Vogue’n

March 27, 2008

vogue.jpg 

So last week, LeBron James appeared with Gisele on the cover of the latest edition of Vogue Magazine. Smart move for Bron Bron, who has said numerous times he wants to be a a “global icon” To do that he must, from time to time, go against the grain so to speak and increase his cross over appeal. And by appearing on covers like Vogue and others, it’s a step.

But in the midst of it all, a firestorm was brewing. Some folk were appalled and disturbed at the cover. Not because he was on Vogue, nor because he was with “Tom Brady’s girl” It was the because of they way in which James was portrayed in the image. To many, it was racially insensitive. You know, the big black mandigo coming to the rescue of the blonde white woman. The image of dominance. King Kong grabbing the white woman.

While some didn’t think it was such a big deal and shook their heads and the talk of racist imagery, others couldn’t look past the picture in which they feel Bron Bron was painted. Jemele says “Too often, black athletes are presented as angry, overly aggressive and overly sexual. Or sometimes, they’re just plain emasculated.”Hill suggests while the media is partly to blame, athletes like James need to step up and say “No” to issues that can be controversial, no matter how much they’re getting paid.

The issue is that athletes in today’s age really don’t have a sense of history and how these images in the past were seen as racial. And I really can’t blames them. I’m in my 20s and some of the things older black folk get in an uproar about and it just doesn’t hit home with me as much.

So I found it interesting the differences of opinions on this. I curious to see/hear what others think.


March Madness!

March 20, 2008

bigjohn.jpg

So, tomorrow begins the greatest four-week stretch in sports — the NCAA tournament. And, like many of you, I will be a complete slacker at work as I monitor the different games and proceed to rip up my bracket after the first weekend.

In my opinion, this year’s field is one of the most open in recent memory. I can picture any of 10-12 teams that wouldn’t surprise me if they won the National Championship in San Antonio. But nonetheless, we all have to make our predicitions and here are mine:

Final Four

UNC over Georgetown

Texas over UCLA

Championship

UNC 82, Texas 69

Feel free to rip me


They don’t want a bunch of thugs in Oklahoma City

March 18, 2008

kevin_durant_0628.jpg 

 The young man you see above is Kevin Durant.

From the picture alone, he seems like a clean cut, young man. After all, he’s still a teenager.

Durant made a name for himself last year at the University of Texas were he was a freshman sensation for the Longhorns, winning National Player of the Year honors.

 As a result, he was selected No. 2 overall in last year’s NBA Draft by the Seattle SuperSonics.

That is a short summary of Kevin Durant — exactly the type of young man the fine folks in Oklahoma City don’t want invading their precious community.

Darnell Marberry, fellow HBCU grad and NBA Insider from the Oklahoman, had an interesting piece in response to last week’s vote that downed the idea of the public paying for improvements to the Ford Center.

In Mayberry’s reported, he came up several instances in which local residents were not keen on the NBA coming because it would, among other things, drag down the city and increase crime. Citizens on local talk shows and message boards claimed the NBA has an image problems with a bunch of fatherless children and hoodlums.

To rehash, the New Orleans Hornets spent two great seasons in OKC in wake of Hurricane Katrina and it appears now, the Sonics are on their way there in a couple of years. But if this is who my fan base potentially will be, I’m looking elsewhere.

I’m not going to dispute the fact that the NBA has some image problems, but too often we see the misinformed make ignorant statements characterizing an entire league based on a few incidents. If the Sonics do move to OKC, I’m not Jeff Green won’t pose a threat. Nick Collison and Luke Ridenour probably won’t be rollin’ through the streets of Oklahoma City 20 deep. Who knows.

But it’s statements like this that shows we have a long way to go.


Mike Freeman’s not feeling “Psycho T”

March 14, 2008

tyler.jpg 

Well, at least not the media slurping of him.

In a recent column, CBSSports.com’s Mike Freeman questions and essentially calls out members of the media for the anointing of  UNC star Tyler Hansbrough as the face of college basketball.

Freeman calls into question some media members — Dick Vitale — who often characterize Hansbrough as the “toughest guy in college basketball” and one who plays “with more desire than any player in the history of college basketball.”

 To his credit, Hansbrough is an outstanding college player. Recently named Sporting News player of the year, the junior is consider not only the best player on the No. 1-ranked team in the country, but along with Michael Beasley, is considered the top player in his country.

Notice the emphasis on “college” While I’ve watched my share of UNC games this season, I think Hansbrough is great in the college game and that’s were it will end. At about 6-8 or so, the things he does in the college game will be null and void in the NBA.

Here’s where I agree with Freeman. To take Hansbrough’s toughness and hustle — all of which he does — and elevate him to the toughest player in college basketball is ridiculous. There are 300-plus Division I basketball programs in the country and I’m sure each and every player plays with “desire” and “passion” just like Hansbrough.

So why the lovefest?  Is it a racial issue? Freeman thinks so.

From the column:

“I thought the media hadn’t gotten beyond the “black guy-talented, white-guy-tough” silliness, but the coverage around Hanbrough demonstrates maybe we haven’t.”

I can’t speak for Freeman, but the issue is not Hansbrough, it’s the constant slurping we see of the white athletes from the media. I agree with the quote above. Not that it never happens, but more often black athletes are characterized as athletic and cocky as opposed to smart and tough.

It’s one of those stereotypes that is not specific to a certain sport. You hear it too often and hope one day it changes.


Candidate joins ESPN

March 11, 2008

canidate.jpg

For all the criticism ESPN garners, whether deserving or not, one of their biggest accomplishments is maintaining a level of diversity. From ESPN.com to their many television entities, theirs is always adequate representation of different race, age and gender. Because of this tWWL provides different “voices” to its fans and accurately reflects the many fans who come to the site, listen to their programming and watch their shows.

But for all the good stuff, I still felt they needed more black female anchors in-studio in Bristol. While Lisa Salters is a recognizable face at various events, prior to last year, there were no black females on any of the network’s flagship shows. It is well-documented that current GMA anchor Robin Roberts was the first black anchor ESPN hired and over the course of her time at ESPN/ABC, she has set the standard for black female sports anchors.

Last year, ESPN hired Sage Steele and since then, Steele has become a familiar on “First Take”, which airs every morning on ESPN2.  While no Roberts, Steele is solid at her job and, in my opinion, is quite fashionable as well.

The newest black female on-air talent at ESPN is Reischea (REE-SHAY) Candidate (pictured). Maybe it’s because I don’t watch ESPNEWS that often, but today was the first time I’d seen her on air. Apparently, she’s been in Bristol for about a month or so. Candidate didn’t have to come far as she was most recently a sports anchor/reporter for WNYW FOX in New York.

It’s good to see ESPN making moves to hire a diverse team, including young, attractive black women. I wish Candidate the best and I hope she does well.

As as, you know, she doesn’t follow in the footsteps of the last black female anchor at ESPNEWS.

**Update: A reader points out that ESPNEWS anchor Cindy Brunson is also a talented minority female anchor. She completely slipped my mind. 


Congrats to Whitlock

March 7, 2008

America’s favorite sports columnist — FOXSports.com and Kansas City Star’s Jason Whitlock received a National Award for commentary given by the Scripps Howard Foundation.

According to a press release:

Whitlock receives $10,000 and a trophy for his ability to seamlessly integrate sports commentary with social commentary and to challenge widely held assumptions along the racial divide.

 Congrats.


Does Favre remind you of ‘you’?

March 7, 2008

favre.jpg 

Like most of you, I’ve been drained by all this Brett Favre retirement coverage over the last couple of days.

To be clear, I respect Favre and think he’s had a great career, but the coverage (while very thorough) seemed over the top and was as if the man had died.

I’ve overheard and been in discussions with people as to why Favre warrented such coverage/attention. The consensus was that aside from his on the field accolade, fans and the media loved Favre because he was “everyman” He reminded the averaged fan/viewer of his or herself. From the way he “played like a kid” to his t-shirt and jean press conferences. He appeared to be a guy who you could see yourself having a drink with.

So the “He was one of us” theme was prevalent over the last couple of days, which kind of baffled me to an extent because Brett Favre doesn’t remind me of me.

This made me think and bring up another question. When’s the last time or when will there ever be a minority athlete who receives this treatment, because Warren Sapp certainly didn’t.

The first name that came to mind was MJ. Sure his first retirement was somewhat ceremonial but that so much of a surprise, people didn’t want to believe it. And his second retirement was uneventful.  In the NFL, Emmitt Smith when out quietly and we all are seeing what’s happening to Barry Bonds.

Methinks we probably won’t see this again — at least until Peyton Manning and/or Tom Brady retires.