The Theoretical ‘‘Stretching’’ of Sport and the State
Two teenage boys enter a small plaza. One strips o√ his
shirt and places it on the ground, while the other takes a
worn, well-loved baseball glove out of a canvas bag. Placing
the glove and ball on the bench, he then paces o√ a distance
from his friend’s shirt and drops the sack. The shirtless youth picks up
the glove and tosses it and the ball to the other boy. The gloved youth
positions himself between the two markers on the ground, and the shirt-
less youth moves to the other side of the small plaza. The ‘‘batter,’’ the
shirtless youth, begins their game by bouncing the ball and striking with
a closed hand, trying to drive the ball past the ‘‘fielder’’ while remaining
‘‘fair,’’ that is, between the two markers. After several minutes of play,
they stop. The shirtless youth currently batting is unhappy because of the
ease with which the other can defend the space. They renegotiate the rules
and after they argue about the distance between the two markers, the
canvas bag is moved about three feet farther out. The game then resumes.
Having watched the game for some time from the panadería (bakery)
across the street, where Fulano and I sat in the shade, Fulano stood up
and announced, ‘‘Oye, Tomás. It’s time to go.’’ He calls into the dark,
musty interior of his small bakery and Fidel comes out to haul us on his
motorcycle and sidecar to Cerro. Fulano knows someone with an illegal
satellite dish and we are going to watch the final game of the 1997 World
Series between Florida and Cleveland. This Series has piqued many Cu-
bans’ interest because, for the first time since before the Revolution, a
Cuban athlete is playing a significant role in Major League Baseball.∞
Arriving in Cerro, the splendor of the crumbling architecture still evi-
dent, we dismount on Carlos III Avenue and Fulano leads me on foot
along the covered, marble promenades. Stopping between two magnifi-
cent former mansions, he looks both ways before ushering me into a
narrow passage. The sudden darkness is disconcerting. ‘‘Keep going,’’ he
cajoles, pushing on my shoulder, ‘‘keep going.’’ We pass several open
doorways and duck under a couple of clotheslines full of drying clothes.
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