“Black & Blue” by Andra Douglas

I do not hate football, but I am not a fan either. Professional football for me, at its heart, is a comparatively genteel throwback to the days when gladiators fought for their lives and freedom in the Roman Coliseum and jaded spectators thrilled to the possibility of injury and/or death. It is more though. Sport is another form of theater depicting two groups locked in a tooth and nail struggle for supremacy, it is a ticket to a better life for many who might otherwise not find one, and it is an often wildly entertaining spectacle capable of inflaming the dreams and passions of individuals from every walk of life. There are many reasons why it is one of humanity’s pre-eminent organized sports.

ANDRA DOUGLAS FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/andradouglasart/

Andra Douglas dreamed of playing football from an early age. As she observes early on in her book  Black & Blue: Love, Sport and the Art of Empowerment , football is woven into the cultural fabric of the American South and she was never immune to its allure. She was, however, chided and denied a chance to participate in the sport she loved as a true equal for many reasons, some valid, some flatly outrageous. This happens despite her outclassing the athletic talents of many male peers playing the sport and despite an obvious intuitive understanding of the game outstripping many of her male counterparts as well.

The book depicts how she moved on with her life despite social structures denying her dreams but never allowed them to die. After moving from the South to New York City in the early 1980’s hoping to make a living as an artist, Douglas began playing football with a group of women who organized themselves in a regional semi-professional league. Those experiences developed when some later questionable entrepreneurs proposed building a full professional women’s football league and Douglas soon became one of its prime movers when she purchased the local New York Sharks franchise.

AMAZON: https://www.amazon.com/Black-Blue-Love-Sports-Empowerment/dp/1733583505

The book documents her sometimes harrowing experiences attempting to help the new team and league gain commercial and financial traction. It also remorselessly depicts the toll pursuing her passions inflicted on her personal life, familial relationships, and overall peace of mind. Douglas, through it all, keeps her eyes on the proverbial prize. Black & Blue, time and again, portrays her as obeying an insistent inner voice that simply refused to go silent and the resulting satisfaction she gains from heeding its message is one of the book’s most inspirational elements.

It does an exemplary job as well depicting the cadre of characters who accompanied her on this journey and brings them to life with the vigor you would find in a first rate novel. Black & Blue: Love, Sport and the Art of Empowerment is more than a historical account of women’s sports in the late 20th century and early 21st, it is an entertaining and wholly satisfying reading experience that will hold up under repeated reading. Andra Douglas has accomplished much in her life  and she can add one more accolade to her long list of victories. She is a first rate writer.

Michael Rand

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