Dave Meggyesy, tape 1

A talk entitled "The Radical Transformation of Sport in America" by Dave Meggyesy. It took place at a Rising Up Angry outreach program called Friends of Angry held at Holy Covenant United Methodist Church at 2747 N. Wilton Ave in Chicago. Rising Up Angry was a youth revolutionary activist group in the 1960s and 1970s. Meggyesy was an American football player turned union organizer and author of Out Of Their League, an autobiographical look at football that was critical of the sport's dehumanizing aspects and pro-capitalist values. This tape features the beginning of Meggyesy's talk, which focuses on his discussion of the dehumanizing value systems that are implicit and explicit within football.

0:04Copy video clip URL The tape opens on Rising Up Angry founder Michael James advocating that sports should be utilized to help build a better society. “If we’re thinking about building a good society, a progressive society, we need a lot of good health, we need energy.”

2:09Copy video clip URL Dave Meggyesy takes the podium. The camera only records fragments of what he’s saying, which seems to be basic announcements.

4:20Copy video clip URL He begins to talk about the main point: “A reorientation on Sport” and what it’s for. He talks about how many people have had negative experiences with athletics and sports, including how they tie in to prescriptive sex roles in society.

6:02Copy video clip URL He moves on to trying to move into what Sport “can be.” He admits that the transformation involved in Athletics Revolution will be long and hard, and talks about how sports have been utilized in Cuba.

8:07Copy video clip URL Meggyesy continues to talk about how a lot of people gave up on sports, especially in socialist groups, because sports were often linked to conservative establishments. He gives his own autobiographical example of his career in football and his eventual decision to leave.

12:48Copy video clip URL The camera cuts. He continues to talk about how sports play into reinforcing the way that America’s capitalist system runs. He speaks in particular about football, emphasizing that football is unique to the United States. He talks about how sports reflect the values and ethics of a culture, encouraging people to imagine they are a Martian that comes across a football game and sees “two groups of people interacting with each other” and to consider what conclusions you might draw from the social interactions in the game. “The social interaction is a pretty intense one,” and that whichever group gets “the brown object” then begins to try to claim territory. “The point is… the game simple is… [to] conquer and defend territory through legitimate violence. Okay? This a very Social Darwinistic notion.”

21:36Copy video clip URL “This general idea that says that success of human value or human worth is based upon the ability to conquer territory, to beat out the other guy, is very synchronous with the Nixon mentality.” He says that football internalizes this value system in people, and so football is beneficial to the ruling class. He lists the values that must be internalized in order to play football well: 1. Competition, 2. Aggression (“You gotta be… a dog-eat-dog competitor.”), 3. Respect for material gains, and 4. Respect for authority/the rules of the game. He calls the fourth value the most important, because it tells people to never question the rules of the ruling structure in their society.

25:46Copy video clip URL The camera cuts again. He is now addressing the crowd as being in search of a methodology that will express values that will construct a much more humane society. He quotes from a text discrediting Social Darwinism is falsely based on Darwin’s theory of predatory rather than social animals, and that in fact Darwin was clear that “for the human race, the highest survival value lies in intelligence, more sense, and social cooperation—not competition.” He goes on to talk about how the recent changes in football will make it more violent, increasing injuries. He is cut in mid sentence but seems to be talking about how this violence and danger of injury is beneficial for managers, because it will make the game more entertaining. He also talks about some of the more specific monetary issues with football and how it hurts players for the benefit of managers. “Professional football players… really don’t make that much money,” he says, comparing it to other exploitative owner/worker relationships under capitalism.



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