When Vogue magazine published its April 2008 issue, featuring on its cover the Annie Liebovitz photograph of NBA all-star LeBron James and Brazilian supermodel Gisele Bundchen, representatives for the magazine noted two things:
First: It was the first time in its 122-year history that Vogue had featured an African American man on its cover.
Second – and this, in the face of widespread critique of the image for what many media commentators saw as its reinforcement of racial stereotypes – the cover “sought to celebrate two superstars at the top of their game.”
According to University of Minnesota sociology Professor Douglas Hartmann, the Vogue magazine cover, and the controversy it generated, are suggestive of what he calls the “contested terrain” that is sport – where it can act as a force for change, and at the same time reproduce and reinforce the racial status quo. 
In his plenary lecture (“Sport, Media and the Construction of Race: Lessons from the 1968 Olympic Protests and Midnight Basketball”) during the 11th annual Black History Conference at Luther College last week, Hartmann described the ways in which sport is a ‘double-edged sword’ – “not just a place whereby racial interests and meanings are either inhibited or advanced; but rather a site where racial formations are constantly—and very publicly—struggled on and over.”
(For complete story, see Tuesday's Decorah Public Opinion).