What your view of sports and life would be if you had too many concussions
This piece started as a reply to a blog on this topic over at Helmet And Pads Required, but it grew too long, so now it lives here as it’s own piece.
So that you may better understand the perspective from which this is being written. I am a middle-aged, educated black man who has seen his interest in the NBA wane over the past fifteen years. This is also not the first time I have written about what ails the NBA.
I grew up loving basketball. In fact, my dad had some sweet L.A. Laker season tickets during the “Showtime” era. There’s a reason why the 1980’s were the pinnacle of that league’s popularity – it was putting a better quality product on the floor. Granted, that quality has improved in the past few years, but there are several reasons why this league has some major financial problems. This whole “NBA All-Star Weekend is Black Thanksgiving/Race is the Problem” issue may or may not be one of them, but I will come back to that.
First, the NBA pays its players too much. Sixty percent of revenues are going to player salaries; that’s a model that would kill a lot of businesses like it is killing the NBA.
Compounding that problem is the fact that the NBA has priced itself out of the market for the average guy’s entertainment dollar. Try to take a family of four to a decent NBA game in halfway-decent seats and not spend 300 bucks. You can spend 30 bucks just parking your damn car. For 200 bucks, I can buy the NBA League Pass and see every game from the comfort of my own living room.
Why don’t I just do that? Because the package isn’t worth it. Let’s be honest, there are only about eight or nine teams in this league worth watching, The Spurs/Thunder game the other night was one of the best games I’ve watched in quite a while; on the other hand, you could count on your fingers how many people in the Eastern Time Zone were awake at the end of that Blazers/Nuggets game.
Lastly, the NBA has a problem with where it’s “marquee” franchises are. The NBA has theirs largely centered in places with large “urban” populations (and yes, we all know for what that is a “code word”). The NFL has a model in which it has teams of consequence and star power in places like Green Bay, Pittsburgh, and Indianapolis. The NFL also has a ton of popularity. The NBA needs to find a way to get more Oklahoma City and San Antonio; it’s got enough Los Angeles, Chicago, New York, Boston and Miami.
And that “code word” brings us back to the issue of race. I’m not sold that race plays as big a role in the NBA’s problems; I can build an equally convincing argument in my mind both pro and con. But I can tell you one thing – There is one very ugly reality about race in this country nobody is talking about: race relations in this country will stay on the same treadmill until blacks are willing to admit that in the last 25 years, they have taken ownership of a significant chunk of the responsibility for the state of such relations in America.
Blacks in this country love to act like they are incapable of racism. Nothing could be further from the truth. Let me tell you a couple of first-hand stories which illustrate that point.
I have an immediate female relative (I’m being deliberately vague because if it is discovered that I aired this bit of family laundry publicly, I will be in more hot water than I’m willing to get into over a blog). When said relative’s daughter was approaching college age, plans were in place for here to attend a nearby large state university, until one thing happened. The daughter had the audacity to bring home a white prom date. Next thing you know, this girl got shipped off to one of those “traditional” black colleges in the South because “there is no way in hell my daughter is going to end up married to some white boy.”
I have to digress a bit to tell the second story; follow me as I wander, it comes back to a crucial point. I married into a white family, and after I blazed the “Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner” trail, one of the male members of this family showed up at Thanksgiving with a black girlfriend whom he had already impregnated and planned a wedding with. Now, the baby isn’t even born yet, and there are battle lines being drawn over how this child is going to be raised. Know who is making all the ultimatums and issuing the dictates over how this child will be raised. It isn’t the white side of this poor kid’s family.
I mention this because I noticed both on this blog and in the comments references to Barack Obama and Tiger Woods. Know what the first “black” president and the first dominant “black” golfer have in common? Neither of them are black; they are both of mixed-race descent. Barack Obama is as much white as he is black, and Tiger Woods is even “less black” than that as both his parents were also of mixed heritage. But blacks have this “one drop of blood” mentality which means anybody with even the most-removed black heritage is inherently black.
This is the part where you are asking what the hell does this have to do with sports? This is where it gets ugly, because the subject of how black America treats mixed-race children illustrates black hypocrisy on race better than any other, and is that same black hypocrisy which anchors us to the discussion on race in sports. Growing up as mixed-race children, both Woods and Obama at some point had to make a choice as to which culture in which they were going to live. Woods largely had this decision made for him by his sport; the American golf world is a white one. Obama started in one world, being raised by the white side of his family and going by the name of “Barry.” He didn’t become “Barack” and embrace the black culture until he discovered that was part and parcel to advancing his career in Chicago politics. It also played a factor in who he married.
Go back to the immediate female relative I mentioned earlier. Demographically speaking, she is identical to Michele Obama, meaning she grew up middle class, and went to a good college, where she was accepted to the sorority of her choice, only to discover what the word “token” means, and has been pissed off at the whole world ever since. In other words, they are both members of a class that could drive “black” culture in a positive direction, yet they choose to be angry about everything.
That’s the key to this whole issue, anger. If you believe that white people won’t watch the NBA because it is full of black people, understand that the reason is anger. The vast majority of white people in this country are not racists. The vast majority of white people in this country have done what they can to open doors once closed to blacks (including sports). Let’s be honest, the whole underpinning of modern American liberalism is “white guilt.” The quickest way to get kicked off “Soccer Mom Island” is to drop the N-bomb in a conversation; ever since the OJ Simpson murder trial, the worst thing you can do to a white person in America is to call them a racist.
Yet it happens every day. Worse yet, it is a label that gets thrown on people that don’t deserve it. It is a label that can be legitimately, albeit wrongly, used whenever blacks have a problem. It’s easy, just take the “angry black” route and paint “whitey” with the racist brush, and therefore all your troubles become “the man’s” fault. The trouble is white people are growing angry at this race-baiting “boy that cried wolf” scenario. Sports live in the same world we all do, and they aren’t immune to its social currents. The fact is, that in sports and in real life, white people are simply tired of being called names and they are just going to stop dealing with the people doing the name calling, especially when those who are throwing the rocks of racism are living in the proverbial glass house.
Until there’s a realistic representation within the upper echelons of sports at the executive level then one could say that there’ll always be that perception of racism within sports. If someone like Magic Johnson who’s worth close to $ 750 million can’t even get his foot through the door in NASCAR then that tells you all you need to know . Never mind the fact that you have an idiot like Limbaugh in the wings with his asinine comments on the NFL . Let’s not forget that other jack ass Don Imus and his rant at the Rutgers women’s basketball team . In the after math of that he tried to suggest that he wasn’t racist because he’s adoptive father of minorities in all parts of the globe. I couldn’t care if he’s had sex with a sista’ what he said and how he said was idiotic and with some racial overtone ! It’s all part of his shtick to begin with !
Check out my piece on Dave Duerson the ex Giants and Bears’ player I’d sent you an e-mail on it.
Let’s be clear here. I am not saying racism doesn’t happen. Your mention of the Imus incident was a clear example. That was all about an old bigot shooting his mouth off, plain and simple.
My point is that in today’s America, race relations are a two-way street, and nobody is holding blacks accountable for their end. Racism is a dreadful thing, and it must be combatted at every turn, but it does more harm than good to that cause when people keep painting things as racist that really aren’t.
For example, I completely refuse to just wave a wand and ascribe the Magic Johnson issue to racism. That is precisely what I am talking about when I say that is taking the easy way out of an issue. I don’t know exactly what is going on in this situation, and neither do you. But I do know two things. Negotiations like that which involve millions of dollars aren’t conducted in public, and all I know about Magic Johnson is his public persona. What if behind closed doors he is such an unconscionable asshole nobody wants to do business with him? You don’t know if that is true or not, much like you don’t know if the situation is really a racial one.
The Limbaugh thing is actually one of my “hot buttons.” Call Limbaugh whatever name you want, the fact is he is a blowhard who makes a living saying controversial things. ESPN knew that when they hired him, in fact, that’s WHY they hired him. The ugly reality is that everything Limbaugh said about Donovan McNabb was TRUE (as a lifelong Eagle fan, I literally stood and cheered when he said McNabb was “over-rated”). But when those statements were falsely painted as being racially-motivated, ESPN ran for the tall grass and fired Limbaugh for doing exactly that which they hired him to do. The worst part is that if you think for a minute ESPN fired Limbaugh because it is being “politically correct” you couldn’t be more mistaken. Limbaugh got fired for outing a dirty truth, that the NFL DOES have a social agenda and that it is based on the flawed model of Affirmative Action.
You touch on that with your reference to “a realistic representation.” I reject out of hand that quota argument that says because X percent of the population is of a certain group, then x percent of a particular vocation must also be of that group. That’s just “Jim Crow” dressed up in 20th-Century liberalism. It assumes that membership of a group is a qualification, it devalues the positive qualities of an individual, and worse yet, it sets up people placed in jobs for which they are under-qualified to fail. But the thought-police from the New American Left have done a fabulous job of stifling criticism of their baby.
Rather, I ask the question, “what are we doing to prepare minorities for roles in management and leadership?” The answer is “not much.” The NFL is a prime example. Coaching in the NFL has evolved into an executive level management position, and this league does nothing to prepare people for that type of responsibility, instead it pretends that just because somebody was a great player, they will be a great coach.
The bottom line is that racism is a problem that will not be solved by waving magic wands or enacting quick-fix, “feel-good” solutions. It requires a commitment from all sides in this society, and the first step is taking a realistic view of what racism really is.
What the hell is the internet coming to, allowing black people to run blogs anyway?
There goes the blogosphere.
Feel free to visit sportschump.net where it’s all white, all the time.
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“All white, all the time?” Who the hell wants to read a blog about NASCAR and curling? Although, let me know when you add that Square-Dancing page you’ve been talking about.
You don’t think it’s racism with regard to Magic and a href=”http://nascar.com/”> NASCAR ? They used him as the token ” nigga ” for all of 30 seconds before showing his ass the door ! Now you tell me how many African Americans are involved in the sport other than perhaps being ” grease moneys ” . ………… pardon the term ? Cause as such there’s little evidence to suggest at the lower echelons changes are on the way even in spite of their so called ‘diversity program ‘ .
So you’re trying to say he might be an unconscionable asshole ? Try telling that to the likes of the 12,500 employees within his companies and the likes Starbucks , Nike and an a slew of other Fortune 500 companies who come knocking at his door to have commercial tie ins with the guy ? It’s that sort of thought that shows how fu_cking far off the beaten track this country is in more ways than one ! You’ve got a guy looking to create jobs not just within the community but across racial lines as well . NASCAR as a business template much like each of the four major sports are completely devoid of creativity and ideas both long and short term ! Remind you of any other current governmental institutions that simply couldn’t find their own ass with a magnifying glass on a clear day ?
It doesn’t matter what I think; when it comes to hanging an accusation of racism on somebody, it matter what can be proven. I’m really done listening to people on this subject who are long on conjecture and short on fact. You show me an overt act; you show me some solid evidence and I’m with you all the way. Until then, you’re just crying wolf, which makes it worse for everybody.
Let’s turn the tables a wee bit, shall we? What if someone were to come to me and say “You that Tophatal guy? You klnow he’s a misogynist and a sexist, right? Look at his website; his content is all about pictures of half-naked women and he’s always calling Sarah Palin an idiot.”
Matter little if those women get paid for those poses, and it matters little that Palin may in fact be one of the thinnest political minds of our time. If I flew solely on that sort of conjecture, I’d have my conclusion.
If you’re merely basing your opinions on a few scattered pieces of (my) content rather than delving into stuff I’ve written you’d get more of an insight about me . The fact of the matter is when you have someone like Palin who can’t single handedly name a Supreme Court Justice ruling of the last 25 years that she felt she couldn’t agree with then you have to look the woman’s intelligence as a whole or did you actually feel those Couric interviews overpowered her ?
Am I really crying wolf with regard to the overtones of racism within NASCAR or moreover sports in general . Less I forget the US military wasn’t fully integrated before Robinson started pro ball in MLB . So before you think I’m the one crying wolf let’s really distinctly look at the facts overall.
“If you’re merely basing your opinions on a few scattered pieces of (my) content rather than delving into stuff I’ve written you’d get more of an insight about me.”
This is exactly my point – but you’ve managed to completely miss it. You took offense to my “basing an opinion rather than delving into stuff I’ve written,” yet are are completely willing to do exactly the same thing to others when it suits you.
Do I believe you are crying wolf? I believe you are exactly the guy I’m taking about who fans flames without offering a single quantifiable fact to back up his assertions. You haven’t offered a single thing other than conjecture and what sounds like a lot of ideologically-based rhetoric to back up your assertion about the Magic Johnson situation. Rather, you blow a lot of smoke and make reference to things that happened 60 years ago. Worse yet, it is very clear you hardly bother to read anything being said here.
Since you are either incapable of or unwilling to engage in a reasoned discussion on this matter, this will be my last reply to you on this subject.
Can’t we all just get along?
While working out at the gym the other day, I saw a CNN piece about the 20th Anniversary of the Rodney King incident. The first thing I thought…man am I old. I can’t believe that happened 20 decades ago.
As far as your post is concerned, you make a lot of valid points. While this white man has been and always will be an NBA junkie…unless I get tickets I certainly can’t afford to go to more than a couple games a year.
Nice post, I read it awhile back but never responded because I didn’t have the time. I feel the same way within the Asian community. It’s funny that all my white friends call me Asian no questions asked, but a true Asian that either grew up or parents grew up in China or Taiwan (like my current girlfriend) wouldn’t consider me Asian. They would consider me white, because of the culture I adopted over two generations of my family being in the US. I couldn’t agree with you more on your post.
Marcellus Wiley was on the radio the other day talking about how poverty stricken areas would all buy Jordan’s new shoe the second it came out while he was growing up in Compton. He used it as an example of getting something that you want without worrying about the financial ramifications. He went on to say when a player gets their first few paychecks, all they do is stock up on meaningless stuff like Jordan sneakers that don’t help them in the long run. He also said when a guy has $8M in the bank and all his friends have $5 in their account it’s impossible to not want to spread the wealth. He thinks as long as the players are coming from poverty stricken areas this will be the trend.
Before you can judge why people view these overpaid athletes the way they do, you have to look back to the roots. Black people were brought here in slave trade, and are the only culture that didn’t want to be in America that came here. As you said in the post, the most successful “black” people are mixed with a little something else that showed them ways to succeed.
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Wiley hits on a important point; and one that crosses all the race and class lines we have in this country. For some reason, we as a society have decided that some people are not held accountable for the consequences of decisions they made.
The classic case in point is the bankrupt ex-athlete. Let’s be clear, I’m not talking about the guy like Kareem Abdul-Jabbar who got ripped off by an agent. I’m talking about the guy who made multiple millions of dollars and blew it all on bad decisions, then gets portrayed by the media as some sort of “victim.” Just wait until we have lockouts in the NFL and NBA; just wait for all the “broke” $10 million per year guys you will hear about. The bottom line if you made a fortune in sports, then pissed it away, that’s YOUR fault; you are not the “victim” of a system that inflicted whichever “disadvantage” you are trying to claim.
I couldn’t agree more. This is for the Antoine Walker’s, Latrell Spreewell, and the Allen Iverson’s of the world. It’s unimaginable to the common person how they could go broke, but when the do I feel no sympathy even though some seem to. They shouldn’t be a victim, instead they should be examples the players unions use to tell these kids when they are coming into the league to save some money. Do they want to live like they did before they got their contract? Probably not, but if they do spend away!
When you have any athlete simply forgo an education merely to chase after the cash more likely than not this will always somehow be the end result ! Does anyone remember the situation concerning former NFL player Dexter Manley ? His a_s couldn’t even read his contract much less somehow sign his name . He was illiterate but somehow he made his way in the NFL when many around knew many of his problems .