News Flashes and New Piece

Business…here’s a piece I did for the BSN comparing Ben Roethlisberger’s motorcycle crash with Kellen Winslow’s.
So this job at Dook is whoopin’ my ass somethin vicious. Posting will increase after next week, when I get my life back. In the meantime, two things have happened.
First–get ready, Elon University. Baba will be teaching two economics classes there. Let’s see how long it takes them to get hip to just what they’ve stepped into.
Also–get ready, King Magazine readers. Baba will be their official sports blogger. I’ll let you know the start date, and I’ll have a link on the site as soon as all of that’s ready. Let’s see how long it takes them to get hip to just what they’ve stepped into.
And now, back to grading papers. I’ve learned something in this process–it’s real easy to see why teachers come to hate students.

15 thoughts on “News Flashes and New Piece”

  1. Great article.
    As a Born and raised Steeler fan, surely you realize it is hard to be objective about this, but even this is a no-brainer.
    Ben is universally beloved, even if he IS a bit of a lunkhead on certain levels.
    K2 has had a bullseye placed on him since he came out of HighSchool, for reasons both obvious (some of the things he has said and done on and off the field, while not malicious, certainly didnt endear himself to the melanin challenged) and not so obvious (Big Kellen irked a lot of folk back then talking about number of black coaches on staff playing a part in where K2 was going to go to college, especially his alma mater Mizzou)
    We all know white folk are still mad their kids wanna be rappers and not rock stars.
    They are irritated their sons and daughters chase behind and emulate the descendants of people who were supposed to be inferior to them.
    I dont even think it is purposeful…
    Its just natural, just as we are predisclosed to root for the brotha…they are predisclosed to cheer for their misfortune…
    not that it’s right…just sayin

  2. I ride the nuts of no man, but it seems like you’re getting more major by the day. Keep doing what you do homeboy. If you notice your star getting worse mileage, it’s because my wagon’s hitched to it.

  3. Good luck and congratulations on the teaching thing Bo. I’ve been doing it for about 12 years here at the School of Architecture at UH and it is very rewarding. However, you do become attached to your students, and unfortunately you share in the ups and downs of their lives a bit. I say this because a student of mine from a couple of years ago suddenly died; I mean literally “dropped dead” on Memorial Day. She was a real smart, sweet and bubbly girl. She was one of the ones who “got it” and made you feel like your teaching is making a difference. I felt like you did when you posted the story about the young man who went through the window in his dorm.
    Anyway, I know you’ll inspire many kids the way your professors inspired you…

  4. I don’t think the K2 issue has much to do about race as it does about character. I think as an athlete, K2 was already on the map as a hot-headed young male – made obvious by his odd and baffling interview where he claimed he was a “soldier” or sorts. I realize that he was young and speaking in the heat of the moment, but regardless of whether someone thinks it was right or wrong for him to say what he said, you still have to understand how that can skew someone’s judgement of another individual. And we all know, we all make judgements, at some time or another. It’s no different when people write or present stories.
    Having had this reputation as a hot-head or whatever you would like to call it and having been known as thoughtless with his comments (outrageously claiming that he was a “fucking soldier” actually), I think it was easy for people to treat him like, “well, that’s karma.” Especially because he, like Big Ben, had the whole young, famous, rich and invincible attitude going on. It was all about his attitude. Also, I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that the Steelers just won a Super Bowl and that Big Ben has been nothing short of historical with his starting record. Had this happened when the Steelers came off of a poor season, I think the critics would have been harsher. Although, unless Ben showed that same hot-headedness and that invincible attitude and the brashness you speak of, I don’t think the critics would ever be AS harsh.
    I don’t care what you do for a living, how much you make, how famous you are, if you’re not a humble and gracious human being, you’re just giving everyone an advantage when something goes wrong for you.
    If Barry Bonds had AIDS instead of Magic Johnson, people would care less in general. It’s not right and it’s sad but I think it’s true. Why should the media play nice-guy to someone who thinks they are uppity? It’s still a human to human and a person to person relationship – if someone is going to have an “invincible” attitude, they damn well better be invincible.
    I think it has a lot less to do with race then it does character. Race plays a minor role, but it’s impossible to quantify.

  5. PWordsmitch wrote:
    I guess your natural is different than my natural…
    So you’re saying when Team USA plays basketball in the Olympics, I root for the European team? When James Blake plays Roger Federer, I root for Federer? Or if James Blake played Gael Monfils (France) you’d root for Monfils because James is half-white?
    I think I understand the point you were making, but it only applies to a percentage. Sweeeping generalizations (you made the point that all white folks feel that way) is what perpetuates racism. No matter which side it comes from.
    Not trying to start a flame war here, but I was really bothered that I’m considered racist just because I’m white, (or look like I could be white). You didn’t use that word, but what you stated is the very definition.

  6. I dunno, but I think you may be a bit off the mark on this one, for a few reasons. Should Winslow have gotten a bit more sympathy? Probably, but that presupposes to some degree that people think of athletes as humans that make mistakes, which very few people truly do believe. If they did, no one would ever get booed off of a field or a pitching mound.
    If Ben R. had been wearing a helmet, he’d be in better shape now, granted. But, neither the helmet nor the license were going to make that old woman stop the car when she was supposed to. That doesn’t mean he shouldn’t have had both a helmet and a license, but the lack of either or both is not what caused the accident, so to many, he is a victim.
    Winslow, on the other hand, fucked himself up popping wheelies in a parking lot like a child. That was something that could have been avoided entirely, and he could have avoided it all by himself. So, he is not viewed as a victim.
    Another point of contention – Roethlisberger IS going to get a little more slack from his team and fans, right or wrong, because he’s actually accomplished something. Roethlisberger has more Super Bowl rings than Winslow has TD catches, and they were drafted on the same day. Also, it’s questionable as to whether Roethlisberger will even miss any playing time from his injuries, whereas Winslow’s dumb idea cost him and the Browns another season. Even if Roethlisberger does miss any time, it’s more likely to be preseason, where he would have played a total of 8 minutes anyway.
    Maybe if Winslow hadn’t missed the previous season with a legitimate injury, people would be a bit more forgiving. But, because he could have avoided his injuries all by himself, Winslow just isn’t going to have too many tears shed for him.

  7. Rex you make a very valid point.
    I should be more specific.
    Cause I ROOT against you, does not make me racist against you. I means I PREFER what I prefer, or I wish better fortune upon that group than another group.
    Self-identification plays a HUGE part in that. That is why teams carry the name of cities, states and municipalities in their name. I am a Steeler fan almost SOLELY because that is the team of my hometown. Even as I have disavowed the Pirates since 1992, I still follow them and hope they can overcome the horrendous mistakes they made to encourage me to drop them like they were ice cold.
    I think because K2 was polarizing figure, and because he was Black, many whites who have know particular ax to grind will sign off on whatever the conventional wisdom is and pile on accordingly. I probably went too far by saying they wished MISFORTUNE, altough a significant minority of them do.
    Thank you for encouraging me to revise and extend my remarks.

  8. I don’t know, in his ESPN interview last year about the risks of riding without a helmet, Roethlisberger suggested that he wasn’t in any real danger because he was “safe.” The “I’m too tough to be injured” mentality is only one part of thinking one’s invincible. There’s also the “it won’t happen to me” mentality.
    The Winslow/“soldier” controversy was utter bullshit. Do you know how many athletes refer to their chosen sport contests in military terms?: “When I go to war, these are the guys I want in the trenches with me.” Athletes are notorious for speaking in cliches, and the military stuff ranks right up there with “One game at a time,” “The win is all that matters” and “I just want to thank God for giving me these abilities.” NFL officials and journalists refer to each team’s behind the scenes draft room as the “War Room.” Disrespectful to our fighting men and women, no?
    This was a matter of these sports media types (you know the ones—they feign moral outrage at any and everything that sullies the supposed purity of their sacred sports) just looking to blow something out of proportion because they hated Winslow Jr., and weren’t too thrilled with Sr. either, for that matter. On one of these sports pundit shows, Jay Mariotti went so far as to say that Sr. was a “bad father.”
    Kirk is also right that Big Ben’s case is different than Winslow’s because Winslow was popping wheelies, but it doesn’t matter. Had he merely been rolling without a helmet, they would have been just as relentless.
    And I think Pwordsmith is right that personal identification plays a huge role in sports fandom, and race is often prominent, but Rex is right that it isn’t absolute. And while I think that it is rarely conscious, it certainly isn’t “natural,” though it’s hardly surprising.
    But Bomani is right—this is bigger than race. The same white sportswriters who hold an antagonism toward young black athletes that they don’t with any other type of athlete probably list Jordan, Magic, Ali, Mays, etc. as their favorite athletes. Moreover, older black men echo this disdain for what they term “hip hop” athletes.
    The problem with talking about race in sports is the problem that confronts people any time race comes up: people don’t get that race doesn’t equate to white people duking it out with black people, nor does race have to supersede all–it can be one of many factors.

  9. And Rex, your examples are problematic because they inject nationality into the equation. Having said that, even excellent non-American players who are perceived as white (Nash, Dirk, Ginobili) have found a unique critical favor here. Rex, it’s funny that you mention the US Olympic basketball team. Several sportswriters and American fans not only openly loathed the team, they rooted against them. This was the 1st time in US Olympic history that normally fervent nationalists have ever rooted against a US team (Whitlock had an OK piece about this a couple summers ago). Despite poor showings by US Hockey, Soccer, Baseball (doesn’t matter that the latter two contain[ed] black players; they are both widely perceived as “white” sports in America….or at least “non-black” sports) none of these patriotic types would ever root against these teams. Add this unique disdain to the fact that common fans referred to this team comprised exclusively of black players as “thugs” and “criminals” (Duncan, Amare, Lebron, Wade, and Marion are all thugs apparently) and it’s difficult to argue that the response to the team wasn’t a matter of the antagonism toward young black men boiling over to the point of the absurd.

  10. First, PWordsmith, thanks for your response… we’ll have to agree to disagree on some of your points (mostly with your original post), but I understand about associative loyalties…
    Secondly, eauhellzgnaw, you wrote: –and it’s difficult to argue that the response to the team wasn’t a matter of the antagonism toward young black men boiling over to the point of the absurd.– I really don’t think so, at least in my opinion. I remember the original Dream Team in ’92. Everyone was fanatical about them. Only recently has there been a disdain for US Basketball. It is because many of them (not all) are rich, spoiled “me, me, me” players and it shows.
    …and LeBron, D. Wade and Duncan aren’t thought of as thugs by anyone that I know. If the US team were all comprised of players with their caliber, both personally and athletically, the US would be a fan favorite! Don’t forget, Iverson was the captain of the team.
    As for US soccer, many more than you think weren’t all that choked up about them losing… I know I was happy to see Ghana win, but I’m not saying I was happy to see the US lose. I just appreciated the fact that it meant more to Ghana. I don’t think the US team themselves really cared much about the WC this time.
    So back to the original topic of KW2 vs BR. I think Bo pointed out a very important viewpoint in his BSN piece. Jay Williams wasn’t treated the same way as Winslow was, but rather like Ben Roethlisberger was. Don’t you think if Bill Romanowski or John Rocker had a serious motorcycle accident, people (even whites) wouldn’t feel the same way that people did towards Winslow? I think they would. It all boils down to this, Winslow is, well… an asshole. I mean, do you remember his response to when he blew out an opposing team member’s knee? No remorse… None. Karma is a BITCH! For the record, I hope karma catches up to Bill R and J Rocker too.
    Also, there’s a tremendous fanaticism for Mike Vick, but not Marcus Vick. It’s all in personal integrity.
    Finally, I know there are racists out there who root against players solely on that reason. I certainly am not denying that. But they aren’t the majority. And that’s all I’m saying.

  11. This is from eauhellzgnaw. I accidentally deleted it.
    These same sportswriters did, in fact, love the Dream Team, despite the fact that it was comprised of millionaire professionals and had Barkley on the team–he was a fantastic player who gave his all, but he was not exactly the greatest sporstman (remember the Angola elbow?), and off the court, he was throwin cats through windows like it was a new bar game. Three things set them apart:
    1.) The novelty of using professional NBA players in 1992.
    2.) 1/3rd of the team was white. It doesn’t matter how “articulate” david Robinson and MJ were, no black athlete can ever be the “all-American guy” with all its moral connotations. They needed white players for marketing purposes (granted, all of them, save Laetner deserved to be there, but still).
    3.) While these things tend to go in cycles, I think the mid 90s was a watershed period for the perception of black athletes in the NFL, NBA, and MLB. While the NBA had similar image problems in the years pre Magic-Bird, the black stars of the 80s and 90s were elevated and the racial stuff was localized and harnessed to great effect (Bird vs. Magic/MJ). Something shifted in the 90s, though. Perhaps it was a combination of ballooning contracts (and the entitlement issues they bring), widespread early-entry or skipping college altogether (leading to younger stars), the mainstream popularity of rap (which these dolts blame for everything negative associated with young black people), and the decrease of American white men from the league. All of this stuff has led to serious hostility toward young black male athletes generally since the mid 90s (it pervades our larger culture as well). The Dream Team came just before this period. And remember, people hated Dream Teams 2 and 3 even before they started talking trash and posing. Again, I think this is not strictly a matter of race; there’s also class and age and gender and a host of other things.
    As for the latest Olympic Team, nobody with sense thinks these players are “thugs.” The problem is, black folks often don’t have the luxury of being individuals. So, if AI and Melo (sorta) had legal issues, then “all of them are spoiled criminals.” This wasn’t just anonymous fark-type internet stuff. I actually had these conversations with people or overheard them.
    I can understand being frustrated with a lousy, underachieving team, but the US had plenty of those. Why was this one different? Furthermore, no one focused on the fact that over half of these guys were 2nd tier players who accepted the invite when the top players (Shaq, Kobe, KG, Kidd–then, etc. were either injured or declined to play). Instead of being praised for agreeing to represent their country despite possible terrorist threats, they were villified. And folks generally heaped everything on the players, ignoring Larry Brown’s abysmal coaching job. Some mentioned it, but not nearly enough.
    I actually rooted against the US team, but that isn’t unusual for me–I’m not a nationalist. Flag wavers, on the other hand? They got some ‘splainin to do.
    And Rex, I agree that “racists… who root against players solely on that reason…aren’t the majority.” But what I’m saying is that people don’t have to be racist to let racial identity influence the appeal of players. People do it with nationality, gender, region, so it isn’t surprising that they do it with race. The only thing that bothers me is this high-and-mighty colorblindness shit (though these same people who deny white identification plays a role in fandom will openly praise the novelty blackness of Tiger, the Williams sisters, and rarely black QBs for the effect on black kids). I would just like for those who do it to accept it, admit it, and move on.
    I do think, though, that the 2004 US Basketball team was the perfect shitstorm in which all of these tensions came to a head. The poor play intensified the antagonism, and groupthink did the rest.

  12. Laetner… I’m still scratching my head on that one (how he was included)… And, I put him in the “thug” class. I remember “the stomp.”
    Well, good discussion. I certainly can see your points and where you’re coming from. It’s good to understand viewpoints from others with different perspectives. (haha, anyone remember the Tim Meadows’ SNL skit “Perspectives?”)
    On a side note, I fully agreed with the decision to fill the US BBall team with NBA players. I mean, we can’t even win with ’em. I never understood sending college guys to lose. If the rest of the world sends their best, shouldn’t we? The Dream Team was a good idea while it lasted, until the rest of the world caught up. Aren’t they now practicing for the 2008 Olympics? I heard Dwyane Wade on Letterman the other night talking about going to camp this summer to practice for the Olympics. Hey, we might have a chance if we actually develop a “team.”

  13. If all teachers were this hot...

    You? Teaching? That’s justice for that ass! Hope you have as much fun as I’m having…now that I’ve moved out of the Acres!

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