All Articles Tagged "Black athletes"
The 2012 Summer Olympics in London are set to begin this week and many talented African Americans will be representing the United States during the games. Just being chosen to be an Olympian is an honor in and of itself, but it’s especially a moment of honor to have so many blacks carry on the legacy of legendary Olympians like Florence Griffith-Joyner, gymnast Dominique Dawes and the 1992 basketball team, aka, the Dream Team, which consisted of Hall-of-Famers like Michael Jordan, Charles Barkley, Magic Johnson and more. Here are some of the athletes who will be carrying the torch in London and hopefully bringing home the gold.
The 16-year-old gymnastic powerhouse earned first place at the Olympic trials and is the 2012 U.S. uneven bars champion, the all-around silver medalist and a bronze medalist in floor exercise. Affectionately known as Gabby, she just told E! News that she wanted Gabrielle Union to play her in the movie of her life. Douglas is the one of the main stars of the summer games, and that was made clear by the fact that she just graced one of the covers of TIME magazine (for the week of July 30) and on Sports Illustrated for a preview of the games.
At any given time, looking at the sea of pro athletes on the basketball court or football field is almost reminiscent of an NAACP convention. Black faces are everywhere and there’s just a sprinkling of other races as if these were the select few who got a pass to attend the event. African Americans’ dominance in the world of sports cannot be denied, which is why it’s surprising that when Forbes made its list of the 10 most influential athletes, none of them were black. Not a single one.
I’m no sports fanatic or expert. I’m barely even a spectator, so I’m sure many of you can school me on the merits of the men who actually did make the list, which encompasses all pro sports. There’s Jimmie Johnson and Dale Earnheart Jr. (Nascar), Manny Pacquiao (Boxing), Jeremy Lin (Linsanity), and then a bunch of NFL players: Drew Brees, Tim Tebow (Tebowing), Peyton and Eli Manning, Tom Brady, and Aaron Rodgers. Athletic ignorance aside, I know that basketball and football are two of the biggest sports in America. I know that black men dominate both of those sports. And I know that if we’re talking about pop culture influence—as this list seems to be—then there surely had to be a place for some negroes. But thinking about the areas where black athletes tend to have influence, I have to wonder, is something wrong with the list or is something wrong with us?
Forbes worked with Nielsen and E-poll to create this list and says over 1,100 adults were surveyed about dozens of well-known athletes to “measure their likeability and whether they’re considered ‘influential,’ an important quality for marketers.” Something as subjective as influence is pretty difficult to define and there’s no mention of who the dozen athletes they used for the survey actually were. On The Grio, Stefen Lovelace argues that pretty much no matter who was surveyed there are three black names that should have shown up on this list: Kobe, Lebron (who did make the list last year), and Tiger Woods. I know Tiger’s in the midst of a comeback, but it may be too soon to start reissuing any sort of influence to him, but the other two players, I couldn’t agree more. Lake show and three kings anybody?
Truthfully, there should be more than three other names being tossed in this discussion of worthy black influencers anyway. This situation makes me think of all the other industries where we talk about needing to have more of us, and in a place where there are plenty of us, we’re still not considered highly marketable or influential by a sampling of the American public? Perhaps some of us are spending too much time focusing on distractors that black pro athletes have become stereotypically known for rather than building our brands. We need to do more than be seen in the game we need to have some influence over it and over the audiences whose attention we’re captivating. I never say it’s an athlete’s job to be a role model but it is important that we’re doing more than entertaining, we need to be influencing.
At the end of the day, a random Forbes list doesn’t hold much weight in the grand scheme of things, especially when no women are on the list, despite this not being a male poll, nor any baseball players—isn’t that still America’s favorite past time? But what this list does possibly provide is a little insight on how strength in numbers doesn’t mean you’re influencing anything. This list could also show Americans’ reluctance to recognize that influence or even downplay it in favor of their own needle in a haystack selection of white pros who dominate in these sports. Lord knows white men have been mad they can’t jump long before Ron Shelton told them they couldn’t. But at the end of the day, those are the men determining the plays while we run them. It’s definitely time to flip the script.
What do you think about this list of influential athletes? Did Forbes miss the mark or did we?
Brande Victorian is a blogger and culture writer in New York City. Follower her on Twitter at @be_vic.
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Have you ever been in the heat of a situation? Been at work where you have a deadline to meet, where a coworker is getting on your last nerve? Or have you been on the phone with the telephone company, who transfers your query call from country to country,until you just reach the point that you snap and let someone have it?
No needs in lying or attempting to play the sanctified, Mother Teresa role because I know we all have been there. It’s okay, it happens to the best of us. Sometimes all the meditation, happy thoughts and Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo chanting in the world can’t stop the sudden release of raw emotion. Matter of fact, I went off on an employee of a hardware store recently, who tried to ignore me when I kept asking for his assistance. I yelled, “look here, got dammit, ya’ll got me in here waiting like I’m a damn waiter.” It didn’t make sense but it was effective. And it ain’t right to verbally abuse people but sometimes in the heat of the moment, you just have to turn into the mad rapper and tell ‘em why you mad, son.
Which is why I wasn’t too mad at Serena Williams, who recently “went off” at an umpire during her most recent U.S Open tournament. After losing the first set to Sam Stosur, Williams, who said that she was in the zone, yelled out, “come on!” before Stosur hit the ball. This act apparently violated a little known “point hindrance” rule in tennis, where you are not suppose to do anything that might distract the other player on their return. The umpire, who made the call, deducted a point from Williams, which gave Stosur the first game. And that’s when all hell broke loose. In an act of sheer emotion, Williams let the umpire have it with such statements as: “You’re out of control,” “You’re a hater, and you’re just unattractive inside” and “Really, don’t even look at me.” Williams was fined $2000 for her outburst. Also, she lost the game.
Yawn. Besides being one of the most awkward curse-out moments in history (“You are unattractive on the inside” -seriously what was that?) frankly, William’s outburst wasn’t that bad. Before I saw the video of the incident, which has sent shockwaves around the web, I had expected some truly vulgar language unbecoming of a superstar athlete, only to discover that what she said was safe enough to say in front of my grandmother, without being embarrassed. I heard better put-downs from Ned Flanders on The Simpsons. Call me when she really “goes off” McEnroe-style.
Of course, this isn’t the first time Williams went semi-H.A.M on an ump at one of her matches. At the 2009 Open, she was fined $82,500 and put on probation for threatening to shove a ball down the throat of a referee who kept giving her poor calls including a minor foot fault, which some argue should have been called in the first place. And as such, some folks – mainly Fox News and company – see this, as well as the other incidences, of Williams’ apparent sense of entitlement, even going as far as to suggest that her rant had some racial undertones, particularly the hater part.
And then there are others, particularly from the Afro-sphere, who wonder if her outburst has helped to reinforce stereotypes of the angry black woman. For one, tennis has a long history of whiney crybabies throwing temper tantrums. And yes the media tends to overblow things related to black people, especially regarding anger, because who isn’t scared of an angry Black person right?
by Mark Anthony Neal
Deron Williams’ recent announcement that he was planning to play abroad during the NBA lockout with the possibility that many other NBA stars are also considering doing so, highlights the successful globalization of the NBA; it is one of the world’s most recognizable brands. But as David J. Leonard recently suggested, “Whereas the NBA hoped to cultivate and capitalize on stars from China, Germany, France, Brazil and elsewhere,” and market them to global fans, “it has been African American stars that have captured the hearts and minds of many global fans.” Leonard notes, the NBA’s desire for expansion has unwittingly given the leagues’ players—80% of whom are of African-descent—bargaining leverage in the midst of an owners’ lock-out.
NBA players have long been in a unique position; with regards to the NBA. the players exist as both the labor and the product, and despite the escalation of players’ salaries in comparison to a generation ago, their labors have primarily increased the coffers of the league’s owners. In contrast to their capacity to generate wealth for the owners and commissioner David Stern (whose job is to advocate on behalf of the owners), the players themselves have very little input in the basic affairs of the league (i.e. salary-caps, dress codes, minimum age limits, etc).
Given their role as the NBA’s primary commodity, the question is not whether NBA players should play in Europe or elsewhere during the lockout, but whether the players should think about creating a professional league of their own that would maximize their labor, economic value and provide a legitimate alternative to the NBA. If the players were to look for a model, there is no better one than the Negro Baseball League.
When Moses Fleetwood was released by the Syracuse baseball team in 1889, he became a historic footnote: the last African-American to play in Major League Baseball until Jackie Robinson broke through the so-called “color line” in the spring of 1947. Fleetwood and many Black players until Robinson were subject to an unspoken decision by a cabal of Major League owners and players to ban Black players from the league. In effect the owners locked-out some of the best American baseball players of the early 20th century.
(USA Today) — New York Yankees outfielder Curtis Granderson isn’t telling Major League Baseball anything it doesn’t already know. Baseball appears to lack appeal and access to some blacks, whether they are participants or fans. And Granderson wasn’t necessarily trying to stir the pot when he told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram: “Count the number of African-American fans.” On a recent trip to Texas, Granderson said it was difficult to push the count to double digits. ”At first, it starts off as a joke (with teammates),” Granderson said. “As the game moves on, you’ll get to 10, or maybe 15. Depends on where you are, too. Places like Chicago or New York, other places it’s easy. (In Texas), it’s hard. So after a while it becomes, ‘Told you so.’ ”
(The Grio) — The calls came as soon as Shaquille O’Neal decided to retire, all wanting to hire one of theNBA’s greatest entertainers. TNT’s “Inside the NBA” studio show had been O’Neal’s favorite as a player, so the choice was easy. Get ready for the Big Analyzer, Big Commentator, or whatever other nickname he takes in the next phase of his career. O’Neal agreed Thursday to a multiyear deal with Turner Sports to become an analyst on itsNBA coverage, where he will fold his 7-foot-1 frame into the fourth chair on the TNT set alongside Charles Barkley, Kenny Smith and Ernie Johnson.
(ESPN) — Former Dallas Cowboys great Michael Irvin appears shirtless on the cover of this month’s gay men’s magazine Out and discusses his passion for equality issues. Irvin publicly acknowledges that the impetus for taking a stand comes from his relationship with his gay brother, Vaughn, who died of stomach cancer at age 49 in 2006. Irvin had not spoken publicly about his brother previously, according to the magazine. In the article, Irvin describes how his brother’s sexual orientation contributed to his own issues. He says that he found out his brother was gay in the late 1970s, when he found Vaughn wearing women’s clothing. Michael Irvin was rattled by the experience and has figured out since that it contributed to his own womanizing behavior. Working with a Dallas area bishop, T.D. Jakes, Irvin looked at the past.
(Philadelphia Inquirer) — The Michael Vick comeback story has come full circle. Nearly four years after he was dumped by Nike, the Eagles quarterback was re-signed for promotional services by the worldwide leader in sports sneakers and apparel, according to the company. ”We have re-signed Michael Vick as a Nike athlete,” spokesman Derek Kent said Friday. “Michael acknowledges his past mistakes. We do not condone those actions, but we support the positive changes he has made to better himself off the field.” The deal, the exact details of which are unknown, is believed to be the first for a major athlete who was dropped by an endorser only to be re-signed later. Vick did not respond to a text message seeking comment, but he released a statement.
(Kiss My Black Ads) — Entertainment Studios, the company owned by Byron Allen, has announced that is will launch a new high-definition channel early next year with programming intended for an African-American audience. Legacy TV, which has not yet made a deal with a TV or satellite provider for carriage, is expected to offer programs on black history and biographies of African-American leaders.
(ESPN) — He has been a giant since the day he entered this world 64 years ago. Thirteen pounds and 22 inches at birth. Six-foot-8 by the time he was in eighth grade. A legend on both coasts before he ever played a game for John Wooden or caught a pass from Magic Johnson. His size and his stature became as much a part of his identity as the game he played so well and the city he always stayed so near to. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has always been a giant of a man. Until now. Until this silly, sad episode over statues and hurt feelings that has left him standing only two feet tall. In the past 48 hours, Abdul-Jabbar has revealed a lifetime of insecurities and fractured, perhaps forever, a lifelong relationship with the Lakers. While his tantrum may have begun innocently, because a reporter simply asked him why the Lakers hadn’t yet honored him with a statue outside Staples Center, his tone grew angrier and more bizarre by the hour.