the 20,000 tweets he “liked,” not on the basis of just one or two of them.


Liz Anderson 06.16.23 at 5:25 pm

Z, I have learned a great deal from Catharine MacKinnon. I recommend her classic works Sexual Harassment of Working Women and Toward a Feminist Theory of the State. As I have argued (in “Recent Thinking about Sexual Harassment,” Philosophy and Public Affairs 34: 284-311 (2006)), her structural account of gender helps illuminate the subordination and marginalization of LGBTQ people, as well as cishet male-on-male bullying.


Z 06.16.23 at 6:53 pm

Thank you Prof. Anderson, I appreciate it.


Ebenezer Scrooge 06.16.23 at 10:32 pm

One of the hardest issues in the moral education of a child is precisely on the issue of when to snitch, and when to keep quiet. Part of it is indeed bullies’ rules, but part of it is also preservation of horizontal solidarity in a hierarchical organization. On the same vein, smart managers knows that there is a lot of important stuff that they will never hear from below, or only receive in very discreet coded form.


RunnerJ 06.17.23 at 1:49 pm

Here’s one person’s account of experiences with bullying. It’s ubiquitous in society, at least in the U.S. Reading some of the comments above, I was reminded of a couple of the stories in this Instagram reel. Bullies and their enablers remind me a bit of musk oxen; they encircle and protect each other. I also think some men admire and protect prominent sex offenders because they wish they themselves too could commit such offenses and not be held accountable.



steven t johnson 06.17.23 at 3:15 pm

Previous response not published…
LFC misreads approval of Sowell’s book Marxism. I dismissed Sowell as a hack after reading it, nor do I think Nancy MacLean is an academic hooligan, despite a fixation on the Kochs. The Sowell tweets are at the top, and remarkable for the dismissal of a highly reputable Black professor as a racist. As for the totality? Perhaps for some reason the real blatant racism was buried somewhere down the line but what if the readings of most of those tweets was a questionable as the reading of Thomas Sowell as a notorious racist? I’m not going to read that much twitter, sorry.

My memory of January 6 doesn’t match Prof. Quiggin’s google search. Since it is agreed the rally and January 6 were nothing but white supremacy, nothing to do with anti-Communism (a very respectable position here, especially when called anti-Stalinism,) much less weird sexual panic (QAnon) or even anti-Semitism, any Black faces in the rally was like Black men in the KKK: Notable and concerning, even if there werren’t very many.

And it’s still true that validly assessing political support requires not just percentage of vote but the percentage of electorate as well as increases or decreases in them. And with due regard for margin of error/uncertainty.


engels 06.17.23 at 5:31 pm

Not proposing this as a psychological explanation of a story I’m unfamiliar with or as a general strategy for dealing with sexual assault (which would be ridiculous and offensive) but it is worth noting generally that the significance of acts of social aggression (humiliating or otherwise) is in part determined by the victim’s response and for many such acts (eg verbal insults) refusing to react or acknowledge the attack can be a positive tactic to defeat the hostile intention. I think this is missed in the dichotomy between violent retaliation and submission, and in much of today’s discussion generally.


Batocchio 06.18.23 at 8:12 am

This is an insightful piece that explains the dynamics well. Thank you.


Barry 06.22.23 at 2:15 pm

Steven T Johnson: “If this is the case, the number of Black supporters in the Trump rally is remarkable and remarkably concerning, yet somehow not an issue.”

Dozens, out of many thousands?


steven t johnson 06.22.23 at 5:33 pm

Barry@29 Dozens of Black Klansmen is remarkable and remarkably concerning and everyone who thinks January 6 was simply a white supremacist insurrection should be concerned. They didn’t even get to hide under a sheet at Trump’s rally!

For the record, I think white supremacy really was one impelling force, but so were anti-Communism (an imaginary target is still the target) and anti-Semitism (which is not the same thing as white supremacy) and weird quasi-religious sex panic millenarian religious spasm. Personally I find all these things objectionable but especially anti-Communism, as well as militant support for the state of Israel and even sex panic are things highly regarded in many quarters. People don’t want to criticize the ground they share. But then I also think a key aspect of January 6 was the way the military stood down for hours despite their direct responsibility for backing up the Capital Police. So, maybe that’s just me.


Ikonoclast 06.22.23 at 11:15 pm

To widen the focus, professional and quasi-professional sports are a waste of resources. They damage people, especially the contact sports, and the benefits – as such and if any – are not worth the expenditure of resources.

The NCAA is professional so far as staff as concerned and quasi-professional so far as players are concerned. The highest-paid college football coaches in 2022 were paid as follows:

Nick Saban salary: $11.7 million (Alabama)
Kirby Smart salary: $11.25 million (Georgia)
Dabo Swinney salary: $10.5 million (Clemson)

A US Court of Appeals judgment in September 2015 upheld the shamateurism status quo of the NCAA. Athletes can have their college fees paid as well as receive stipends to cover travel and living costs.

Clearly, the NCAA is a feeder system for the NFL. Extraordinary resources are wasted on the NFL including vast government subsidies for the billion dollar stadiums which operate, along with the teams, to make billionaire owners even richer. We can think of it simply that every stadium built means a public or non-profit hospital is not built. But the US and other neoliberal capitalist economies have long preferred to subsidize elite profits while letting large sections of their society fall ever deeper into poverty, ill-health and early death.

Professional, corporatized sport is part of the oppression system operated by the elites and part and parcel of their bread and circuses approach to population control for the purposes of elite profit. We should not fail to see the bigger picture.


MisterMr 06.23.23 at 8:13 am


What about non-professional sport? If I go to a boxe gym, the fact that I’m paying the coach is part of the oppression system?

It is true that “corporate” sports is part of the cultural system opheld by capitalism, but so are, for example, film festivals and Hollywood in general, state subsidized painting museums, the literature curriculum at school etc.

It seems to me that if one thinks in these terms it is to easy to just project one’s own preference on a anticapitalist (or generally anti-oppression) value system.


engels 06.24.23 at 9:34 am

What about non-professional sport?

Iirc before the days of megabucks TV corporate sponsorship sport, sport was basically invented and propagated by the British Empire to pacify the natives (full disclosure: I hate sport).

Comments on this entry are closed.