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Saturday, January 27, 2007

Sports and Race QUESTIONS

Unrelated forward-
Note to Tom the Dog: Now that you are a game show maven, perhaps you can be a source of pithy quotes on other cultural matters. For instance, an Albany-area woman made it onto the next round of American Idol - a show I'm not currently watching, BTW - but had to keep it a secret for a few months, until the program aired this week. Hey, let's find other folks who've had similar experiences, like that guy who was on JEOPARDY! eight years ago! Voila!
1. Here's an excerpt from Boss Talk: 'Welcome to My World'; NBA Commissioner Stern Gets Kudos for Expansion But Has Share of Problems
Russell Adams and Adam Thompson. Wall Street Journal. (Eastern edition). New York, N.Y.: Jan 17, 2007. pg. B.1
WSJ: It's often been said that when brawls break out on the court in the NBA, everybody makes a big deal out of it, even though other sports frequently have fights among players. Why?

Mr. Stern: My own take is the burden of the fans being so close to the stands. Because of the spectacular view of our game from courtside -- which is the closest to the action of any game, and it's replicated by a camera, and increasingly by high-def, the prospect of players, in any shape or form, crossing the barrier between them and the fans -- that's a problem that we have and no one else has.

WSJ: Do you believe it also might have something to do with racial attitudes in this country, that the NBA is judged more harshly for that reason?

Mr. Stern: Well, I choose not to dwell on it, but you may be on to something. We were the first sport to be identified as black. And, despite the fact that the starters in other sports like football could be equally, percentage-wise, black, our guys are [visible] out there. We can see them, they don't come encumbered by hat, helmet, long sleeves and pants. You just touched on the global conversation, which is the role of race, and certainly, I would not be fully honest if I didn't say it's always there, in some shape or form.

Yes, the NBA is 80% black. But the NFL is about 70% black. Is race a factor in perceptions of NBA players, or is it the proximity to the stands, the fact that, unlike football players, they don't wear helmets, and that changes the dynamic?

2. Much has been written about the two head coaches in the Super Bowl being black. What's your reaction? This is my take on firsts in everything: Firsts are important when they get us to the point where it doesn't matter anymore. Doug Williams, the first black Super Bowl quarterback was important, but I couldn't tell you the second or third. Jackie Robinson and Larry Doby were important, but one doesn't make note of every black baseball player, as Ebony magazine did in the 1950s and 1960s; interestingly, black baseball players at the major league level is declining.

Once upon a time, I could tell you the name of every female U.S. Senator, but now there are 16, and I can't; it's not enough, but it's a start. However, I can name all of the black members of the U.S. Senate since Reconstruction, since there have been only three: Brooke, Moseley-Braun, and Obama.

Progress is measured when you stop having to measure.

Unrelated postlude;

From May 4, 2004 WSJ

A Better PDB?

Jessica Mintz writes in the Wall Street Journal:

"The presidential daily brief titled 'Bin Ladin Determined to Strike in US' triggered a political firestorm. But for Greg Storey, what was most striking about the document was its lack of style.
"'Why is it that the president puts up with these horribly written and laid out documents to assess the threat against our nation?' wondered Mr. Storey, a 33-year old Web designer.
"So he set out to do something about it."

Here's Storey's blog item explaining what he did and why.


Scott said...

I think the NBA's problem is the people that play the game. Even if there are crass players in the NFL (Terrell Owens to name one) there is an intelligence to the game which in turn is draped on the players, too. There is a common feeling that a lot of NBA players (including whites) are thugs. So to me, it's not an issue of race. Unfortunately is becomes more an issue of where they are coming from, which is usually growing up in commutities that have a lot of poverty.

As for question number two, in some ways I see it as a bid deal because it's two black head coaches in the Super Bowl. But I have been sort of a fan of Dungy and the Colts, so as for his side of it, it's more of a "he finally made it" type deal. I think in some ways a lot of fans don't see him as a black head coach, but just a head coach.

One interesting thing of note, the CEO of the NAACP was nicely surprised when the Steelers hired Tomlin as head coach. Like me, he didn't realize he was black. If you hadn't seen a picture of him with the headlines and the first paragraph of an article, you would have never known. He liked the idea that it didn't make headlines because he was black.

Anonymous said...

"Had to," huh?? You smooth fellow, you. ;->

Hope you are well. Life here goes on... say a quick prayer for my church, ok? We need it.


Anonymous said...

Well, the things you learn about a person...Jeopardy! Amazing, congratulations. I can certainly imagine you on there. Sorry I missed it. I was out of my Jeopardy phase by '98. Had moved on to be an X-files junkie or something like that.



Anonymous said...

Great quotes in the paper -- and good luck to Lydia with the operation next week! Where does she go to day care?