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Doing Time in the DepressionEveryday Life in Texas and California Prisons$
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Ethan Blue

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780814709405

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: March 2016

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9780814709405.001.0001

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Sport and Celebration in the Popular Culture of Punishment

Sport and Celebration in the Popular Culture of Punishment

(p.163) 6 Sport and Celebration in the Popular Culture of Punishment
Doing Time in the Depression

Ethan Blue

NYU Press

This chapter discusses sports in Texas and California prisons. Athletic programs in Texas and California state prison systems grew from small programs to large-scale organized events and celebrations from the Progressive Era through the New Deal years. They originated as part of the progressive impulse in the Northeast, where sports filled gaps in the disciplinary program opened by organized workers' protests over competition with inmate labor. Penologists quickly realized the utility in these athletic programs, whose intended pedagogy including teaching keen competition, fair play, sportsmanship, respect for authority, and rule compliance. Prisoners also found new value, meaning, and pleasure for themselves in athletics. Prison sports were structured by the social imperatives and class relations of the day. Baseball was segregated by race, especially in Texas, delineating anew the privileges of whiteness and denigrations of blackness.

Keywords:   inmate performance, prisoners, prison sports, race, rehabilitation, prison athletic programs

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