stealing home
Home  |  About the Film

the debate
cuban national league
cuban baseball yesterday
sport & society
the defectors
web resources
screensaver
About the Film
STEALING HOME explores Cuban baseball at the beginning of a new century as a country struggles to preserve not only a dated revolution, but also a important symbol of its viability. This documentary presents Cuban baseball to American audiences in a way that has not been previously considered: it focuses on the role the Cuban National League plays in the society and how that prized position is jeopardized by the recent player defections.

The socialist revolution in Cuba redefined baseball, shifting the sport's focus from the star athlete to the spectators who enjoy their performances. In exchange for a national pastime that would be inclusive and internationally superior, athletes have had to suppress personal ambition in the interests of the greater good; they are required to play exclusively for their home province and are restricted from playing professional baseball abroad. The arrangement worked for a time, but the recent defections evidence a change of attitude. Many athletes have decided that they are no longer able to accept this implicit social contract; they have left Cuba hoping to realize some version of the "American Dream." And in turn the Cuban government, unable to guarantee quality sports for spectators, has, in desperation, enacted laws punishing would-be defectors for "behavior unbefitting of a model athlete."

Cuban baseball is in a state of transition. Popular Cuban National League teams have deteriorated after losing standout players. The previously unbeatable national team lost to Japan in the 1997 Intercontinental Cup; it was the first international loss in decades. Spectators are outraged; fan attendance has dwindled. And Cuban society has been forced to ask the uncomfortable question: should the socialist approach to baseball be preserved? For the defected players and suspended players who have endured government harassment and public humiliation, the answer is: "not at my expense." For the state, socialist posterity may depend on it. For the spectators, the answer is much more complicated; they stand to lose the most. Baseball is a primary source of free entertainment, and more abstractly, national pride. Ironically though, it is the fans who most sympathize with defected and suspended players, understanding perfectly the individual's desire for self-determination.

Ultimately STEALING HOME probes a compelling socio-political question that is fundamental to any political ideology: should an individualís right to self-determination be sacrificed to protect the interests of society at large? The audience will be invited to weigh the complex interplay of costs and benefits, and confront its own position on individual freedom versus the collective good.
 

back to the top