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Sunday, September 21, 2003

Cuba, Baseball and a Public Sphere

Sorry I don't have time for a lot of content or research today. It was a Sunday and I spent some time with my family -- and watching baseball. KC actually moved into a tie for second place today, but the Twins have won 10 of 11 and took the division.

In any case, I will take this opportunity to encourage readers interested in either baseball or public sphere theory to take a look at this short article in the Village Voice by Beth Kwon. She discusses Cuban baseball fans who gather regularly at the José Martí statue in Havana's Parque Central. They talk about the prior night's games and about Cuban stars playing in the US -- and about virtually anything related to baseball.

Yes, it's a public sphere, marked by the participation of locals interested in baseball, expert members of Peña (which she call's "Cuba's answer to the Society for American Baseball Research"), and visiting tourists.

Interestingly, since access to sports news is limited in Cuba, the gatherings serve to provide interested parties with information they could not otherwise obtain -- and a forum to debate the meaning of that information.

Kwon includes a quote from Kit Krieger, who organizes baseball tours to Cuba -- and is a member of SABR. In a recent post to a SABR mailing list, Krieger said that 75 people might gather at these baseball talk sessions. It is "not a single conversation but a series of discussion or arguments that break out in various spots around Jose Marti." He also posted, that it is "in fact, a gathering of very devoted and critical baseball fans whose daily lives afford more opportunity than most of us have to talk about their passion." Apparently, this kind of public debate (about anything) is pretty rare in Cuba.

Krieger also noted in the SABR posting that a picture of this gathering can be found at his commercial website.

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