BHM: Jemele Hill

February 26, 2008

jemele.jpg

 In honor of Black History Month, we’ll set aside space to honor some of the pioneers who paved the way for minorities in sports media. Obviously, we can’t get to everyone, so if we leave someone out, please understand.

Usually, when you think of those making “history” you think of older people or those who have even passed away. However, there are certain instances when history is taking place right before our eyes and that’s exactly what Jemele Hill is doing.

Hill is a regular columnist on ESPN.com’s Page 2 and can often be seen on the network’s shows such as First Take and Jim Rome is Burning. Prior to joining ESPN, Hill was a columnist at the Orlando Sentinel. During that time, she was the only black female sports columnist in the nation — and we’re talking some 300-plus newspapers. It is/was that fact only that’s historic.

Often accused of playing the race card, Hill gives readers a unique perspective that generates dialogue, which is one of the main objectives of any columnist. In a white male driven industry, being able to stand her ground and write about issues that would otherwise be avoided sets her apart from writers male or female, black or white.

On the television side, when Hill is one of the few women of color you see on the sports side. I often find in interesting that not many young black females are into sports journalism, especially on the print side. It’s rare, which makes Hill’s accomplishments that much more respectable. Maybe if young girls look at what she’s done, it will change perceptions and stereotypes about the business.

Advertisements

BHM: Ralph Wiley

February 15, 2008

ralph_wiley.jpg

 In honor of Black History Month, we’ll set aside space to honor some of the pioneers who paved the way for minorities in sports media. Obviously, we can’t get to everyone, so if we leave someone out, please understand.

Over the years, there have been a number of writers who’ve had that strong, unique voice that’s stood out from their colleagues. However, few have had that “umph” in print that the late Ralph Wiley had.

Wiley, who rose to fame at Sports Illustrated and later at Page 2, was known for the “unique perspective” who brought in each column, essay and appearances on The Sports Reporters and SportsCenter.

When he wasn’t penning one of his memorable columns, like this one on black history, he was writing books and essays including Why Black People Tend to Shout and By Any Means Necessary: The Trials and Tribulations of Making Malcom X. This was part of what made Wiley great — the ability to straddle the fence between sports journalism and “hard” literally writing and not miss a beat, or the “Wiley voice”

Unfortunately, Wiley died in 2004 of a heart attack while watching the NBA Finals. He left too soon. Left so many columns unwritten. But what he did leave was a blueprint of what a columnist should be. One who covers a broad range of issues, each from a unique perspective and always receive strong feedback, whether positive or negative.

He not only had an impact on those who read him religiously, but others in the media, black and white, respected him, as evident in a tribute Page 2 did after his passing.

Ralph Wiley showed us how it’s supposed to be done. There will never be another like him.


“Black Thanksgiving” is almost here!

February 13, 2008

allstar.jpg

On tomorrow, thousands will begin their descent on Nawlens (New Orleans) for the 2008 All-Star weekend, an event WP columnist Mike Wilbon so eloquently coined  “Black Thanksgiving.”  and what Page 2’s Bill Simmons called “Hip hop Woodstock.” If you remember, it was only a year ago that the game was held in Las Vegas and, depending on who you talk to, was either a huge success or complete disaster. While it brought in nearly $100 million in revenue, there were over 400 arrests. Most notably, it was the beginning of the end for Pacman Jones as he “made it rain” all the way out of the NFL.

There’s no doubt the NBA is a “black” league so-to speak. The majority of its players are African-American and many of the fans are as well. Recently, All-Star weekend has been a destination of choice for young black folks. It has surpassed Memorial Day and the 4th of July. The hip-hop community comes out in masses and can be seen at events and sitting courtside for the actual game. But the fact remains, the money and influence still comes from white fans and that’s evident from the front office to the majority of fans in the stands. So, to some, the NBA’s image is again on shaky ground.

The always controversial Kansas City Star and FoxSports columnist Jason Whitlock compared attending All-Star weekend in Vegas to walking the grounds of a maximum security prison. Of course, he received intense criticism from critics who believed he was a “sellout” and over exaggerated things.

 Look, whenever a large group of people get together, black or white, there will be issues. The reality is though, because of the spotlight and amount of money involved, the NBA All-Star weekend will be heavily scrutinized by those in the media and in public opinion. Can things be changed to make the event safer and run smoother? Of course. But there has to be some personal accountability on those who attend to behave properly.

 Some have suggested having All-Star weekendin New Orleans is disaster waiting to happen. While the N.O. is still struggling post-Katrina, if there’s one city that can handle a big event it’s the Crescent City. 

I’ll reserve my judgement until after this weekend. Until then, if you’re heading to the ‘Nolia, have a ball!


Jordan still leading the way

February 12, 2008

jumpman.jpg

CNBC’s Darren Rovell has an intersting nugget in his awesome SportsBiz blog. He looks at how successful Michael Jordan still remains in the shoe business, despite being out of the NBA (playing at least) for nearly five years. In 2007, 40 of the top 50 basketball shoes were Jordan styles and overall, the Jordan brand is an $800 million brand.

To some this is surprising, but it shouldn’t be. Until recently, when I started having to pay my own bills and understood better the power of the dollar, I had every pair of Jordans. I had to. I wanted to jump higher, run faster and be cool.  Having Jordans was a status symbol. So, even though his playing days are over, the Jordan effect still resonates throughout basketball circles and on streets.

As long as Jordan is interested, he will have success in the shoe business. They are, as Page 2’s Todd Boyd says, the holy grail of basketball shoes.


LZ on Craig Hodges

February 11, 2008

Page 2’s LZ Granderson is quickly becoming one of my favorite writers, online or in print.  Today, he has a piece about Craig Hodges, the former Bulls’ sharpshooter who spoke out during his playing career about racial issues. The question is, was Hodges blackballed from the NBA because of it.

 Enjoy.


LZ challenges athletes of today

January 31, 2008

Page 2’s LZ Granderson has an interesting today on African-American athletes on their interest, or lack thereof , in politics.

 Enjoy.


Do (black folks) expect too much from Tiger?

January 23, 2008

tigerwoods1.jpg

At the risk of beating this Golfweek-Kelly Tilghman-Tiger Woods saga to death, this (hopefully) will be the last post concerning the matter.

It’s been well documented that Woods and Tilghman are friends, having developed a professional relationship during Woods’ tenure on the PGA tour and Tilghman’s time on the Golf Channel. So, when Tilghman dropped the imfamous “lynch” bomb, Woods stuck up for Tilghman just like any friend would and should do. To him, it was a non issue.

But to members of the black community, and some in the black media, Woods’ perceived nonchalant response wasn’t enough. Many felt that, because they felt offended and upset Woods should feel that same way. They wanted him to stand up for what was right and “represent”

 Page 2’s Scoop Jackson challenged Woods to speak up, continuing the legacy of his late father Earl.  Predictably, Rev. Al Sharpton was ready to march.  

On the other hand, the WP and PTI’s Michael Wilbon, who is friends with both Woods and Tilghman, sides with Woods and says we should move on.

Unfortunately for Woods, he will always face this dilemma if and when something like this comes up. Although he only considers himself partially black, the black community thinks otherwise and views him 100-percent black. So when we don’t feel that his reaction equals the magnitude of the situation, he runs the risk of being ripped in the media and in public opinion.

Woods is entitled to his opinion and is by no means obligated to speak up on racial issues. One can only hope that the media and fan’s views of Woods aren’t clouded because he isn’t perceived as being black enough.

Whatever that means.