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.