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November 23, 2004

Jason Whitlock's Courage

You think you know where the Kansas City Star's Jason Whitlock is going with this column (free registration required). Stern's protecting his league, the style of play stinks, he's sending a message. Whitlock's a good writer, but this looks a little like a style-over-substance column, something he's writing about because he has to, and he just wants to write about it better. Then, like a blindside tackle, this hits you:


In this column, I am calling on my peers in the media to level with NBA players (and all professional athletes) and tell them what's really going on.

American sports fans, particularly those who consistently shell out the hundreds of dollars it takes to attend a professional game, are fed up with black professional basketball players in particular and black professional athletes to a lesser degree.



Yeah, let's cut through all the garbage and get to the real issue. The people paying the bills don't like the product, don't like the attitude, don't like the showboating and don't like the flamboyance. The NBA, which relies heavily on African-American players, is at the forefront of fan backlash. Stern realizes this, and that's why, spurred on by the Detroit brawl, he is reacting decisively.

What the players must come to grips with is that just because race is an element in the backlash, that doesn't mean the backlash is fueled by racism.

We're witnessing a clash of cultures. A predominately white fan base is rejecting a predominately black style of play and sportsmanship.

Who is on the right side of this argument? The group that is always right in a capitalistic society. The customer.

...

We, black people, begged for integration. We demanded the right to play in the major leagues, the NBA, the NFL, the NHL. These leagues accommodate a white audience. As long as the customer base is white, the standard for appropriate sportsmanship, style of play and appearance should be set by white people.

This is fair, particularly when the athletes/employees earn millions of dollars and have the freedom to do whatever and I mean whatever they want when they're not playing or practicing.

If African-American players are unwilling to accept this reality, NBA owners will speed up the internationalization of their team's rosters. Many African-American players with NBA-quality skill will soon find themselves circling the country playing basketball with Hot Sauce and the And 1 Tour while Yao Nowitzki collects a $10 million NBA check.

The black players will have no one to blame but themselves.

(emphasis added)

To quote Ron Artest, "that's like, 'wow.'"

I've always like Whitlock on the Sports Reporters. He doesn't deny who he is, he just doesn't think that every black athlete is a hero or gets a break, and every criticism of blacks is racist. That's the difference between him and, say, Bill Rhoden of the NYTM. Heck, that's the difference between him and Mike Lupica, who works himself up into self-righteous liberal indignation every other show.

There are some racists out there who will use Whitlock's column as self-defense. Well, there are immature athletes who've been using the power of crying, "racist" as cover for this kind of garbage for far too long. Whitlock has the sense to distinguish between race and racism, the understanding that actual racism is a tiny fraction of what it used to be, and the courage to brave being called all sorts of names by black "leaders" who don't get it. I'm sure that not a few emails to Mr. Whitlock were addressed to "Uncle Tom" Whitlock this morning.

Racism isn't when blacks are held to a "white" standard because they're people. Racism is when they're held to a different standard because they're black.

Posted by joshuasharf at November 23, 2004 10:41 AM | TrackBack
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