All Articles Tagged "Jeremy Lin"
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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