All Articles Tagged "top black athletes"
Tiger Woods should feel extremely blessed. What other athlete could lose several sponsors after a very public sexual scandal, have a near 20 month winless streak on the golf course, and have their annual earnings plummet $50 million over the past two years, yet still be ranked as the highest paid athlete in the world? Yup, it’s true, according to Forbes’ list of the world’s highest paid athletes. Athlete’s earning figures were derived from salaries, bonuses, prize money, appearance fees, licensing and endorsement income in the 12 months ending May 1st. Out of the list of 50, 17 black athletes made the cut for being some of the highest paid in their respective sport. Do any of these ranked surprise you?
by R. Asmerom
As much as we appreciate the strides that have been made since the Civil Rights movement in terms of racial equality, there are a few realities that remind us that equality is still a goal. The discrepancy between the number of athletes on the field and the number of Blacks in front office positions is a grand example of how covert discrimination plays out in many corporate environments. Are there seriously not enough Blacks interested in the business end of sports?
This is just one of the points that Dr. Thabiti Lewis, a professor at Washington State University in Vancouver, examines in his book “Ballers of The New School: Race and Sports in America.”
“On one hand, we say wow, it’s a different age. There’s been quite a bit of progress,” said Lewis. “It’s post Jim Crow, post Civil Rights and yet, I think in some ways, the handcuffs are a little tighter than they were before,” he said of the Black athletes today who seem to hold a lot of power but barely use it when it comes to speaking out on sensitive issues.
These athletes are what Lewis calls the “new ballers,” who stand for a far different set of principles than the “old ballers” like Kareem Abdul Jabbar, Jack Johnson and Muhammad Ali. Those athletes took an active political role as popular figures. They sacrificed their careers for their causes; a fact that contrasts sharply with what Lewis deems as the apathy that permeates today’s sports culture. Players are more associated with the lavish lifestyles that they lead rather than the causes that they push. It’s indicative of an age when more Blacks do have access to wealth and power, but have less concern for the plight of African-American advancement.
Lewis said that he wrote the book to illuminate the courage and bravery of the “old ballers” he admires. “I’m trying to show people a generation of integrity, of a certain political consciousness, of a real certain focus and direction,” he said. Oftentimes, the efforts of the old ballers came at the cost of their careers. “What people forgot were that [the old ballers] were maligned, they were hated, they were seen as being too out of the pocket.”
He recalls a more recent time when Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf, a third-pick in the 1990 draft and a key player for the Denver Nuggets until 1995, expressed his political beliefs by refusing to stand for the national anthem. He justified his action by saying that the flag was a symbol of oppression, connected to the country’s racist history. Abdul-Rauf was ridiculed for his decision by NBA fans and was consequently traded away from the Nuggets to play for the Sacramento Kings despite his stellar performance. Eventually, he went overseas to continue his basketball career. “It was symbolic,” said Lewis. “If you aren’t going to be patriotic, then ‘we’ll give you what you want and you’ll be out of America.’ According to Lewis, those that do not follow protocol are maligned by the media and the public.
Today, there are very few, if any, instances of an athlete being criticized for his political activism but Lewis contends that they are being maligned nevertheless, by the media. The narratives around sports players are being produced by a predominantly white reporting staff according to Lewis. “88 percent of sports writers and 95 percent of sports editors are white males, “ he said. “There is a narrative that is being constructed, being glinted in one direction.”
(Essence.com) — There has been so much going on in the sports world lately. With last night’s ESPY Awards, Serena winning top spot at Wimbledon, Kobe winning another NBA championship ring, LeBron’s migration to Miami Heat to join fellow superstars Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh, the World Cup, and the MLB All Star Games, it seems like everywhere we turn athletes are the main attraction.