Super Dome Is Back But What About New Orleans

Updated: January 15, 2007



Watching the action Saturday

in the SuperDome was

definitely not a reminder

Of the SuperDome less than 1 1/2 years ago in September 2004 in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. That is a cause for hope or despair. As you prefer. No doubt about it New Orleans’ SuperDome has been completely put back together again from an engineering point of view better than ever. Certainly the SuperDome got a facelift it would not have if not for Katrina.

But we all know the SuperDome chaos following Katrina when thousands of African Americans stranded in New Orleans filled the arena in an encampment that was something like a prison of war compound. Except that conditions in some prison camps were far better.

Something else interesting if that is the right word is that Black Americans filled the SuperDome’s floor following Katrina and again Saturday at the boisterous NFL play off game mostly Black Americans were on the SuperDome’s floor this time playing football. If not in the stands.

Up in the stands Saturday unlike the weeks following Katrina this Saturday those seats were packed almost everyone with White New Orleanians. All the contrasts between now and then are glaring. During the broadcasts and in all the sports reports it was all portrayed as very positive. The new SuperDome.

It is and it isn’t

New Orleans displaying itself at its very best which is what it did with the New Orleans Saints going from last place last season to first place this year and then winning big Saturday over Philadelphia 27-24 with 70,000 delirious fans in the stands. NEW ORLEANS IS BACK !

Or is it

In fact vast sections of New Orleans remain devastated and far and away the large former African American population of the Big Easy is suffering most of all. Most African Americans still unable to return. Maybe never able to return.

This point highlights the dichotomy between sports and real life as well as any real life situation. Black New Orleanians now relocated in large numbers in places like Houston watched the game to a bittersweet taste yes wanting “their” team to win but feeling it was no longer really their team or their city.

That is compounded by the fact NO expense was spared to put the Saints back together again and playing back in New Orleans just as soon as humanly possible because it would be GOOD for New Orleans and its future as attested to by those 70,000 mostly White Fans filling the “new” SuperDome to its rafters.

While at the same time both by conscious decisions of the government as well as good old neglect – two sides of the same process – no such commitment has been made to these ‘former’ residents of New Orleans eager to come home.

What we are left with a very notable example of the reality of Sports and its relationship to the wider society played out again and again and again in so many ways. Ways that was mostly ignored on and off the sports pages of America. And yet one more example of the place of African Americans in the world of Sports. So essential to Sports success but off the field often discounted, ignored and even abused. Just like the story in New Orleans.

So cheer for the Saints but

what about New Orleans ?

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