Professor says John Madden built a 'digital plantation' only hours after coach's death

A history professor at Dallas College wrote critical social media posts about football icon John Madden hours after the coach's death was announced.

He claimed that Madden contributed to racism and violence through his work in the video game industry.

Andrew McGregor, a history professor at Dallas College, shared his criticisms of John Madden via Twitter hours after the legendary football coach and commentator passed away Tuesday morning. 

McGregor claimed that Madden contributed to the dehumanization of black athletes and “glamorized violence” through his influence in popularizing football video games, among other things.

On his Instagram page, McGregor describes himself as “the vegan liberal college professor FOX News warned you about” and provides his pronouns. He specializes in sports history.

Beginning his series of tweets, McGregor stated yesterday that he has “lots of opinions on John Madden.” 

These opinions include “Madden built a digital plantation” by “transform[ing] human behaviors into artificial numbers and simulations” and “glamoriz[ing] athletes, using their name for profits while encouraging fans to disregard the humanity.”

[RELATED: Prof suggests there are too many White people in college sports]

McGregor focused especially on the alleged effect Madden’s legacy has had on minority athletes.

The professor claimed that it is “pretty clear” that most of Madden’s accomplishments “were not beneficial or healthy for athletes, particular non-white athletes.” 

McGregor was also critical of video games and football generally. According to him, football is “one of the most violent and exploitative sports” and video games “[distance] the reality of the violent sport from fans.”

He concluded his thread by stating: 

“When your entire life is based on expanding and profiting off of one the of most violent and exploitative games, veneration is not exactly something that you deserve,” in reference to Madden.

The response to McGregor’s opinions was overwhelmingly negative. 

As of Dec. 29, his initial tweet received over 380 likes compared to over 10,000 quote tweets and over 9,000 replies as of this publication. The bulk of reactions were either criticism or mockery of McGregor.

It seems McGregor wasn’t always so opposed to the Madden video game franchise as he described playing one of the games with his brother in a 2017 tweet.

Four hours after his initial posts, the professor created another thread on Twitter where he expanded on his criticisms of video games and fantasy sports, which he said are “at the heart of my critique of Madden because he symbolizes their rise to prominence, and how fans now relate to the game and issues of race, labor, consumption through the prism of roster management and control.”

“Management and control are at the heart of video games and fantasy sports,” he asserted. “Players want to build super teams to win. They build rosters to compile stats and make big plays.”

Doing this with “with computer generated players,” he continued, “dehumanizes real ones, and augments our relationship to violence.”

According to McGregor, “few people like to critically think about how [video games and fantasy sports] relate to race, labor, and consumption of a violent and exploitative sport.”

McGregor also retweeted another post which blames Madden for causing concussions by popularizing football video games.

McGregor has written extensively about his views on race in sports history, dedicating over 20,000 words to the subject on his blog alone.

In one such blog post McGregor writes that the acceptance of minority athletes is “part of a constant renegotiation born out of late-nineteenth century notions of respectability tied to a white supremacist racial hierarchy endemic to Anglo-American culture that is baked into our social, political, and sporting institutions.” 

This is part of what he calls his theory of “The Sporting Middle Ground.”

McGregor also claims that any power racial minorities may acquire as a result of playing professional sports “is bounded up in racial capitalism — a devastating intermixing of exploitative capitalist practices with the increasingly innovative bondages of white supremacy.”

Campus Reform contacted McGregor and Dallas College for comment; this article will be updated accordingly.

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