Here we have what are indubitably and without argument, the top seven collisions of sports and politics in 2010 that didn’t involve an elbow and Barack Obama’s mouth. Why seven and not ten? Deflation!
7 – Kye Allums makes history. The Jackie Robinson of 2010 goes by the name of Kye Allums. In November, Allums, a forward for the women’s basketball team at George Washington University, became the first openly transgender player in NCAA hoops history. Allums, who is biologically female, but identifies as male is postponing any medical procedures because he wants to keep his scholarship on the women’s team and play ball.
The repercussions of Allums decision to go public are still a great unknown. Transgender athletes throw into question the idea pounded into out heads from t-ball that boys play on one team and girls compete on another. Why do we separate athletes at the youngest possible age on the basis of something so fluid and mutable as gender? As more trans athletes come out, expect this question to go mainstream.
Allums ascent, as well as the uniformly positive reaction he received from teammates and the NCAA is a remarkable tribute to trans individuals and organizations who have in recent years insisted on a seat at the table when discussing, debating, and demanding LGBT rights. It’s impossible to imagine a Kye Allums going public even five years ago. But demonstrations like the October 2009 200,000 strong National Equality March, which gathered right next to Allums dormitory at GW, has made its impact felt. Perhaps Allums should be higher on this list. But the fact that he’s not, speaks to the warm reception he’s received and the fact that even in America, ideas do change.
6 – The sister cities of Vancouver and Johannesburg. It’s hard to imagine two more different cities than Vancouver, Canada and Johannesburg, South Africa. But they were chained at the lef in 2010, co-victims of 21st century international sport. Vancouver hosted the 2010 Winter Olympics and South Africa of course was the site of the World Cup. As someone who skulked the streets of both locales before the start of the spectacle, the similarities were striking. Both places had citizens nervous about the growth of police powers and shredding of civil liberties in advance of the tournaments. Both places had whole areas of housing moved or demolished to make way for sports-related facilities. Both places, in tight economic times, saw billions of public money siphoned off at the directive of FIFA and the IOC. As Johannesburg councillor Sipho Masigo said about the removal of the poor, "Homelessness and begging are big problems in the city. You have to clean your house before you have guests. There is nothing wrong with that."