Archive for the On Sports! Category

The Brawl for it All!

Posted in On Sports! with tags , on May 3, 2015 by playthell

Oscar De La Hoya v Floyd Mayweather Jr.

 Pretty Boy Floyd: Reigning Master of the “Sweet Science”
 Money Mayweather and Pacman Cast their Fates in Vegas Ring

Tonight’s the night!  The long awaited fight between Floyd “Money” Mayweather and Manny “Pacman” Pacquiao has finally arrived!  Although it is not the “greatest fight ever” – or even the most popular, a point I shall demonstrate in an essay to be posted on Sunday – it is the biggest match in terms of purses and gross receipts.  By that standard, which is the raison d’etre for prize fighting; this is unquestionably the biggest fight in history! With revenues predicted to rise as high as 400 million dollars it is predicted to break all records for a single event by a large margin.

Hence I believe that Mayweather, the greatest fight hype artist since Muhammad Ali – has played fight fans like a virtuoso violinist by making them believe that he is scared of Manny, and all of the haters are rushing to buy tickets in order to witness Mayweather suffer his first defeat.  However they will be joined by true fight fans in the pay per view market along with the rich celebrities and plutocrats that will attend the live event.

Since everything that can be said about this fight has been said ad nauseum, and has by now become clichés, I shall simply address some mistakes that have become conventional wisdom among fight fans. Here is my take on the fight.  In this matchup we have the possibility of a great fight in which theoretically anybody can win; although against Floyd Mayweather they seldom turn out to be the shootouts the hypemeisters predict.

This is because Mayweather is so good he usually figures out his opponent by the middle rounds and after that he makes they look like stumble bums!  If we go by the numbers there is no doubt that Mayweather is “pound for pound” the greatest fighter of this moment in history and the best defensive boxer ever.  According to Punch Stats, the computerized record that shows how often a fighter lands a punch compared to how many times they get hit, Floyd Mayweather is the most skilled pugilist EVER!  That’s why his record is 47-0, and in boxing that is the only statistic that really matters.

After studying films of all his major fights I believe that Floyd Mayweather is such a slick defensive fighter that Pacquiao can’t hit him solidly with a hand full of rice!!  Hence I am predicting that Floyd will give this Flip a boxing lesson and could well knock his cocky ass out…which would occasion a period of national mourning in the Philipines, where the entire population seems to be emotionally invested in the outcome of this fight.

Although it has somehow become conventional wisdom that Floyd can’t punch the record shows that he has knocked out over half of his opponents…and as many professional fighters have pointed out somebody who can’s punch could not have compiled such a record against world class fighters!

Actually, it wouldn’t surprise me if it turns out to be a relatively easy fight for Money May.  I have a very good record of picking big fights….the last time I missed was Sugar Ray Leonard vs. Marvelous Marvin Hagler.  But I picked Leonard by a knockout against Thomas “Hit Man” Hearns, when all the boxing wise guys were putting their money on Hearns.

Hence when Pacquiao’s trainer, Freddie Roach, predicts a knockout for his guy I think it is either because he is punch drunk from taking too many blows to the head during his undistinguished boxing career, or he is trying to get Floyd off his game by pissing him off before the fight because he knows that’s his fighter’s only chance at victory.  I certainly do.

Much speculation has been offered about the reasons why Floyd has been so quiet as the fight approaches; the haters naturally argue that this is evidence of Floyd’s fear of steeping in the ring tonight with the Pacman but I think it is the quiet confidence of a fighter who has never lost a fight or been without a championship belt in 17 years!

This is the longest championship run in history. For most people the kind of brash confidence Floyd displays is a foreign feeling, never having absolutely mastered any challenging endeavor, but it is a commonplace attitude among those who have never lost in a competition against world class opponents.  On the other hand Manny Pacquiao has suffered six defeats: three by knockouts!  So I think all of his fat mouthin about knocking Floyd out is an attempt to psyche himself up!

Manny was knocked out cold by Jaun Manuel Marquez; put to sleep so thoroughly that his trainer and his wife feared that he was dead.  That fight can be seen on You Tube.  Conversely Floyd gave Marquez a boxing lesson, made him look like an amateur while coasting to an easy victory.  I know all of the blather about how that is no predictor of the likely outcome of this match because “styles make fights,” but in this case the style points favor Floyd since Manny revealed that he is a sucker for the right hand counter – the punch that sent him to Dreamland – and Floyd is the best in the business at throwing the right hand counter punch!  This is partially the reason why Marquez picked Mayweather in this fight…among others.

Marquez looked Confused at Times

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Mayweather landed right hands at will as the fight progressed

Another myth about Mayweather is that he has trouble with lefthanders and Manny is a southpaw so he has an advantage going into the fight.  Again this is a game of numbers and in this case Floyd’s won lost record is the most reliable evidence: he is 8-0 against southpaws.  In support of their claim Floyd’s detractors point to the Zab Judah fight, but he beat Judah!

The only way one can make sense of such arguments, after we exclude the impassioned haters, is to recognize that Floyd is so good that fans expect him to shut all of his opponents out by winning every round!  Hence if an opponent wins a round or even hits him with a good clean shot its big news!  That’s why we keep hearing about Floyd having trouble with southpaws although he has never lost a fight to one and has dominated in points, averaging nine out of twelve rounds!

Hence Floyd’s “troubles” with lefthanders is wishful thinking, a contemporary myth that has been repeated so often by haters and dunderheads who understand but little of the art of pugilism that it has taken on a patina of reality.  I believe that Floyd will neutralize Manny’s left hand by staying out of range with his superb lateral movement, and once he takes his measure he will begin to land right hand counterpunches and Manny will become gun shy and hesitate to throw it.

Will Manny’s Southpaw stance and relentless wild style insure Victory?
 Manny Vs. Bradley
Manny employed his straight left repeatedly in victorious Rematch with Bradley

Another myth that has miraculously persisted in the face of contravening facts, like the political line of the Republican Party, is the belief that Floyd Mayweather is a runner who can only fight in the center of the ring, thus in order to beat him one needs to brawl and force him onto the ropes or in the corner.  However a survey of the films of Floyd’s will so clearly reveal that this is such a gross error  Stevie wonder can see it!   The fact is that Floyd Mayweather is great fighting on the ropes and in the corners, when the brawlers attempt to maul him he treats them like Ali treated Foreman – one of the most devastating punchers in boxing history – he ropes the dopes!

The fact is the Floyd is as good fighting inside as outside, he does not have to run because he can stand right in front of these jokers and make them miss; he reminds me of the great Wilfredo Benitez in his defensive artistry…the Sweet Science indeed!   While Mayweather’s fans have every reason to believe that their man’s superior boxing skills and ability to take a punch – as he demonstrated in the Shane Mosley fight and others – will insure victory, Pacquiao fans would be well advised to worry about Floyd’s right hand counterpunch.

Not only is Mayweather the smartest fighter in terms of ring intelligence, which enables him to analyze his opponents strategy and counter it, he can also punch!  And he is the bigger stronger man.  If Manny gets careless, as he is prone to do with his reckless way of raining punches, and leaves himself open to the straight right hand, it’s gonna be lights out!   Hence, for these reasons and more, I am picking Mayweather either by a decision or a late round knockout.  However if Manny really gets reckless and tries to knock Floyd out like he threatens to do, out he could get caught with a pin point power punch and go out early.

But he couldn’t escape Jaun’s right Hand Counter

 Marquez drops  right hand on Many

Manny crumbled like a paper tiger!
Knocked out cold:  Manny’s trainer and wife thought he was dead!

 Manny Knocked out by Marquez

 Can Pacman evade Floyd’s Right Hand?  That is the question

 ****************

 Click to witness Marquez knock Manny out
https://youtu.be/V7pwZ4njcw0
Witness Mayweather’s masterful defeat of Marquez
https://youtu.be/jE2w4nJlk0Q
*******************
Playthell G. Benjamin
Way Out West
May 2, 2015

At the Track with El Grande Renaldo!

Posted in Cultural Matters, On Sports!, Photo-Essays with tags , , on March 3, 2015 by playthell

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David Hardiman, Virtuoso Trumpeter, Professor,  San Francisco Jazz Master

 Watching the Sport of the Gods at Golden Gate

 When I agreed to meet my main man Renaldo Ricketts aka El Grande Renaldo – poet, painter and San Francisco Bon vivant – at Golden Gate Field I hadn’t been to a race track in over thirty years.  Not because of any crazy notions about the horses being treated “inhumanely,” since I believe humane treatment ought to be for humans although it is seldom achieved.  And horses well….they should be treated like horses…Duh?    I was kept away from the track by weightier considerations.  Since I am a passionate horse lover and hold a longtime fascination with the equestrian arts, I attended those marvelous horse shows at Madison Square Garden and often rode my own horses.

However I never missed the running of the Triple Crown Races on big screen televisions and thought I had the best seat in the house until yesterday, when I found myself standing tight down by the edge of the track – so close you could feel the momentum of those powerful Thoroughbred horses as they galloped by.  And since I had my camera with me I was happy as a hog in slop.  Renaldo had invited me to join him at the track on other occasions when I was visiting the Bay Area.   But I always played past it.  But this time it was on the eve of his sixtieth birthday, a landmark in the life of anybody these days, but most especially out spoken high spirited black men like Renaldo.

So I thought what tha hell; I’ll go hang out with my buddy and watch some great equine athletes do their thing, which is run faster and longer than any animal on the planet.  While I like to watch the horses Renaldo loves to play them, and is one of the few people who is successful at it.  The way he does it strikes me as some strange conjuration that’s part art, part science, and part Mumbo Jumbo, which makes it beyond the reach of most rational beings and has led to wreck and ruin for may who tried to unlock the secret to winning money playing the horses.  It is a mystery that I long ago decided was beyond the realm of my comprehension and I wouldn’t give a cripple crab a crutch to wager on a nag!

I grew up amid horses, my grandfather was an excellent horseman and my uncle was the town blacksmith in St. Augustine Florida, the nation’s oldest city, where people still rode horses through the street when I was a boy.  Hence I not only learned how to care for horses and handle them whether hitched to a carriage or under saddle, but to shoe them too.  I know a lot about horses, which is why I don’t bet on them.  Horses are living creatures that have a mind of their own and can be moody just like humans; or they just might not feel well, but you never know when they will sit down on you.

I’d rather play the lottery, where all I need is a dollar and a dream and one hit can put me on easy street.  However gambling wise guys know that playing the horses offers much better odds, but to win you have got to work at it and do some study.   In the photo essay below you will witness the intensity of the bettors, as the scan the TV monitors that adorn the walls everywhere, and the disciplined concentration with which they study the racing forms.

El Grande Renaldo is something of a legend at Golden Gate Field, the lovely race track nestled on the banks of the San Francisco Bay, especially in the Second Floor Lounge,  where the bartenders and barmaids treat him as an old friend and his seat at the end of the bar is practically reserved.  He was generous in providing my drink of choice, rum and coke with olives and cherries, while he stuck to light beer and sparkling water.  Like most of the people at the track Renaldo is all business.  He is not only placing bets on races all over the country and following them on the many TV monitors about.  It was fascinating to watch.

However there were many fascinating episodes on that adventure at the track.  It began with the ride on the shuttle bus that ferries people back and forth from the BART train station to Golden Gate Field.  The driver, a Pacific Islander who looked to be in his late thirties, was a passionate fan of vintage 1950’s Afro-American Rhythm and Blues, especially the southern artists.  So on the way to the race track I heard Bobby Blue Bland, BB King, Etta James, Sam Cooke, and James Brown.  They were all original recordings which ran about three minutes and change.  As this was the music that I grew up on it was like a trip back in time, except that back in the day in Florida I would never have been on a bus full of white people grooving to the music and seated next to a white woman with a skirt so short one wrong move and we would have seen her tonsils!

Thus I found myself strolling down memory lane and reflecting  on how dramatically race relations  have changed during my lifetime, not that I need any reminders, after all we have a black family in the White House, everything else pales beside that fact.  I say this without fear of contradiction, despite the verbose ahistorical numb skulls who insist that nothing has changed.   When I arrived at Golden Gate and walked into the vast park I began to have second thoughts as to whether I would actually be able to find Renaldo, but he had assured me in no uncertain terms that he would be where he said he would be.  And he was.

The first thing I heard when I entered the lounge was Renaldo’s voice calling out my name.  There he was in his seat at the end of the bar, impossible to miss with his radiant smile and Falstafian girth, holding forth in his lively loquacious fashion as his fellow travelers looked on.  He asked what I was drinking, introduced me around, and then turned his attention to the next races.  As Renaldo worked his strange alchemy, whereby he turns cardboard tickets into gold the way his Moorish ancestors were rumored to have turned sand into gold back in the day, I wandered down to the edge of the track and began photographing the horse and the humans, who were diverse and of interesting variety.

What was conspicuously absent from the multi-ethnic stew was Afro-American trainers and jockeys.  I’ll bet most people never even notice this, or find it unusual even if they do.  This is because most people who visit race tracks have never seen any significant black presence among the horse handlers.  Yet for many years during the late 19th and early 2th century, Black American Jockeys and trainers dominated the tracks; they owned the Kentucky Derby!  Since I have already written about this in another essay I shall not reiterate it here, for a full discussion of that topic enter “Black Jockeys” in the search engine of this blog.

The point is that they were driven out of the industry by white racist who couldn’t compete with these black masters fairly. And if they had their way Brother Hardiman would not be thrilling the crowds with his wonderful trumpet artistry.  They tried to lay him off but the public wouldn’t stand for it, Renaldo first among them in sparking a letter writing campaign to the management of golden Gate.  The lesson here is that we must be eternally vigilant and ready to battle the forces of white supremacy at all times: Anytime, Anyplace, Anywhere!

I have often felt that there is a serendipitous quality about how I come to write certain essays.  This is a case in point.  Recently I saw a movie starring Will Smith as a con man who hooks up with a foxy grafter and they paint a fascinating portrait of the high fashion hotties and other characters who hang out a race tracks.  So I was looking closely to see if I recognized any of those types.  However the high point for me was watching all of the beautiful horses; I really got an eyegasm.  Some of them you will see in the photographs below.

A hail fellow well met, everybody greeted Renaldo with a warm vibe, what the French call “bon homie.” But the person that I found most fascinating was the official Bugler at the track who plays the fanfare announcing the races.  I was first struck be the fact that he would play impromptu jazz improvisations during the intermission between races, and they were so hip I wondered who it was.  Well he turned out to be David Hardiman, virtuoso trumpeter, Professor of Music and Director of the San Francisco All-Star Jazz Orchestra.

So when he came out to play his next fanfare Renaldo introduced us and I asked him to play the classic Jazz tune Bugle Call Rag, and he swung it.  I have attached a clip of Hardiman and his orchestra in performance at the bottom of this essay.  Every time I hung with Renaldo in San Francisco it has been a fascinating and culturally enriching experience.  The first time we hung out he took me to the Church of Saint John Coltrane; this time I met one of train’s musical descendants. Hence I knew something fascinating would happen hanging out at the track with El Grande Renaldo!

 ************

 After Playing the classic “Bugle Call Rag” at my Request
 DSCN8505
The Bugler and I became fast Friends
 We had been Properly Introduced by a Mutual Friend
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El Gran Renaldo: San Francisco artist and Bon Vivant!
 It Was a Stylish Crowd

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 Filled with Free Thinking Fashionistas!
 Folks Still Wear Hats…….
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By the San Francisco Bay
 Even Barely Legal Young Foxes
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Be Rockin Fly Sky Pieces
 Many Mexican Playas Rock Cowboy Hats …

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 …and they play em to the Max!
 Harry Reems Jr Sported a Fedora
 DSCN8475
 Played off by a Handle Bar Mustache
 And the Star Girls
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Bedecked themselves in finery
 Then Strutted their Stuff….
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…..before the High Rollers
 Some Fly Girls….
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 Put themselves conspicuously on Display
 While Others…..
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 Are Low Key
 Most People Came to Bet on the Races

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I came to watch these Marvelous Equines
 Among Racing Wise Guys…..Nothing is left to Chance

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They study racing forms as if they were Talmudic Text
 Even as they dine on wine and swine

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They keep their eyes on the prize
  Renaldo has a special spot in the Second Floor Lounge
 DSCN8485
From whence he monitors multiple races and watch his fortunes rise or fall
 He has felt the Thrill of Victory…..

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 ……and the Agony of Defeat!
 Man’s Best Friend….The King of Beasts!
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Thoroughbreds can run longer and faster than any animal on earth!
 The Jockeys are cool, calm and collected
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As they wait to board their mo
The Boss Bugler Presented a Fanfare
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To Announce Every Race
 And what splendid Races they Were!
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The ran like they were running for their lives!
Until One Breaks Away From the Pack

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And takes the Money
 The Horses build up such speed
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 They need time to slow down
The Losers are quickly unsaddled
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And returned to the paddock 
While the Winning Steed

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Prances around like a Conquering Hero
 Heading to the Starting Gate

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 Racing Horses are so Hyped they must be Restrained by another Rider
 Ready to Run!
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The Escort’s job is Critical to Keeping the Racers Under control
 Getting them in the Gates require great skill

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 The Calm before the Storm
 The Big Grey took this One!
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A Rare Color for a Thoroughbred
 After the dramatic win…
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…….this champ got all snuggly
 It was just another Day for the Big Gray

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I marvel at his beautiful Conformation

 

In the Winner’s Circle!!!

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 This is what it’s all About!
 *************************
Double click to see Hardiman and the Jazz All-Stars

http://youtu.be/eYoFXvfIIA8

Playthell G. Benjamin 
March 2, 2015
 San Francisco

 

 

 

 

On Sports, Academics and  Black Youths  

Posted in Cultural Matters, On Sports! with tags , on February 17, 2015 by playthell

Russell-Wilson V

 Russell Wilson: Seattle Seahawks Quarterback
 An Open Letter To Eric L. Watree
 Dear Eric

I have carefully read your essay and here is my considered response.  I have already addressed most of your concerns in my lengthy essay “On Race, Culture and Sports,” as your argument is essentially the same as that of professor John Hoberman, ” the author of “Darwin’s Athletes,” who presented far more evidence for his argument.   The fact that you read that essay yet make the argument you offer here does not auger well for this discussion.

My first inclination is to simply retire my argument and move on to other pressing issues.  I have more important employment for my time and intellectual energies than to re-litigate an issue on which I have already presented my most compelling arguments.  And if it were anybody but you Eric that is undoubtedly the course I would take. Early on in your essay you make the following claim:

Playthell is a huge sports fan and is of the belief that sports have been invaluable in their impact on helping to move the Black community forward. I, on the other hand, see sports as a two-sided coin. While sports have undoubtedly been of great value in helping many young Black people to build character, obtain an education, and financially prosper, in terms of the overall Black community these people represent a limited few. For the greater part of the Black community, however, the lure of sports often serves as a distraction that prevents many from investing in their intellectual development and pursuing more realistic goals.”

 First let me point out that according to the website Inside Higher Ed, in a 2014 article titled More Athletes get to finish Line, the figures show that in 2007, 70% of black male athletes graduated college and 81% of black females.  Among white athletes 93% of them graduated and 85% of white males.  Many of these young people would never have gotten to college without sports scholarships.

However a later study by the University of Pennsylvania put the graduation rates for black male athletes at 50.2%, but the black non-athlete students only have a 55% graduation rate.  No great difference there. I think these young student/athletes should be celebrated for their hard work and discipline rather than besmirched with a bunch of hackneyed clichés that have no basis in reality.

Furthermore, I would argue that there is no question that sports has been “invaluable “in helping to move the black community forward.  We live in a participatory democracy that where black people are concerned has been a “Tyranny of the majority” in the words of Alexis de Tocqueville, the French sociologist who produced the first serious study of the American polity in his two volume tome “Democracy in America in 1831.

This being the case, as a minority in America our progress has depended upon the ability to persuade the white majority that we are worthy of inclusion into this society as first class citizens empowered with the full array of rights enumerated in that much celebrated declaration of universal humanistic values announcing the independence of the English speaking colonies of North America from the control of the British Empire, and codified in the US constitution.  It is useless to lament this extra burden placed on Afro-Americans; it is unfair to be sure, but nonetheless true.

I would argue that no group of Afro-Americans has been more effective at persuading the majority of white Americans of our human value – by demonstrating our beauty and genius – than Afro-American athletes and entertainers!  Since you are not inclined to read history texts you are probably not aware of this fact.  It is impossible to calculate the positive effects of Joe Louis’s defeat of Max Schmeling in their second fight, which was billed as a fight between “Fascism and Democracy, but it is enough to know that President Roosevelt publicly told him  “America is depending on those muscles tonight Joe.”  And his Jewish promoter, Mike Jacobs, announced at the White House gathering “Yes Mr. President, Joe Louis will show those NAZI’s who the real master race is!”  It is difficult for contemporary Afro-Americans to realize the importance of such statements in an openly racist apartheid America, but I will be posting a major essay on the importance of Joe Louis in a few days.

However the famous Grambling football coach Eddie Robinson remembers that in the aftermath of that fight “It was the first time a white person called me an American.”  And the legendary Alabama football coach Bear Bryant says the performance of USC running back Sam “The Bam” Cunningham did more to integrate the University of Alabama than Martin Luther King when he came down there in that football state and ran for 220 yards in a rout against them.  When Jesse Owens set world records while winning multiple Gold Medals at the NAZI Olympics in Berlin it was a mortal blow to the NAZI claim of Aryan superiority and inspired the Jewish people and anti-fascist forces all over the world!

None of these achievements led to instant change, because massive social changes do not occur overnight, especially where there are concrete material interests involved , but I can cite endless examples of the positive effects of sports stars in advancing the race in America and abroad.  One final example.  When I interviewed some participants in the bloody Civil Rights Movement in St. Augustine Florida, where I grew up, I asked them how they mustered up the courage to go on a particularly dangerous night march – which has been well documented by the historians Steven Oates and Taylor Branch Heyward Fleming told me: “Well Jackie Robinson came down and marched with us, and when we saw Jackie we knew we couldn’t lose.”  It is instructive to note that DR.MARTIN LUTHER KING WAS ALREADY THERE!  This reverence for Jackie Robinson provides a measure of the importance of Jackie having broken the color barrier in Major League Baseball, even though almost 20 years had passed.

Jackie Robinson and Dr. King

jackie_robinson & Martin King

Two Giants in the Struggle

Your comment that “the lure of sports often serves as a distraction that prevents many from investing in their intellectual development and pursuing more realistic goals” is undoubtedly true, but the same thing can be said of those who aspire to be singers, rappers or Jazz and classical musicians.  How realistic is it that one will be able to make a living at any of these occupations?  Furthermore your statement begs the question of what would these youngsters in question be doing if they were not involved in sports?

I think your argument here is based on a false premise: that these young men would be engaged in serious intellectual pursuits if they were not participating in sports.  I see no evidence that this is true, for there is certainly no paucity of failures among those who are not involved in sports.  Alas,  I’d wager that there is a mountain of statistical evidence to demonstrate that impoverished underclass youths and even working class youths who don’t participate  in sports are more likely to end up in jail, dead, on drugs, etc.  That’s because the problem of arrested development is not participation in sports but structural impediments to their advancement and BAD PARENTING!!!!!

There is no evidence of which I am aware that prove sport as such is the main cause of a “lack of intellectual development” in young black males.  If so, would you please acquaint us with it?   Since your essay here is supposed to be a response to my essay “On Race Culture and Sports” I can only conclude that you are not a careful reader.  Since you have repeatedly told me about all of the wisdom you gained from “winos” and other “hood  rats” how could you fail to note this passage about my experience as a devoted football player and the intellectual enlightenment and encouragement that I received from black athletes in my youth:

Hence there was no dichotomy between athletics and scholastics In the black communities I came of age in.  Although I doubt that anyone of my generation loved playing football more than I did, that love didn’t stop me from dreaming about becoming a symphony conductor, nor diminish my curiosity about the wonders of science, nor prevent me from becoming a civil rights activist – although certain football players at A&M shunned involvement in the movement because they thought it could hurt their athletic careers – nor did it dampen my love  for reading Shakespeare…or later becoming a published Shakespeare Critic. (See: “Did Shakespeare Intend Othello to be Black: A Meditation on Blacks and the Bard” in Othello: New Essays By Black Writers, Howard University Press

I first heard the ideas of European philosophers like Kant and Spinoza passionately debated by local black college football and basketball players like “Bubby Robinson and “Big Bama,” outside of McCall’s barbershop, which became an important center for organizing the civil rights struggle when Martin Luther King came to town in 1964, and one of its proprietors, Clyde Jenkins, became a hero of the movement. And, I might add, another hero of that movement was baseball great Jackie Robinson.”

Aside from ignoring personal testimony regarding my experience as a football athlete and being mentored by older athletes, you repeat that hackneyed cliché about participation in sports as the cause of intellectual underachievement in young black males. Yet this bogus claim was demolished by distinguished scholars from several disciplines who participated in the conference discussed in my essay.  Did you not read this passage?

…even if it’s true that Afro-Americans have a love of sport that amounts to a “fixation,” it is not automatically a bad thing. The most persuasive argument for that point of view was put forth by Dr. Keith A. P. Sandiford, an Afro-Barbadian cricket expert who is a Professor of History at the University of Manatoba, in Canada. ‘Some former colonial societies have succeeded extremely well here by emphasizing the value of education, by arguing that athletic triumphs depend to a large extent upon mental acuity, and by promoting their black, brown, and yellow heroes in all disciplines.’ Hence Sandiford, who pointed out that Barbados has the highest literacy rate in the world, argued that  ‘It cannot be disputed that Barbadian cricketers continue to be lionized by a society still enthralled by the cult of cricket, but the Barbadians (committed as they have traditionally been to  the competing cult of education) have never lost their respect for intellectual genius.  There is, in the final analysis, nothing wrong with the sports fixation itself- so long as it leaves time for other constructive addictions.’”

 Since these passages obviously made no impression upon first reading – which is evidenced by the fact that you made no mention of them – I don’t expect them to have a different effect upon a second reading.  Hence the main reason that I am engaging in this exchange is to educate other readers who may happen onto this page.  But any evidence you have that shows a causal relationship between participation in sports and low intellectual achievement would benefit us all in grappling with this critical issue.

 Russell Wilson and Dad
 Russell and Harrison Wilson
 Athletic and Academic Stars!

You insist that the problem of low intellectual achievement in young black males is due to their participation in sports, yet Russell Wilson has been a sports fanatic all of his life.   Excelling in football, baseball and basketball – he is one of a very small group of elite  athletes to be drafted by two professional teams in sports in history – and all of these men have been wildly successful American icons.  No down side there!  Russell Wilson graduated from a major university in three years while starring in two varsity sports.

His father was a sports fanatic who played briefly in the NFL, then went on to a distinguished career in the law.  Russ’s father’s mother and father, his paternal grandparents hold PhD’s, and his grandfather was a basketball star on the black college circuit when the black schools had the best players in the nation. It was he that turned Russ’ father Harrison onto sports.  Yet Harrison and his brother, who is also a sports enthusiast, went to Dartmouth and Harvard.  Calvin Hill, a former star running back with the Dallas Cowboys held a master’s degree from Yale, and his son, basketball great Grant Hill, graduated from Duke.  Tiger Woods has been obsessed with playing golf since he was three years old, but his father, a former officer in the Green Berets, made playing golf conditional on his getting good grades, so he became the greatest golfer in history and was admitted to Stanford.

Richard Sherman, the best corner back in football maintained a four point average in high school and a 3.9 average at Stanford!  He says the work ethic which made such high achievement possible was inspired witnessing his father rise at four in the morning to go out and drive a trash truck around LA, then come home and work on their house in the evenings. And rapper Snoop Dogg’s son Cordell is on his way to UCLA to play football, a sport his father introduced him to and coached his Pop Warner teams, but the coach says when he met with Snoop and his wife on a recruiting visit “He didn’t talk about football; he talked about educating his son for life after football!”  (See the video clip below.)

If you had been playing football like your LA homies, chances are you would not have been a juvenile delinquent faced with jail or a stint in the Marine Corps!  For instance John Wideman was obsessed with basketball as a kid and remained entranced by the sport his entire life, playing the game until halted by age.  His Brother Robbie however had no interests in sports and decided to become a street player instead, killed a man during a robbery, and  ended up spending his entire adult life in jail…where he will die.

John on the other hand won a state wide competitive Benjamin Franklin Scholarship that provided an all expenses paid education at the University of Pennsylvania, which stopped granting athletic scholarships years before Wideman joined the student body.  And despite having to deal with the racism and elitism of white students he became a basketball star and a Rhodes Scholar. Writing about Wideman in a 2002 paper for the University Archives, Elliot A. Greenwald tells us:

“As a Rhodes Scholar, Wideman was heralded in the national media. Look magazine’s article, ‘The Astonishing John Wideman,’ by Gene Shalit, introduced Wideman to the nation, providing a stylized version of his Penn experience, focusing on how he overcame simple racial differences to succeed. Even though Shalit and others from Look followed the team on a road trip to Yale and Brown and attended Wideman’s classes the article fails to discuss racial issues concretely… Shalit explained, ‘Girls call him up for dates, professors invite him to their homes for dinner…[T]he world is his plaything…Obviously it is not. John Wideman is a Negro….'”

Choosing an academic career over pro basketball  Wideman went on to become one of the most distinguished  American writers on the 20th century, and now has an international community of scholars devoted to the study of his work ( see: The John Wideman Society.”   I would hazard a guess that fascination with street life is a far greater danger to black males than sports!

Paul Robeson starred in four sports yet made the highest score in New Jersey on his college entrance exams, tutored his white classmates in Greek and Latin and graduate Valedictorian of his class at Rutgers –  then one of America’s elite universities.  However Robeson’s father had escaped from slavery and worked his way through Lincoln University – where they studied the same curriculum as Harvard – and thus placed a good education at the top of his list.

Alas, since you have declared on numerous occasions that you are not impressed by elite university educations, the academic achievement in such schools by the athletes mentioned above may  make no difference to you Eric, but for a multitude of people admission to elite universities and earning doctorate degrees are outstanding accomplishments; this writer included.  But you can’t have it both ways Eric, either you are for high academic achievement or not; and if you are for it then how do we measure it?  There are so many examples of black athletes who were high academic achievers that I could  go on ad infinitum; especially if I look at it Globally.

For instance Dr. Bartholomew Naji, who came from Nigeria to attend St. Johns University in New York.  Naji not only set collegiate athletic records while graduating in three years, but went on to take a PhD in Industrial Engineering and become one of world’s foremost authorities in Robotics. His expertise in the field was such that the State Legislature in Massachusetts created a special chair in Industrial Engineering to keep him at UMass.

Despite this effort he has returned to Nigeria and if he can get the politicians to fund his projects we will see some cutting edge ideas coming from Nigeria in computer science and robotics.  I knew him well and he too had parents who demanded that he excel in school.  These examples alone – although I could cite numerous others – leave no doubt in my mind that the parents you get are far more important to success in life than an obsession with sports!

It is interesting that you dismissed this argument elsewhere because you claim that it is based on “anecdotal evidence,” when you have offered NO EVIDENCE for your sweeping generalizations: anecdotal or otherwise!  As near as I can tell, it’s just about how you see things; we should take it on your word.  Furthermore you have a tendency to state the obvious as if it were a profound revelation.  The following statement is a case in point:

 “I view sports much like I do morphine. In small doses it can be of great medicinal value against pain, but if you overdo it, it can destroy your life, and it seems to me that many in the Black community are about to overdose from a lack of substance as a result of its abuse, both literally, and figuratively.”

 Of course too much of even a good thing can be harmful, too many vitamins can hurt you, but what evidence do you have that “…many in the Black community are about to overdose from a lack of substance as a result of its abuse, both literally, and figuratively.” Have you read sociological studies that demonstrate this statistically?  Or do these bits of wisdom descend into your head from the ether.

I have no way of knowing how you arrive at these conclusions because you have already told me that you believe sociology is a pretentious fraud, mumbo jumbo I think you called it; so how do you know the claims you make about the cause and effect of large scale social phenomena are true?  Or are we to again take your word on this critical issue because you say it is so?   Is it just common sense?  Well I require a bit more persuasion: what is your evidence for these sweeping generalizations?

You tell us with brimming confidence:

“So I’m not against sports, per se, but I do think that sports should be kept in perspective. It’s perfectly natural for kids to want to indulge in games, but while they are indulging in these games it’s very important that the adults in their lives constantly remind them that sports represent the “Toy Department” of life, and that there are many other things in life that are much more important. But due to our mass societal fixation on sports, and the virtual “worship” of sports figures, they’re rarely getting this instruction. As a direct result, we’ve become a society of easily manipulated, undereducated, and totally distracted sports junkies. “

 First of all,  virtually everything you say about sports in this passage can also be said about music and musicians!  The biggest musical acts fill up those same stadiums and the fans get just as crazy…if not worse!  Here again sports is being made a scapegoat for your rightful concern about other societal ills. Furthermore, since you have cited Socrates as your role model, it should interest you to know that his prize pupil Plato, from whose writings we learn most about Socrates’s life and thought, considered music and sport of equal importance in the education of the youth in his ideal Republic. He also thought the athlete was superior to the spectator and poets should be banned from the Republic!  Hence a joker like you, a poet who disdains sport, would not have fared very well in Socrates’ crowd, for the cultivation of mind and body equally is the essence of the Greek ideal of human development.  Remember Eric, it was the ancient Greeks that gave us the Olympics: the greatest sporting event in history!

I would argue that love for and participation in sports has caused many young men to remain in school that might have dropped out, and raised the academic achievement of many other youths: THOSE WHOSE PARENTS VALUE EDUCATION ENOUGH TO MAKE PLAYING SPORTS A REWARD FOR ACADEMIC ACHIEVEMENT!!!    I am not guessing about this Eric, that was what me and all of my friends did who had kids that were athletes!  Just like YOUR SON DOES WITH HIS KIDS!   You have no trouble recognizing the good that sports is doing for your grandchildren; so why wouldn’t sport have the same benefits for other youths if they enjoyed the guidance good parents too?

I didn’t tell my children that sport is the “toy Department of life” because that’s not how I see it. I regard your statement as little more than an expression of personal prejudice that bears no observable relationship to the reality of sports in human experience.  And it is certainly at odds with the bulk of the scholarship on the subject.

For instance Dr. Marianne Engle, a professor of Sports Psychology at the distinguished New York University Child Study Center, published a paper in 2004 title “Kids and Sports: Creating a Healthy Experience for Every Child.”  This paper sums up the conclusions of the major researchers in the field of sports participation and human development, and Dr. Engle tells us:

“Participation in sports, whether as an individual or as a member of a team, plays an important role in the social, emotional and physical development of children and adolescents. Successful sports experiences provide benefits – gains in social and interpersonal competence, fitness, health-mindedness, and psychological well-being – that have been shown to last throughout life. As expressed by William Damon of the Stanford Center on Adolescence,” The future of any society depends on the character and competence of its young. In order to develop their competence young people need guidance to provide them with direction and a sense of purpose. They need relationships that embody and communicate high standards. They need to experience activities that are challenging, inspiring, and educative.”

It is an undeniable fact that sports competition is fundamental to all human societies; the more complex and advanced the society, the more complex and advanced the games they play. That’s why football, the quintessential American game, is the fastest most physically and intellectually demanding and complex game in the world!  And I know for sure that whatever a young person wants to do in society – any society in the world – all other relevant factors such as intellect and talent being equal, their chances of success will be enhanced if they are also a great athlete!

I have repeatedly implored you to read “Beyond a Boundary,” by CLR James – an athlete, sports fanatic and one of the most brilliant intellectuals of the 20th century – so you can gain a much broader view of the role of sport in society and how one can share an equal love for sport and scholarship… but to no avail.  It is hard to have serious conversations with you Eric because you do not have a proper respect for intellectual authority; as you have repeatedly told me.  This makes it difficult to build a systematic argument based on that authority and I often get the feeling that I’m wasting my time…..which is like burning money to me.

Far too much of your argument rest on intuition, subjective observations, or outright hyperbole; which as near as I can tell, is totally innocent of facts.   The following passage is a poignant case in point.

“Many in this country can tell you the starting lineup and various statistics of every football team in the country, but they can’t tell you who their congressperson is, how they voted, or what they voted on. That’s not good, and it’s having a negative impact on not only the Black community, but the nation as a whole.”

Well, I have been an avid football fan for over half a century and I have NEVER met anyone who “can tell you the starting lineup and various statistics of every football team in the country.” I have a fabled memory, in fact when I was a professor my colleagues nicknamed me “Univac,” after the giant IBM main frame computer: AND I COULDN’T TELL YOU THE ENTIRE STARTING LINEUPS OF THE  NEW YORK JETS, THE GIANTS OR MY FAVORITE TEAM THE SEATTLE SEAHAWKS IF YOU PUT A GAT TO MY HEAD!!!   Frankly I do not believe that such a person as you describe exists accept in your imagination.  As to your point about not knowing who your congressman is, I’ve got news for ya dog: I’ve known highly educated people with no interests in sport who DON’T KNOW WHO THEIR CONGRESSMAN IS!!  I challenge you to present any evidence that sports fans are more politically ignorant than non-sports fans…..this is nothing more than BASELESS CONJECTURE!  How am I supposed to take such arguments seriously?

There are other passages in your essay that sound about as scientific as astrology.  Would you please cite a scholarly source for the following claim?

“What many people fail to realize is how profoundly their thinking can be shaped by social manipulators through the use of sports and other forms of public “entertainment.” The passion engendered through sports allows social manipulators to circumvent an individual’s cerebral cortex, or intellect, and exploit a direct line to the fan’s brain stem, or the most animalistic and condition-receptive part of their brain. That allows manipulators to condition an individual’s thinking and attitudes without  the individual even recognizing it.”

I have a former student who is now a professor of Neuroscience at Harvard, he is also a Senior Research Fellow at the Krolinska Institute in Sweden, where the award the Nobel Prizes for medicine and biology, and he not only played football but considered going out for the New England Patriots as a free agent.  He is a Florida boy and loves football like me…do you suppose that you know facts about these deleterious effects of sports on the brain but it escaped his notice?  Frankly, given your often expressed disdain for intellectual authority and your high opinion of your own intellectual abilities I would not be surprised to discover that you do. But it strikes me as beyond ridiculous.

Surprisingly, you seem unaware that your concentration on sports rather than the “other forms of public entertainment,” such as musical performance, exposes an anti-sports bias that nullifies your pretentions to objectivity.  Since you have openly expressed your ignorance of history and your disdain for sociology, on what do you base the following conclusion:

“But most Americans have blindly accepted the proposition that it’s our ‘competitive spirit’ that makes this nation great. But what evidence do we have of that? How do we know that we wouldn’t have been even greater if we’d embraced a philosophy of enlightenment and the pursuit of excellence with the same amount of zeal as we’ve pursued the need to say, “I’m better than you?”  And why must our national motive be to be “the greatest nation on Earth?” We’d UNDOUBTEDLY be much greater if we’d resolved to compete against who we WERE to become the greatest nation that we can BE. How many minds do we have locked up in the nation’s prison systems who may have the unique intellect to solve the world’s problems? Is it possible that due to this nation’s ‘us against them’ mentality that they might have lynched the very person who might have found a cure for cancer?”

.Unfortunately, sentimental prattle like, “How do we know that we wouldn’t have been even greater if we’d embraced a philosophy of enlightenment and the pursuit of excellence with the same amount of zeal as we’ve pursued the need to say, “I’m better than you?” is not a serious argument!   Maybe in Socrates’s time, when most things were a matter of speculation,  but not now, in the age of quantitative comparative sociology and scientific historical research.  There is a vast scholarly literature on this subject!  Apparently you are unaware that this question has been discussed ad infinitum.

We know that the competitive American system produced the most powerful nation in the history of the world, that’s an incontestable fact, as it the fact that the productivity and efficiency that made the US economy the richest in the world is a direct result of competition between business firms to make a better product at a cheaper price!  Your position on the other hand is baseless conjecture; wishful thinking.  It is your task to convincingly demonstrate that we could have been a greater nation without the American emphasis on competition, not simply pronounce from on high.  That may be enough for you but I am unimpressed.  Your argument denouncing the evils of competition is especially curious coming from a Jazz musician.

One of the most intriguing questions regarding the art of Jazz is “How did Afro-American musicians create and develop an art form that requires virtuosity and originality on the part of every instrumentalist in the orchestra, without the benefit of a formal conservatory?” The answer is to be found in the ruthless competition between musicians striving to be ”the best” on their instruments. Without job security, written contracts, vast financial endowments for orchestras, or retirement pensions for performers, the Jazz world is a Darwinian milieu, red of tooth and claw, where survival of the fittest is the order of the day.  It’s a jungle out there!

The trials and tribulations of the professional Jazz musician are well documented in interviews by the musicians and the writers who covered them.  A poignant description of what life as a Jazz musician was like during the most popular period of modern Afro-America complex instrumental music can be found in “Good Morning Blues,” The Autobiography of Count Basie.” 

Written in collaboration with the great Afro-American writer and cultural critic Albert Murray – author of the classic “Stomping the Blues,”  for my money the best book ever written on Afro-American music – Bill Basie’s autobiography  provides an in-depth look into the world of the working Jazz musician that covers most of the 20th century, when Jazz developed.  It takes us back to a time when Jazz was a new and evolving art, and moves to a time when many big bands worked regularly and some – like Andy Kirk, Duke Ellington, Count Basie, et al  – worked three hundred days a year and could have worked 365 days if they had a mind to.

 Bill Basie
Count-Basie-01_02 
He finally Made the Cut

  There was more work for black Jazz musicians during this period than anytime in American history, but you could only work if you were considered “the best man available” by whatever standard the bandleader wished to judge you – just like today.  So the more versatile and original your sound the better your chances for getting steady work.  And the major venue of instruction in their art was The Jam Session!  The central feature of these events was the “cutting session” in which musicians on every instrument tried to outplay their counterparts.  Basie describes how the competition was so thick for seats in a working orchestra that you could lose your gig from “getting yo head cut” by a musician invited to sit in on your instrument during a gig!

He recalls an incident early on in his career when the band leader gave everybody but him a different time to return from a break, because he wanted to check out a local cat on piano.  Basie says he was outside having a smoke when he heard the band strike up, but by the time he got in the room the cat on piano was wailing.  After listening for a few choruses Basie says he went straight to the owner of the club and asked him for a job parking cars!

That’s how competitive the jazz environment that produced such great musicians was.  And nobody was more competitive that the “Be-boppers” led by Bird and Diz, who took jazz to another level of harmonic and rhythmic complexity.  To get a feel for what this environment was like you should read Ralph Ellison’s seminal essay on the origins of Bop “Things Remembered, Times Past: On Bird, Birdwatching and Jazz.”  Here is a firsthand view live from Minton’s Playhouse in Harlem, where this new genre was molded in the heat of fierce competition and only the strong survived the savage cutting sessions.

Ellison, a trumpet player from Oklahoma who was studying composition with the famous black classical composer William Dawson at Tuskegee Institute, thought he was a bad man on the trumpet.  But the fierce playing of the musicians at Minton’s scared him.  “They were playing bebops,” he wrote of the horn players “I mean rebopped bebops.”  And he described the drummers as “frozen faced introverts dedicated to chaos.” It was a heroic act to take the stage in Minton’s Playhouse, where the rhythm section often included Theolonius Monk on Piano, Oscar Pettiford on Bass, and Kenny “Klook” Clark on drums!

There are endless stories about the day Bird strolled into that lion’s den dressed like a country boy from Kansas City, whipped out his axe from a raggedy cardboard case, and slayed them all!  Dizzy Gillespie said they had been hearing bits and pieces of what Bop might sound like, but when he heard Bird play “Cherokee” it all came together. Everything about Minton’s was highly competitive – including the gangsters who regularly hung out in there and competed with each other for everything from the flyest cars, to clothes, to girls!

The great Max Roach, arguably the most influential improvisational percussionist of the twentieth century, told me that they had heard about bird from musicians who had passed through Kansas City on tour and came back talking about what a “monster” he was on the saxophone.  “But our attitude was Sheeet, we in the Big Apple baby, ain’t nothing this country boy can play that we ain’t heard before.”  So all the horn players were laying to “cut his head”  and ended up dead…slain by a yard bird from the sticks.

 Bird and Dizzy: Taking no Prisoners!
 Bird and Diz
 Two Innovative Geniuses that Changed Western Music

That was the highly competitive environment in which the fine art of Bebop was born Eric.  Louis Armstrong – a seminal figure in the evolution of Jazz – hated both bebop and the beboppers; the music and the musicians.  He once remarked that they were mean and evil people who just wanted “to carve everybody up.”  He said The music was just a bunch of chords and notes “that don’t mean nothing!”  I have never known a great Jazz musician who was not egotistical about their playing and highly competitive, and I’ve known legions of them over more than half a century. In fact, I don’t know anybody that is great at anything of whom that is not true.

The competitive nature of Jazz as a method of creating a better product is one of the things that makes Jazz the quintessential American Art.   Like athletes, who generally embrace each other after the contest – including boxers after vicious fights – musicians form a unique band of brothers and are generally friendly after the competition on the bandstand.  In fact they embody the highest ideal of sport, unless one’s lively hood is at stake: “It’s not whether you win or lose… but how you play the game.”  And I have never known a great Jazz musician who wasn’t an avid sports fan.

The great Earl “Fatha” Hines says that after his gig at the Grand Terrace Ballroom in Chi Town he and the band members would go play baseball as soon as it was light outside; Louis Armstrong had his own baseball team.  Every chance he gets, the great Wynton Marsalis plays pickup basketball games with the youths in the projects across from Lincoln Center, and is quite proud of his jump shot!  The master percussionist Rachid Ali and innovative trumpeter Miles Davis – a seminal figure in 20th century music – were both boxers and fanatical fans who never stopped going to the Gym until hobbled by age.  Miles was best friends with Sugar Ray Robinson, who also idolized Miles.  The peerless Heavyweight Champion Joe Louis, trained to Jimmy Lunceford’s “I’m a Rug Cutter,” and the powerful Sonny Liston trained to Bill Doggett’s “Night Train.”  There has always been a close relationship between black musicians and Black athletes, now it is mostly hip hop, but in an earlier period it was Jazz. So it looks like you are just an odd ball Eric; I’d bet all of these great Jazz musicians would find you as strange as I do.

In its philosophy and practice Jazz successfully embodies the highest ideals that American civilization aspires to but seldom achieves.  It is democratic; prizes individual Freedom; promotes innovation; grooves to the tempo of a machine age milieu, and sharpens performance through fair and open competition.  These are the characteristics that make Jazz the most representative American art.  Frankly Eric, as a Jazz musician I am surprised that you don’t recognize this….but then playing music and contemplating its social significance as art are two different things.

Finally, your above passage confuses  and conflates issues that have little to do with each other. People commit crimes and go to jail in every society in the world, including communal ones where competition is not encouraged.  Contrary to your faith based belief, there is no evidence that the prisons are overflowing with geniuses.  Conversely, there are numerous studies which show that the majority of prison inmates have below average IQ’s, that’s partially why they are in jail in the first place. If you do a Google search of the scholarly literature addressing the correlation between crime and IQ levels you will discover that there is abundant statistical evidence showing that incarceration rates are higher among those with the lowest IQ’s.  This proves true even when the studies are controlled for age, race, gender, and economic status.  There is no debate about this among scholars in the field.

The following passage strikes me as self-indulgent nonsense, a mindless diatribe on the evils of sport  uttered during a public temper tantrum that dramatically fails to rise to the level of what I consider serious argument.  Mostly what it does is expose an embarrassing ignorance of the ideals  and virtues promoted through sports.

 “You see, sports appeal to, stimulate, and feed upon the very worst characteristics in human nature, or what’s referred to as the “Seven Deadly Sins” – wrath, greed, sloth, pride, lust, envy, and gluttony.Each is a form of Idolatry-of-Self wherein the subjective reigns over the objective.” The very point of sports is to prove that “I’m better than you.” Sports also promotes the “Us against them” mentality that’s at the very root of every form of bigotry – racism, sexism, homophobia, xenophobia, etc.”

 If you really believe that this is the Message young people get from sports competition, why do you  celebrate their grandchildren participating in such a nefarious activity?   It would take a deranged person to proudly post their pictures on Face book openly engaging in an activity that by your description promotes ideas that have inspired mass murder!!! Racism and Xenophobia inspired the murder, enslavement and dispossession of black peoples all over the world before any of these sports were invented…they also inspired the Armenian genocide and the German  holocaust in the 20th century.  Will you please present some evidence of the role sport played in these atrocities Eric.  It is POLITICS NOT SPORTS that led to these atrocities!!! This is patent nonsense …foolishness!!

Let me share some real information that you obviously know nothing about, or you would be more careful in your argument.  In his 1986 book  “Jessie Owens: An American life,” the  first scholarly biography by a professional historian on the life of the great Afro-American Olympic athlete Jesse Owens, Dr. William J. Baker tells us how the Germans were so impressed by the athletic grace and prowess of Jesse Owens  and the other black American Olympians, that when they went out to nightclubs in Nazi controlled Berlin the German men and women flocked around them and several German men asked them to dance with their wives so they could take pictures….this was in NAZI GERMANY ERIC!!!!

Jesse Owens and Lutz Long in Nazi Germany

Jesse Owens and Lutz Long

In what arena other than sports could this friendship happened?

Obviously sports worked to alleviate the vices of “racism and xenophobiain Nazi Germany among those who met these great black athletes!  Jesse became life- long friends with the German he beat in the broad jump, and Max Schmeling, who turned up to boxing camp in a NAZI officer’s uniform to train for the second fight against Joe Louis, became his life-long friend after Joe kicked his ass in such fine fashion!!  There is plenty of evidence that sports create friendships among different peoples, often overcoming the imperatives of politics and the preachments of religion to do it, that’s the raison d’etre for the Olympic games…where is the  evidence for your charges; or are we once again supposed to just take your word for it?  Well your argument strikes me as baseless!

Sometimes your arguments contain elements of truth and fiction.  The following paragraph is an excellent example of this.

 “Now, if you’re a lifelong sports fan, you’re probably reading this and saying, “That’s ridiculous.” But it’s not surprising that you feel that way, because your conditioning is so ingrained, and so deeply seated at this point that you can’t even recognize the dysfunction in something that you’ve embraced and loved all of your life. It’s like a religion, or someone raised to believe in Voodoo – sticking pins in dolls seems like a perfectly natural way of life to them. So let me give you an example of how the system works, and how you’re being manipulated.”

 Your lead sentence is undoubtedly true,  because you sure sound “ridiculous” to me.  However your diatribe soon sinks back into the murky pseudo-intellectual quicksand  of issuing wild proclamations without the evidence to support them. You seem to take delight in spouting amateur pop-psychological analysis of complex mass human behavior….something southern California is famous for among  Easterners.  Which is why many New Yorkers refer to it as “LaLa Land.”  Alas, psychological analysis is a highly specialized esoteric practice, and I don’t trust ANYBODY who does not have a PhD to conduct it…just Like I wouldn’t think of going to a brain surgeon who didn’t have an MD.  Hence your Psycho-babble means nothing to me.  Can you cite some scholarly sources for your diagnosis? Otherwise I shall just dismiss it as spurious prattle.

Your comment “. It’s like a religion, or someone raised to believe in Voodoo – sticking pins in dolls seems like a perfectly natural way of life to them,” reveals a shameful ignorance of the culture from which so many of our ancestor came.  Voodoo is one of the world’s oldest religions, it is a polytheistic religion much like the one Socrates grew up in, as opposed to the antiseptic monotheistic religion that you grew up in – from whence your silly idea of Voodoo arises.  It is a religion that produced some of the world’s greatest art, such as the Benin Bronzes. Sculptures produced by the Yoruba people rooted in Orisha Voodoo, inspired the innovations of the creators of modern European Art such as Picasso, Salvadore Dali, and others.

The Voodoo Inspired Art of Benin

Benin--sculpture-queen-mother-benin-bronze

The Brilliance of Benin Bronze Sculpture is widely acclaimed

And by the way, despite your cavalier dismissal of religious belief: THE GREATEST ART IN THE WORLD HAS BEEN INSPIRED BY RELIGIOUS BELIEF!   I need only cite the Sistine Chapel, Bach’s B Minor Mass, and the Ellington Orchestra’s recording of “Come Sunday, with Mahalia Jackson as soloist, plus any other great traditional African art to end that conversation.

The music of the Yoruba peoples, inspired by Voodoo, supplied the basis for much of the great neo-African music of the America’s when it blended with European music….such as the Afro-Cuban Rumba and Son Montuno as well as Afro-American Spirituals, Gospel, Rhythm & Blues  and  Jazz; musical forms that have influenced musicians  of all races world-wide! The idea of Voodoo as some evil black magic consisting of people “sticking pins in dolls” is a Hollywood fantasy created by ignorant and racist white folks as part of their demonization of EVERYTHING AFRICAN!

Yet contrary to Hollywood’ s depiction of Africans as ignorant savages terrorized by a naked white man called Tarzan, here is a first-hand description of the Oba’s – Divine King – Palace in Benin, the ancient African city that produced the world famous bronze sculptures, written by the Dutch traveler Olfert Dapper in 1668, over a century before the birth of the United States.

“The king’s palace or court is a square, and is as large as the town of Haarlem and entirely surrounded by a special wall, like that which encircles the town. It is divided into many magnificent palaces, houses, and apartments of the courtiers, and comprises beautiful and long square galleries…resting on wooden pillars, from top to bottom covered with cast copper, on which are engraved the pictures of their war exploits and battles, and are kept very clean.”

The religion practiced by these people is the basis of what would later be called Orisha Voodoo.  And it makes about as much sense as any other religion in the world, but the emphasis on music and ceremonial objects made it a fertile source of artistic production. You really do need to study some black history and culture Eric.

If you want to learn something about voodoo read “Olodumare: God in Yoruba Belief,” by Bolasi E. Idowu;Art and Alters of the Black Atlantic World,” and “Tango: A History of the Dance of Love,” by Dr. Robert Farris Thompson, Professor of Art History and Dean of African Civilization at Yale University.  Although you have repeatedly told me that you have no respect for Academic degrees and University affiliations, I am still including them because most people do respect such accomplishments…the present writer included.  For unlike you, I do not consider myself wise or learned enough to comment on the complex problems of the world without constant reference to the work of great thinkers.

Finally, we have trudged to the end of your tortured and curious polemic, only to  find that the contradictions so characteristic of this impassioned tirade persist to the bitter end.  You tell us:

When a fan goes to a football game, what a fan THINKS he sees are two teams on a football field with the coaches and their staff on the sideline. But what the fan’s subconscious and emotions see are two armies on the battlefield preparing to go into combat, with two generals on the sidelines. And that’s not by accident, because the spectacle is DESIGNED to psychologically condition every male in the stadium to be willing to go into combat and sacrifice his life in a blaze of illustrious glory for “The Gipper” – or The Standard Oil Company. The very same is true of the “All-American” pastime of baseball and other sports.”

 Evidently you believe this passage to be pregnant with wisdom. But I’d bet the family jewels that the only spectators who see what you have described have unwisely dropped a hefty tab of acid….it is my fondest hope that you are not among them!    After  reading your essay carefully I am reminded of the man my grandfather says thought he was speeding when he wasn’t doing five miles an hour!   How do you know what football fans think? What studies have you seen that demonstrate this?  Is this another one of your original revelations?  Alas, it sounds like pretentious jibberish to me.   Are you so blinded by ideology that you cannot see that SPORTS COMPETITION IS AN ALTERNATIVE TO WAR!!!!

However  if what you say were true: How did a non-sports fan like you become a gung ho Marine?  Everybody who has seen the Academy Award winning documentary “Hearts and Minds” or read the path-breaking book “Deadly Deceits ” by longtime CIA field agent Ralph McGhee, understands the connection between football training and military training.  Having been a high school football  players was how I was selected for a special unit in the US Strategic Air Command.  But so what Eric?  Every nation has their ways of preparing young men to bear arms in defense of the homeland…why should the US be different?  Are you suddenly a pacifist?  Well for the record, I think pacifism is suicidal in a dangerous world, and evidently so do you; as you repeatedly mention your service in the Marine Corps with evident pride.  Do you want to denounce it now? If not what’s your beef?

However after carefully reading your near hysterical screed, I have come to the conclusion that you understand about as much about sports as a mule knows about playing a saxaphone.  Your essay is full of half-baked ideas based on erroneous assumptions that I found tedious to read and from which I leaned nothing that will have any effect on my feeling about sports.  In regard to the values that sports can teach, well  when my daughter Makeda came to me to ask me if she could join the cheer leading squad in the 9th grade, which seemed like a natural progression for a young lady who had studied ballet since kindergarten, I vociferously opposed the idea.  I was writing a column for the New York Daily News editorial page at the time.  I stopped, looked her in the eye, and said: FUCK BEING A CHEER LEADER, YOU GET IN THE ARENA AND COMPETE!  LET SOMEBODY CHEER YOU!

Well, instead of becoming a cheerleader she took all of that ballet training, joined the Peter Westbrook Foundation, became a student of Peter Westbrook – the greatest American fencer of the 20th century, a five time Olympian  – and became a fencer.  Peter was convinced that the combination of her ballet training and athletic skill – which enabled her to compete in Division I as a sprinter for the University of Delaware, while a Science Merit Scholar and a Dean List Student – could make a world champion out of her if he could just get her to devote herself to fencing.  I was interested in my kids participating in the sport of fencing because it was filled with high achievers from many fields.

 Makeda Voletta Dancing in the Ring of Fire

Makeda Dances in Hawaii

Celebrating the Goddess Pele in Hawaii

Today Makeda is a sports scientist, Certified sports nutritionist, a licensed fitness trainer who travels all over the country and abroad lecturing on women’s health and fitness! She also performs and teaches sacred dances from all over the African world, See “Magical Realism” on this blog.  She has thanked me a million times for encouraging here to become an athlete.  Why? Because that’s where she learned to compete on an equal basis with men, since men learn to compete through the games they play.  She also learned hard work and discipline – attributes which all good athletes must have, and she learned how to be magnanimous in victory and Gracious in defeat, she learned that you win some and you lose some battles…just like in real life!

My son also studied at the Peter Westbrook Foundation, where you had to maintain a high average in school in order to compete.  It was one of the best experiences of his life and he could have gone far in the sport if he had not loved baseball so much.  However what he learned about the price of excellence and what could be accomplished from hard work and perfecting one’s skills from Peter was priceless!  If anyone wanted a compelling example of how sports can save a young man from destruction and provide an avenue to the good life it is Peter Westbrooks.  Growing up in the dangerous rough and tumble  projects of Newark New Jersey, Peter was an angry young man who was headed to jail or an early grave.

 Peter Westbrooks

Peter Westbrook

America’s Greatest Fencer

Half Afro-American and half Japanese, he was small in stature and regularly picked on, but being spunky he was always getting into fights.  One day his mother came home, handed him a new Saber,  and said:” If you want to fight, learn to fight with this.  It will introduce you to a noble class of people.”  Peter began to study Saber fencing and began to love it.  He won a scholarship to a Catholic high school  – which has managed to consistently combine high academic standards and great athletic teams – and from there he won a scholarship the New York University from which he graduated with a degree in business.  After making a fortune in commodities trading he decided to devote his time and energies to introducing the sport of fencing to inner-city kids combining high academic achievement with mastery of sport.  He has now sent several of his students to the Olympics, and Keith Smart, who along with his sister Errin, has gone twice and Keith came within a touch of winning the gold Medal in the Peking Olympics: both are college graduates!

The salutatory effect that sports had on my son’s life was dramatic.  As a young kid he was skinny, asthmatic, and kind of withdrawn and timid.  However I would take him over to the park and throw footballs and baseballs with him. Greg Tate, a writer with the Village Voice, was my neighbor and wrote that I was a splendid father citing all the times he saw us together in the park.   However if we are to take you at your word Eric, you must believe I was actually wounding him psychologically, although even you must recognize that sports is good for developing strong bodies.

However in real life experience, as opposed to the ideological drivel of non-sports fans, sports turned out to be the best thing that could have happened to my son.  When he was five the preschool he attended, which was partially funded by the Dave Winfield Foundation, Samori went on a field trip to Yankee Stadium, to watch their benefactor, star centerfielder Dave Winfield  play, he gave Samori a baseball glove and it magically transformed his life.  The Harlem Little League was just forming, and the next year he was one of their players.

Once he made the baseball team I witnessed a marvelous metamorphosis in him.  He became more self-confident and grew steadily stronger physically.  I had no trouble getting him to eat right, and he became very organized, because that’s what it took to excel in a demanding school and play ball…which was contingent upon his performance in the classroom. I hosted an evening drive time radio show on WBAI FM that dealt with a variety of topics involving politics and culture, and by the time he was nine years old he began writing sports commentaries for the radio.

I began to give him the sports section from the New York Times to read to insure that he was reading the best writers, and people of all races remarked about this little kid riding the subway with his head stuck in the New York Times.  And when he visited his Aunt Claudia, an avid sports fan who directed a large job training program in Carlisle Pennsylvania,  her mostly white employees told him how they wished they could get their kids to read a newspaper.  And they were speechless when my sister let them hear his radio commentaries via the internet!

All of this gave him tremendous confidence in himself and his abilities. Then one day the great Peter Westbrook watched him playing baseball and approached me about enrolling him in his fencing program.  Where he was one of the few black kids competing in fencing in New York City.   In his first year of high school he started a Sports News Letter, posting a notice on the bulletin board for potential writers to submit a sample of their writing to him., who as Senior Editor would decide who made the cut.  Samori’s involvement with sports coupled with his studies, left no time for idleness and I never had a moment’s trouble with him during his teenage years despite the fact that we lived in Harlem during the height of crack and gangsta rap!

By his senior year Samori was the Captain of both the baseball and the fencing team…and he was the only black kid on either team.  Both Samori and Makeda, who are twins, graduated with honors from the prestigious Beacon School in Manhattan, a first rate academic school in the New York City public school system.  After a stint at Norfolk State University he would become the Sports Editor of WBAI, the station he read commentaries on as a child, and he is now finishing his degree and an important book on the disappearing Afro-American athlete in Baseball, a book from which you could learn much about Afro-American history.  But I have seen no evidence that you are inclined to read serious books by black authors.

 Intrepid Sports Reporter Samori Benjamin
 Samori and Reggie Jackson
 Interviewing Hall of Fame Yankee Reggie Jackson

 If the past is any guide to the future I suspect that this essay will have no discernable effect on your opinions about sports, as muddled as they are.   I say this because of your response to “On Race Culture and Sports;” I cannot imagine how you could have gotten less from that broadly learned treatise had you not bothered to read it at all.

If you had been assigned to read and respond to it in the Journalism and Media Studies seminar I taught at Long Island University, you would have received a failing grade. But beyond your failure to present a convincing critique that spoke to the arguments in my essay, I am genuinely puzzled at how you fail to see the beauty, grace, drama and prowess in the performance of Afro-American athletes: the greatest show on earth!   Your failure to recognize such magnificence is compelling testimony to the power of dogmatic ideology to distort reality!

It is even more puzzling that you fail to see that the real danger to the survival and progress of black youth are the decadent, self-destructive values propagated through the thug life ethos of certain genres of Rap Music!  By contrast the values propagated through sports are a God send!

Alas, as the old adage reminds us: “There are none so blind as he who refuses to see.” Although I am not in the habit of wasting my time and energy on lost causes, you insisted that I read and critique your essay….now you have it.  I sincerely hope you found it an enlightening read for I gave it my best effort….in any case, this is my last word on the subject.

 *************************

 

*See: “Thug Life,” and “Is Russell Wilson Black Enough?” ( Both on this blog)
** Hear the Coach that recruited Snoop Dog’s Son  http://www.nfl.com/videos/nfl-videos/0ap3000000469772/RES-Jim-Mora-on-recruiting-Snoop-Dogg-s-son
 Playthell G. Benjamin
On the Road
February 2, 2015

 

A Dream Deferred!

Posted in On Sports! with tags , , , on February 4, 2015 by playthell

Russell Wilson

The Little Big Man Leaves the Field: Beaten but Unbowed

 Reflections on the Super Bowl 2015

“I knew what was going to happen,” “I don’t know how I knew. I just knew. I just beat him to the point and caught the ball.” Says Malcolm Butler.

It was one of the most exciting Super Bowls I have witnessed….and I’ve seen them all.  It was a close game with grand competition and many great plays.  But because sports is what it is, a test of our physical and mental abilities on a level playing field where hard work and talent can’t be denied even by people who set up arbitrary standards for excellence, you can never predict with certainty how a game will end – who will emerge the victor or the vanquished. This is because sport has objective standards for performance and the competition to meet or exceed those standards are held in a public arena where anyone willing to pay the price of the ticket can witness it,  thus preventing foul play by corrupt cabals in back rooms who seek to fix outcomes.   In such an arena, where the pressure to win is unrelenting, greatness can arise from anywhere on the playing field.

This is clearly what happened on Sunday night in Super Bowl 2014, when two undrafted players on both sides of the ball performed on a level that might have won them co-MVP honors.  For instance, Chris Matthews, a 6’ 5” wide receiver who looks like a tight end is a compelling candidate.  Most football fans, including this writer, had never heard of Matthews before he recovered that onside kick which put Seattle in a position to win the game against Green Bay, the game that was the gateway to the Super Bowl.

A Star is Born!

USP NFL: SUPER BOWL XLIX-NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS VS S S FBN USA AZ

 A Saving Grace!
NFL: Super Bowl XLIX-New England Patriots vs Seattle Seahawks
Matthews kept the Hawks in the Game

Then Matthews,   who had never caught a pass in the NFL, came into the Super Bowl – the biggest arena in the world – and became a star right before our eyes.  Catching four passes for over a hundred yards and a touchdown, most of them spectacular, Matthews kept the Hawks in the game.   The way he was used in this game offers yet another example of the tremendous skill and football intelligence of quarterback Russell Wilson.

With his go to receivers Doug Baldwin and Jermaine Kearse covered by the great cornerback tandem of Durelle Revis and Browner, Russell turned his attention to Matthews, providing him to opportunity to make some critical plays.  It was in keeping with Russell’s contention that he functions like a point guard in basketball, whose role is to distribute the ball to the players who are in the best position to make great plays.  Wilson threw the ball all over the field and his only interception was on the final play that cost them the game.

The defensive back that picked of the ball, Malcolm Butler, is another miraculous story.  Like Matthews, he was undrafted and unheralded.  I had never heard of him either.  But if you have ever watched the program “Undrafted” on the NFL Network, you will have some idea of the hellish experience such players go through on their rocky road to the NFL. And the performance of these two players demonstrate the excellent athletic gifts some of the also ran’s possess.  However Butler, a safety on the Patriots squad, thought his career was finished after he was burned on that fantastic catch by Jermaine Kearse that put the Hawks in the red zone.  Butler recalls “I just went up and deflected it. Nine times out of 10 it usually goes away from him but as I was looking, I saw him bobble it catch it. Which was devastating.”

Jermaine Kearse’s Magical Catch

Great superbowl catch by Jermaine Kearse

Kearse’s Circus Catch put Seattle in position to win!

Many Patriot fans began to get that doomsday feeling as they remembered the fantastic catch made against them by a receiver with the New York Giants in an earlier Super bowl that they lost.  However fate would soon present Butler with an opportunity for redemption and he made the play that won the game and ascended to instant superstar status whose name is now recognized around the globe!  He tells us how he came to make such a spectacular and consequential play: “I knew what was going to happen “I don’t know how I knew. I just knew. I just beat him to the point and caught the ball.”  And with that the intuitive Malcolm Butler enters into the realm of Super Bowl heroes whose deeds in that game will last as long as football is played.

                                                                  Malcolm   Butler’s critical interception
Butler Malcolm Super Bowl Hero     
The Safety who Saved the Patriots Season

For Russell Wilson the Super Bowl loss must be especially bitter, although he is taking it graciously despite the fact that some are blaming him for the loss.  Alas, nobody is more dedicated to winning than Russell.  Fans are also second guessing the coach and declaring his play calling “the dumbest play in Super Bowl history,” yet a close viewing of the video of the play reveals that it was a clever manuever against a defence that had stacked the box to stop Marshan Lynch, who every football fan in the world expected to get the ball. But the play was foiled by a ngreat dfensive play….which is how the game goes sometimes. Other malevolent trolls, racist and garden variety haters used Russell’s decision to throw the ball as proof that they have been right along: he just doesn’t have the right stuff to be a pro-quarterback.

Astonishingly, the haters repeat this mindless jibberish despite the fact that Russell played splendidly in this game, putting his team up by ten points in the fourth quarter and coming within a footstep from winning his second Super bowl in two years!  Had Russell made the goaline throw he would have secured an honored place in the pantheon of the game’s immortals and been well on the road to the Hall of Fame.  Once again we see that both success and failure are grand imposters that can switch places in the blink of an eye!  Alas, perhaps the Gods were not with Russell on this occasion….or maybe he is the victim of an incompetent coaching decision as multitudes believe.

Nevertheless Wilson has set exceedingly high standards and lofty goals for himself.  For after all is said and done, in the end he remains the winningest quarterback in NFL history over his first three years. And despite his graciousness in the face of defeat, he hates losing.  The fact that this game was in the pocket can only make defeat worse than it otherwise might have been.   But he kept his chin up, predicted victory next year with complete confidence, then exited the stage beaten but unbowed.

*********************

See Malcolm Butler’s Interception
https://vine.co/v/OtEnVFt1eji 
See Chris Matthews Touchdown Catch
http://youtu.be/nc_SrdjqlO0

How Good is Russell Wilson?

Posted in On Sports! with tags , , , on February 1, 2015 by playthell
Russell-Wilson V
Launching the bomb with his Howitzer Arm

 They Call him Dangeruss!

Every time the question is raised regrding Russell Wilson’s standing among  today’s quarterbacks in the National Football League, whose  teams contain the greatest football players on earth, we get ambiguous prattle that damn him with faint praise like the following comment from football Sean Thomlinson of Bleacher Report: “

The human mind falls victim to recency bias far too easily, so foremost in our memories right now are Wilson’s two overtime throws that sealed an improbable comeback. It’s convenient to forget that until the 3:52 mark of the fourth quarter Wilson had eight completions, and he was the reason a series of miraculous events were needed to resuscitate title defense hopes.”

Sean offers this observation in an article titled “Russell Wilson’s Decision-Making Is a Concern Heading into Super Bowl,” where he also tells us “If Wilson’s decision-making and accuracy don’t reverse course swiftly, the Seahawks could have a repeat performance of the NFC Championship Game, just without the ending.” And to unambiguously demonstrate his point he reminds us that “Russell Wilson had a 0.0% accuracy rating under pressure in NFCCG. Just digest that. 0-of-6 with 5 sacks. Still won.” Wow!  Speak of damming with faint praise.  While the facts speak for themselves, what they actually mean depends upon how the observer interprets them; it’s the old bottle half empty or half full conundrum.

As for me, I think Thomlinson is emphasizing the wrong things.  I watched the game and what left the most lasting impression on me is the fact that Brady threw as many interceptions as Wilson when you consider the fact that two of the picks attributed to Wilson were dead on strikes but were dropped by the receivers.  And instead of overemphasizing the fact that Wilson had a bad first half, I am amazed by his poise under pressure; his never say die attitude; his ability to lift the morale of his players and inspire them to believe they can win, even as all the objective facts suggest that to continue to believe is a retreat into fantasy, and the consummate skills and superb judgment to overcome seemingly insurmountable odds and make the plays he needs to make while leading his team to victory!  That’s what left the lasting impression on me in the NFC championship game.

Russell Launches the bomb where only his reciever can get it……
Russell Wilson launching the bomb
………..And Kearse Cradles it for the Win!
Russell puts ball in Kerses arms to win
A Missile from Mr. Magic gets the W!

The more I watch young Russell Wilson the more I am convinced that he is capable of making any play the situation requires in order to win.  In an era of Fantasy Football which is obsessed with personal statistics Russell only cares about the win….which is the only statistic that matters to the entire team.  And, although many fans and commentators alike seem to forget it….winning is why you play the game!  If, as Hall of Fame coach Bill Parcells points out, “you are what the numbers say you are,” Russ has got some very good numbers.

In terms of personal records, based on the length of time he has played in the NFL nobody can boast a better one.  For instance, he tied Peyton Manning’s all-time passing record for a rookie, and he set an all-time record by rushing for over a hundred yards and passing for over three hundred yards in a single game.  His quarterback efficiency record in playoff games was higher than Aaron Roger’s coming into the 2015 NFL Championship game; he is only quarterback in the history of the League to start in two Super Bowls during his first three years, and he is the winningest quarterback ever after playing his first three seasons in the NFL.

Despite this amazing record we still have people saying crazy things like he is “just a game manager,” or “he’s not that good a passer.”  Part of this reflects the desperation of disillusioned white guys who are suffering from an overload of black dominance in football.  Like me they have witnessed professional and major college football become increasingly dominated by black athletes.  However the quarterback position – which is equivalent to a Captain of a ship. Or the commander of a combat brigade in terms of his leadership responsibilities in running the operation – remained a white boy preserve long after the other positions were being masterfully and often spectacularly played by Afro-American athletes.

There was a mythology developed around the quarterback position that only Caucasian males had the right stuff – rapid decision making, accurate passing, poise and calm in the face of charging defensive lineman, etc.  – to effectively play the quarterback position.  Fran Tarkington, the Minnesota Vikings quarterback who lost four Super Bowls announced that he though guys with “blond hair and blue eyes” made the best quarterbacks.  He was of course blue eyed with blond hair.

However Dog Williams, a black man of “deepest dye” – as the 18th century Afro-American scientists Benjamin Banneker described himself to Thomas Jefferson in a letter calling Jefferson out about a racist remark he had made regarding Africans – murdered that myth when he humiliated John Elway in a crushing defeat of the Denver Bronco’s by the Washington Reskins in the Super Bowl.  The fact that the big blond blue eyed Elway looked like a Teutonic super hero, proved no advantage as Williams went on the set nine records in the championship game.

By the time Russell Wilson entered the NFL in 2012 black quarterbacks were no longer exotic figures, the lone exception that proved the rule, and rather than denouncing the athletic mobility that black quarterbacks bring to the game, they were being celebrated as “dual threat” quarterbacks – Randall Cunningham, .“Air” McNair, Donovan McNabb, Michael Vick, Colin Kapernick, RGIII, et al.   Ironically, in the contest between John Elway and Doug Williams it was Elway that was the “duel threat” and Williams was strictly a pocket passer who has said “I don’t believe in the quarterback running the ball.”

Yet, ironically, white quarterbacks have always been celebrated for their ability to “scramble” i.e. run away from the defensive players to avoid a sack should the pocket break down before they have an open receiver to throw to without fear of in interception.  Tarkington was famous for his scrambling ability, as was Elway and Roger Stauback aka “Roger the Dodger.”  In fact Bill Belichek, the great coach of the New England Patriots who will oppose Russell in the Super Bowl, and is tasked with stopping him, recently compared Russell to Staubach who is a first ballot Hall of Famer.

The hood wearing Belichek looks like the Grim Reaper in a bad mood and is notorious as a mumbler, a man of few words, who appears to be in pain each time he utters a word, yet he has been effusive in his praise of Wilson.  After studying Wilson on film Coach Belichek said the Seattle quarterback did everything well and “seemed to have a sixth sense about where the defensive men are” and this is what enable him to make spectacular running or throwing the ball.”  However draft “experts,” like the much celebrated Mel Kiper, denounced Coach Pete Carroll and the Seattle GM for drafting Russell Wilson, who they said was a good college quarterback but had about the same chance of surviving in the pros as a snowball in a pizza oven.

Watching video of Kiper and other wise guy naysayers at the time is an unending source of amusement for me.  Especially in view of the fact that some people saw Russell for the great player that he has always proven to be.  One of those who recognized his special gifts was his coach at the University of Wisconsin, Bret Bielema. Having graduated from North Carolina State University in three years, Russell was drafted by several baseball teams and spent a year on a Major League farm team before realizing that he would rather play professional football.  Since he had a year of college football eligibility left Wilson looked around for a team with a pro-style offense then applied to the University of Wisconsin to play his final year of college football.

Aside from their pass oriented pro-style offense Wilson was attracted by their huge offensive line whose shortest member was 6’ 5” and averaged over 320 pounds.  They would have been the fourth largest line in the NFL; hence Wilson would get a chance to show that he could throw the ball accurately behind the kind of huge offensive lineman he would encounter on the professional level.  And the person who had the best view of his performance that year was his head coach Bret Bielema, who had done such an impressive job at Wisconsin that he was being wooed by the Miami Dolphins for the head coaching job.

In a recent interview Bielema say he told the Dolphin management that he would guarantee them a Super bowl victory within five years if they took his quarterback Russell Wilson in the upcoming NFL draft.  The coach recollects what happened next: “

“They all looked at me like, ‘You can’t say that. That’s the difference between college and pro. He’s undersized. He can’t throw.’  I was like, ‘OK, all right,’ and I honestly, that day, kind of pulled myself out of it.”

Russell Wilson at Wisconsin
Russell wilson at wisconsin
Russell had no problem throwing the ball behind this massive line

Bielema was so certain that Russell Wilson was going to be a star in professional football that he turned the job down because he was convinced that they didn’t have the necessary vision to produce a championship team.  Well, history has proved him right.  The dolphins drafted Ryan Tannehill and have come nowhere the Super Bowl, whereas Russell will be starting in his second Super Bowl in three years!!!  One can only speculate about the fallout from the decision to take Tannehill over Russ, the proto- typical tall stiff white guy with a big arm over the smaller dual threat black guy, but I’d bet my bottom there are some hurt feelings and puzzlement over that decision…..and I would not be surprised to discover some heads have rolled.

While Russell Wilson is not the first, nor the most spectacular duel threat quarterback in terms of size or athletic prowess – see: “Is Colin Kapernick Transracial?” on this blog – he has been the most successful.  Wilson is the only duel threat quarterback yet to win a Super Bowl, and now he is poised to do it again. His record in games against the so called “elite” quarterbacks, most of whom have won at least one Super Bowl, is 10-0!  And he may well win the 2015 Super Bowl, which would make him the only quarterback to win two Super Bowls in his first three seasons in the NFL: Russell Wilson is a baaaad boy!  That’s why they call him “Dangeruss.”

****************

Highlights at the University of Wisconsin 2012
http://youtu.be/B8r7wLnb1xc
Highlighs from Pro Career
http://youtu.be/tdxvM2FySEg
Russell Dancing with Gransma Carroll
http://youtu.be/4SzLD983ovs
The throw that won the NFC Championship
http://youtu.be/MzvsIi7p2-0
Steven A: Damming Russ with faint praise
http://youtu.be/tJMdsoH_1HA

 

Playthell G. Benjamin
Feburary 1, 2014

A Mugging in Jerry’s World!

Posted in On Sports! with tags , , on January 13, 2015 by playthell
Cardale Jones running
The Amazing Cardale Jones: A True Duel Threat Quarterback

 After winning a National Championship Cardale should Go Pro

It is not often that we are afforded an opportunity to witness history in the making; last night was an exception.  For in the National College Championship game played in the billion dollar Texas play pen euphemistically called “Jerry’s World” – because it was built by Dallas Cowboy’s owner Jerry Jones – we witnessed the making of history in the event itself and in athletic performance.  There has never been a game to determine the national championship for major college football, and there has never been a quarterback like Cardale Jones.

A month ago he was the third string quarterback sequestered in anonymity riding the pine on the Ohio State bench.  Tonight he became the winning quarterback in the First College championship game when Ohio State mugged Oregon State in full public view.  No quarterback began his college football career as the starter in the Big Ten Championship Game, and none before Cardale went on to beat the #1 team in college football, and then leading the team to victory in the Championship game.

Hence Cardale Jones should turn a deaf ear to all of those who are counseling him to stay in college.  I am amazed at some of the unsolicited advice from so-called football wise guys among sports commentators like Mike Golic, the co-host of the ESPN morning show Mike and Mike, even if they are former pro-players.  For despite their pretentions of prescience in football matters, we have too many examples of when they were wrong about the potential of players to succeed in professional football, and they are most often wrong about quarterbacks.

We need only look at the examples of Tom Brady, Joe Montana, Ryan Leaf, Jemarcus Russell, Todd Marinovitch, RGIII and Russell Wilson, et al.  Ryan Leaf was one of the most heralded college quarterbacks to enter the National Football League, everybody predicted that he would be a sensation, but he was a spectacular bust and is now serving time for having for having turned to a life of crime.  Jemarcus Russell was even more hyped and he too went bust.

In Command at the National Championship
Cardale Jones in championship Game
Cardale demonstrated that he is ready for the NFL

On the other hand Tom Brady barely made it into the league; he was drafted with the 177th pick.  He was not only unsung when he came out of Michigan but nobody expected him to get much beyond the practice squad.  Like Cardale at Ohio State, Brady was a third stringer with the New England Patriots and might never have gotten off the bench in a real game unless both the starting quarterback and the backup were sidelined due to injury, a very rare circumstance; one was just as likely to be struck by lightning.  But it did happen, Brady got a chance to play, and he didn’t lose a game…right up to the Super Bowl and a world Championship.  Cardale Jone’s college career has mirrored Brady’s experience in the pros.  One other notable example of a third stringer who has found even more spectacular success is Russell Wilson, quarterback with the reigning World Champion Seattle Seahawks.

Wilson, a great all-around athlete and outstanding young man who graduated from college in three years, was drafted by three professional baseball teams.  But after playing baseball for a year he decided that he liked football better and went back to college in order to play out his final year of eligibility. He systematically chose the University of Wisconsin because of the huge size of their offensive lineman, averaging 6’ 7” and weighting over 300 pounds.  Wilson’s intention was to answer a pressing question about his ability to perform on the professional level due to his height: the ideal pro-quarterback is 6’ 4” and above weighing at least 220 pounds.  Russell Wilson is around 5’ 11” 205 pounds.  Thus despite an impressive winning record in major college football he was drafted in the third round and destined to play on the practice squad.

However Russell was so impressive when he went to camp with the Seahawks he won the starting job in practice before the season began!   This was unprecedented in professional football, especially since they had just signed Mike Flynn as the starting quarterback for ten million dollars.  Over the last three seasons Russell Wilson has won more games than any quarterback in the history of the NFL over the same period of time.

He has also set some all-time records – such as passing for over 300 yards and rushing for over a hundred in a single game.  Yet many teams passed over him because of his size.  But John Gruden, the former Super Bowl winning coach and astute evaluator of quarterback talent as host of the television show Gruden’s Quarterback Camp, predicted that Russell would be great after working him out and interviewing him to assess his football skills physically and intellectually.  He also predicted that the teams that passed over him would live to regret it….and history has proven him right.

I am going to make a similar prediction about Cardale Jones: If he enters the draft he will be chosen, and when provided an opportunity to play he will emerge as a star in the National Football League.  My certainty on this question stands on firmer ground than that of the Supreme Court Justice who said although he couldn’t define pornography “I know it when I see it.”   In the case of Cardale Jones, I not only know that he is the real thing from just watching him play, I can also define the things that contribute to his greatness.

He is 6’ 5” and weighs between 250 – 260 pounds.  He has such a powerful throwing arm that his team mates nicknamed him “12 gage” because it reminds them of a shotgun.  Not only can he throw the ball 70 yards with the accuracy of a rifle with a flick of the wrist standing in the pocket or on the run.  Hence he is a true “dual threat” quarterback who can tuck the ball away and run with speed, power and elusiveness.  He obviously has a high football I.Q. based on the sound split second decisions he makes about when and where to throw the ball and when to run with it. And his poise in the pocket – i.e. grace under pressure – is worthy of an experienced NFL quarterback.  These are the tools of the trade that successful pro quarterbacks have employed.

Despite these obvious and indisputable assets, there is a chorus of naysayers who argue that Cardale should stay in college.  The reasons they give all sound like spurious nonsense to me.   The least convincing of these is that he should not enter the draft because we have not seen enough of his college play to get a solid sample of his abilities since he has only played in three games.  Here we have serious confusion between quality and quantity. When Professor Frederick Jackson Turner wrote his now famous treatise on the formation of American character “The Significance of the Frontier in American History,” the gravitas of his argument was such that nobody was willing to dismiss it because it expressed a game changing view of American society in a paper of only 13 pages rather than a book of a thousand.  Sometimes it does not require an extended view in order to recognize greatness.

When I look at Cardale Jones I think of my grandfather, who was an excellent tailor who learned his craft on London’s famous Saville Row, which is reputed to turn out the best tailors in the world.  He was so good at it that he was in charge of the entire coat making division for Botany 500, which produced the finest suit one could buy “off the rack” anywhere in America.  The fact that he had hundreds of white tailors working under him – whom he hired and fired – in a racist American society where a black tailor could hardly get a job on this level attests to his mastery of the tailor’s trade.   One day he was talking about how he assessed the quality of the tailors who applied for jobs.  “They all think that I make my decision based on how they cut the pattern,” Pop said, “but I can tell what quality of tailor they are by the way they balance the scissors.”

That’s how I feel about Cardale Jones, and talent scout worth his hire should be able to see his greatness on the three games he played in college; if the can’t tell what quality of professional quarterback he will make they should find another line of work.  To those who argue  that he lacks experience and thus is unprepared to lead an NFL team just now I say: so what?  For most of the history of the NFL young quarterbacks were expected to sit and observe a master at work for about three tears; it is only recently that rookies have been expected to start.

Quarerbacks were chosen on the basis of their talent and the potential it represente.  Most of the Hall of Fame quarterbacks did not start as rookies, and a prospect who promised a decade or more as a great starting quarterback is a damn good bet; the kind of pick that could make a coach and General Manager’s career.  Cordale Jones was pitted against this year’s Heisman winning quarterback Marcus Mariota – who was being discussed as possibly the #1 pick in the draft, over the sensational Florida State quarterback Jamis Winston, last year’s Heisman winner and quarterback of the national champions whom the Ducks blew out in the first round of the playoff competitions –   and he looked like a grown man competing with teenage boy.  I believe Jones is a superstar waiting in the wings; he is ready to perform on the big stage in prime time.  Despite what the so-called football wise guys say, I predict that Cardale Jones will be drafted in the first round should he enter the draft.

I am also convinced that he would be one of the biggest fools the Gods ever blew breath in should he return to Ohio State.  There is no upside to it, he has already declared in a tweet that he came to Ohio to play football and he has been here and done that splendidly.  There is nothing more to be gained by staying in college; he can get a degree when his pro football career is over, as he will still be a young man and rich enough to do whatever he wants in life.  Alas, football is a violent and dangerous game in which a career can be ended in a single hit; hence it is folly to play one more down of college football…let alone another season. And if I were Cordale I would throw my hat in the ring, kiss college goodbye – where he is making millions for the colleges and coaches – take the money and run!

 A True Duel Threat.

Cardale Jones - assing

He can sling the ball all over the field accurately
And he is a great runner…
Cardale Jones, Champion 
 That can run around you….or over you!

********************

Playthell G. Benjamin
Harlem, New York
Janurary 13, 2014

Is Russell Wilson Black Enough?  

Posted in Cultural Matters, On Sports! with tags , , on November 9, 2014 by playthell
121213124025-russell-wilson-single-image-cut
Super Bowl Champion and Quintessential Dual Threat Quarterback

 Who is Blacker: Smart Afro-Americans or dumbass Niggas?

In the aftermath of the sudden release of highly touted wide receiver Percy Harvin from the world champion Seattle Seahawks football team, we hear some black members of the Seahawks think that their superstar quarterback who led them to a Super Bowl victory last year “ain’t black enough.”   This charge was first reported by Mike Freeman, an Afro-American sports writer who does not name names but who is considered a reliable source by his peers in the sports writing fraternity such as ESPN’s Stephan A. Smith and Skip Bayless, two of the best in the business.   A clearly frustrated Stephen A made a heroic effort to explain how and why some misguided black players could make such an embarrassingly stupid comment on his daily TV show co-hosted with Bayless: First Take. 

Alas, Stephen A is a sports reporter and thus his comments, although valid, suffered from an inadequate knowledge of history and sociology which a thorough understanding of this question demands.  He is certainly right when he attributes anti-Wilson animosity partially to the jealousy felt by players who do not enjoy the adulation that is heaped on Wilson by the press, fans and management; which is a result of how Wilson carries himself on and off the field.  He is not only hands down the best player on that super talented team he is also the most impressive personality, displaying an embarrassment of riches in intelligence, eloquence and old school elegance of style and manner.

When I was playing high school football in the 1950’s a guy like Russell Wilson would have been roundly revered by me and my team mates; he is everything that we would have wanted a black star athlete to be…especially a quarterback!  The rap on black men back then was that we were not smart enough to play quarterback because of the rapid analysis and cool decision making under pressure the position required.  Hence a feeling of intense pride in Russell would have been universal!

This begs the rather obvious question: What happened over the last 50 years that radically changed the values of a considerable segment of black America so that the ignorant, inarticulate, blinged out brute is now preferable to an elegant, articulate, gentleman from a great Afro-American family like Russell Wilson.  Obviously an in-depth exegesis on this question is beyond the scope of a single essay – and also the attention span of the Facebook generation who are accustomed to reading brief, semiliterate, graffiti – hence I shall venture a capsule explanation that will at least identify the major elements of the problem.

Reduced to its lowest terms we can sum up the problem as a consequence of the collapse of the nuclear family structure that left far too many poorly educated, poverty stricken, single mothers to raise their sons with little or no involvement from their fathers – who are often ignorant, impoverished teenagers who know as much about parenting as a mule knows about playing the fiddle.  Then there was the great Civil Rights revolution that destroyed the de-jure caste system and the racially restrictive housing covenants that was a fundamental feature of the apartheid system in America and forced Afro-Americans of all classes to reside in the same neighborhoods.

This development dramatically exacerbated the class divide in the black community by freeing middle and upper class Afro-Americans to live wherever their incomes could afford, and opened up myriad opportunities to the educated and talented beyond the black community, which they were no longer confined by law and custom to serving exclusively.  Hence the caliber of community leadership I grew up under no longer existed when the present generation of young Afro-Americans came of age.

Alas, the class of men and women who set the high standards we were expected to achieve and the institutions molded by their vision and values – black church, schools, nuclear family, coaches, etc – which shaped the character of Russell Wilson, Jackie Robinson, Walter Payton, Jerry Rice, myself, and legions of other upstanding black men was gone by the time many of today’s athletes came of age.  Hence instead of listening to the wise counsel of black fathers, teachers, coaches and preachers, they took their notions of Manhood from Tupac, Biggie, Lil Wayne, Master P. Sleezy E. Schooly D, Too Live Crew, Fitty Cents, and the like.  The result is both obvious and horrifying.

For instance, my generation was taught to aim for the stars and always put our best face forward when in public because we were representing our race, whether we chose to or not that was how it was.  This instruction was accompanied by the admonishment to  “never cut the fool in public” because it served to confirm the worse racist slander about us, which would surely be used to justify our oppression, and under no circumstances call another Afro-American a “nigger” in public!  It is obvious that many young Afro-Americans were never taught these things by anyone: not their parents, teachers or church.  That these young people were failed by these basic institutions, and thus the socialization process by which a culture indoctrinates their children with its most cherished values, was distorted and thwarted.

Alas, these failures do much explain why some of the present generation of black players in the NFL is presently fighting for the right to call themselves “niggas” on one of the largest stages in the world after the NFL banned its use and is levying penalties and fines at violators.  And some black players with the Miami Dolphins franchise sided with a white racist bully and borderline criminal Richie Incognito against Afro-American player Johnathan Martin, a well-spoken Stanford Grad with highly educated parents like Russell Wilson, because they said Incognito was “blacker” and “more of a brother” than Martin.  And thus, in their considered opinion, it’s cool for Incognito to call them “niggers.”

Well, I don’t argue with people who proudly announce that they are niggas, since I cannot be more royal than the king, so I have only to say that they are some of the dumbest niggas the Gods ever blew the breath of life in!  The question for the black community is which model of manhood we want for our young men: Russell Wilson and Johnathon Martin, or Tupac, Lil Wayne, fitty Cents and their thugged out “niggas?  Who would you rather have for a son or son-in-law?

And compliments about what good businessmen they are is no argument in favor of their values; for some of the richest businessmen in the world are criminals! It does not require a mastermind to figure out that you cannot build a healthy, life enhancing, society based upon thug values. As Dr. DuBois pointed out over a century ago, “If you just teach people to make money you will produce money makers but not men.”  Civilization is about something far different and much more….and that is what is at stake here.

 ***************

 The nature of athletic talent is such that, like all of “God’s” gifts, it is spread out among every segment of the population.   Hence we get some highly educated athletes and more than a few muscle heads who know little else besides sports.  However due to the incredible amount of time and hard work even the most gifted athletes must invest in a sport in order to succeed on the professional level, we find more players from lower and middle income backgrounds than the scions of the plutocrats.  This is the natural result of young men from the privileged classes having many more avenues to success and thus don’t have to gamble on something as fragile and elusive as a career in professional sports.

This partially explains why in the sports of football and basketball, which attract the largest audiences and generate big dollars, the majority of the players are Afro-American.  It is also due to physical gifts that are tailor made for these sports, and the dedicated work ethic of hundreds of thousands of talented young men who view these sports as their ticket out of poverty and into the great American dream of incredible wealth and celebrity – a dramatic transition in life style that literally happens overnight.

Alas, a lifetime of preparation and anticipation for success in professional sports does nothing to prepare young men from impoverished backgrounds to handle this new life of sudden affluence. And strangely enough most colleges don’t offer courses or guidance counselling on how to handle the next stage of their lives.  That’s why so many of them cut the fool, squander their money, and wind up at the end of their athletic careers scuffling to try and maintain some semblance of the lifestyle they enjoyed during their playing years.

Since many of these players did not receive the education promised to them by the colleges they attended, which would have mitigated some of the deficits of their class backgrounds, many leave college with the same essential values they entered them.  They came from neighborhoods where education and good manners were not valued; a sub-culture where poverty and ignorance is the norm, out of wedlock births are common fare and most people value toughness over intelligence. And they bring their “Hood Rat” values with them into the world of professional sports.

Having grown up in the kind of urban wastelands described by Dr. William Julius Wilson in his path breaking sociological studies – “The Truly Disadvantaged” and “When Work Disappears”- where the presence of strong, loving, intelligent fathers are absent from the majority of homes these young men have to figure out how to be a man on their own, or seek the counsel of other fatherless, clueless, peers.

For many of these young men that now fill the rosters of professional football teams those peers  were rappers like Tupac Skehur, a young man who was so confused about the meaning of manhood that even fame and wealth could not prevent him from self-destructing.  Yet Tupac still inspires a group of devotees among black and Hispanic males that approaches the status  of reverence for a guru or demi-God who spoke some divine truth.   For an analysis of how Tupac Shekur’s thug life philosophy helped put former New England Patriot star tight end Aron Hernandez behind bars possibly for the rest of his life for committing multiple murders read “Thug Life” on this blog.

The same self-destructive tendencies, although far less dangerous to the rest of society,  can be clearly seen in former basketball great Allen Iverson – who refused to grow up and shed his B-Boy demeanor even after he became a big star and had millions in the bank, or Mike Tyson, who squandered 250 million dollars before he was thirty!  Lacking education and thus the rich internal life and moral compass it provides, these young men make a fetish of money in the false belief that it can bring instant and permanent gratification.  Hence they are solely concerned with making a living rather than making a life.  Alas, they do not seem to even recognize that there is a difference between the two even when they can sense there is something missing in their lives.

The great prize fighter Floyd Mayweather is an excellent example of this.  One need only watch the numerous You Tube videos that provide us unprecedented access to his lifestyle outside the ring.  One gets the impression that he is trying to make up for all of the depravations that he suffered as a child, which he provides in harrowing detail in numerous recollections, as he showers himself in expensive toys and pretty girls far beyond what a mature well balance grown up would need to feel real. One gets the impression that everybody around him is on payroll, paid flunkies not real friends, and the thoughtful observer must ask what would Floyd be without the money and bling?

Hence among this crowd of rich but spiritually impoverished and psychologically wounded young celebrities material affluence is their measure of a man; education holds such a low priority that Floyd’s former ace boon coon “Fitty Cents” says that Floyd can’t read!  Fitty even challenged him in an online video to publicly read a page from a Harry Potter book, after which Fitty pledged to give $750, 000 to any charity designated by Floyd! Despite the opportunity to give a gift of three quarters of a million dollars to say, The National Negro College Fund, Floyd, who has given himself the sobriquet “Money” Mayweather, refused the challenge and responds to his critics by flashing stacks of dollar bills of large denominations and announcing that he is worth “500 million liquid!”

It does not seem to occur to Mayweather that the reason so many celebrities go from rags to riches to rags is because they were not smart enough to manage their money and keep track of it.  And in any case, what kind of example is that to set for his children….whom from every indication he loves dearly.  What does it say to them about the value of getting an education?  With a role model like him how are they to come to the understanding that in making a great life – as opposed to a merely a good living – education, not material possessions, is the most valuable thing one can acquire.

The idea that having money is an adequate substitute for an absence of intelligence is a fairly recent phenomenon in the Afro-American community.  When I was growing up acquiring a great education was at the top of the black community’s value system.  Hence the eloquent well-educated Jackie Robinson was the preferred role model for most Afro-American parents over the uneducated Willy Mayes who spoke with a “country Bama” accent, or the mumbling Heavy-Weight Joe Louis, despite their great admiration for him as a pugilist and a man.  However there was a big difference between Joe Louis, Willie Mayes and many of today’s young black athletes: They did not celebrate lumpen values like “thug life.”  In their day people who flaunted rolls of cash money were hustlers who were dismissed by people with real money as “nigger rich,” a joke.  Today we have a new and bizarre phenomenon: really rich Afro-Americans who behave like Niggas!

 Floyd and Fitty: Rich Self proclaimed filth rich “Niggas.”
Floyd and Fitty
How long before these niggas and their money part?
 Sonny Liston and wife dining with arch-opponent Muhammad Ali
Ali and Liston
Back in the Day, before Niggas starting to set the standards

The old school Afro-Americans and Athletes presented themselves in style and manners as gentlemen and responsible citizens that their fellow Afro-Americans could take pride in.  They would have been shocked and scandalized by rich and famous young black men choosing street thugs as their role models!  Even the vicious boxer Sonny Liston – who unlike the Hip Hop play-play gangstas had been a real thug that had formerly been an enforcer for the St. Louis mob – wanted no part of the thug image after he became World Heavy-Weight Champion.  And he said as much in an interview with Ebony Magazine, where he pointed out that he was a married man with a daughter and he wanted her to feel proud of him.

Jackie Robinson: Calvary Officer and Gentleman
jackie-robinson- Calvery Officer
 UCLA Grad, Four Sport Athlete, Baseball Legend, Corporate Executive, Freedom fighter

The reverence for education in the black southern community I grew up in had deep roots in our history.  Reports of former slaves flocking to any school that was available to them in the aftermath of slavery during the 1860’s are common fare in the accounts of educators from the period.  Frederick Douglass considered education so important that he risked death in order to learn to read when he was a slave, and once he escaped slavery and gained a measure of freedom he became one of the best spoken and accomplished writers in America: and he achieved this on his own!

Describing the aftermath of Civil war and Emancipation Dr. W. E. B. DuBois tells us in his masterpiece Black Reconstruction, “A whole race went to school.” Dr. DuBois considered education so critical to the freedom and development of Afro-Americans that he called for the development of a highly educated “Talented Tenth” to arise and lead the masses of Afro-Americans away from “the worst in their own and other races.”   This advice was taken to heart and the leaders of the black community who answered the call to uplift the race took charge of the black community, filled its pulpits and ran its schools all preached the value of education!

One of the virtues of education was to impart values that would serve help to advance one in a racist society that portrayed Afro-Americans in the organs of popular culture as fools and buffoons; a tradition that reached its apotheosis in the wildly popular blackface minstrel shows. Hence one was to present oneself in public as well spoken and well dressed – elegance complimenting eloquence. And these values took deep root.

Indeed Frederick Douglass had set the standard; as a man who spent his life as an advocate for oppressed black people in America, during and after slavery, he had an acute understanding of the importance of public perception of the race.  In fact he considered it so important in the struggle for equality in American society that he mastered the art of oratory and became arguably the best dressed man in America!  And he enlisted the practitioners of the budding art of photography to splash his image all over the public arena, by some estimates he was the most photographed man in 19th century America.  (See: Through a Lens Darkly: Black Photographers and the Emergence of a People” on this blog.) 

Frederick Douglass
Frederick_Douglass_by_Samuel_J_Miller,_1847-52
He set the standard for black male elegance in America

Thus it is no surprise when we behold the elegant style and eloquent speech of Duke Ellington, who bewitched audiences around the world and hobnobbed with royalty in places where few white Americans would have been admitted.  And in so doing he enhanced the stature of black people around the world by the power and dignity of his presentation of himself and his great orchestra, whose music was an extension of his style and personality.

 Edward Kennedy Ellingtom: Superstar!
Duke+Ellington - paragon of elegance
An Elegant Gentlemen Virtuoso instrumentalist and prolific composer !

People came from all over the world to hear his concerts.  I had the good fortune to attend a party at Dukes place one evening after a big concert at the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts in New York, and the variety of people there was fascinating.  They represented several races and included artists of various stripes, assorted intellectuals and European Aristocrats; since I regarded my presence there as an event of historic importance to me, I of course wrote an account of the affair. (See: “An Evening with Edward Kennedy Ellington,” on this blog.)  In Ellington’s day all Americans danced, dined and made love to his poignant musical portraits celebrating the grace and beauty of   Afro-American women such as: Sophisticated Lady, Satin Doll, Black and Tan Fantasy, etc.

 Today these celebrations of black women have been replaced by the notorious “bitches and hos” of HIP Hop fame, which is the only music many young black males listen to and now defines them around the world.  And it is the portrait of black American culture and character that they are referring to in deciding who is really black….”A FOR REAL NIGGA!” Anyone who cannot recognize that that this development represents a decadent and dangerous trend in Afro-American popular culture, a precipitous decline in taste and judgment, is a part of the problem.  The extent of the problem was driven home to me when I was seated next to a young black man on a bus trip through the South where I informally interviewed people about their reactions to the recent election of Barack Obama as the first African-American President of the United States.

 Is this what we want as role models for our sons?
lil-wayne-photo
Many young black men look up to this symbol of cultural decadence as a source of wisdom

When I put the question to the young brother, he sat there looking like a clown with his baseball cap cocked at an angle where it was hard to see if he was coming or going from a distance.  “Well that’s cool old school,” he said….but Barack just ain’t street enough.”   My first impulse was to slap his cap straight and then drop some science on his silly ass, but I decided to just school the kid instead.  I told him that the only thing the “streets” could prepare him for is to be a rapper, go to jail…or the graveyard.  By the time I got through he was so embarrassed he got off the bus at the next stop.  Tis a pity that there is no wise older man in the life of these boys to help clarify their confusions and put them on the right track, because the values they hold will lead them to self-destruct even after they achieve their goals of wealth and fame.

Most black football players know but little about the history of Afro-Americans in the game of football and display even less interest in finding out – a natural consequence of having slept through or cut history classes – hence they do not know that the first Afro-American greats in the game of football were Ivy League graduates. (See: “On Race Culture and Sports” on this blog) Perhaps the greatest of these early footballers was Paul Robeson, who tutored his white Rutgers classmates in Greek and Latin while starring in four sports and graduating Valedictorian of the class!  Upon graduation Paul played in the first professional football league formed in the US, where he teamed up with Fritz Pollard – an Afro-American  graduate of Brown University and the first “duel threat” quarterback in professional football – and they went undefeated.

However racism and financial problems prompted Robeson to go back to school and earn a law degree from Columbia University, but he soon abandoned a racist legal profession and went on to become a world renowned concert singer performing the sacred songs of our enslaved ancestors – that beautiful body of music Dr. DuBois called “The Sorrow Songs -” as well as one an accomplished Shakespearean actor who performed in the US and Europe, breaking all records for a Shakespeare play on Broadway.  One wonders what the black football players who say Russell Wilson ain’t black enough would think of a man like Paul Robeson.

This question goes to the heart of the matter and the cultural state of black America can be gauged by it.  It is more than reasonable to suspect that the people who think Russell “ain’t black enough” would surely have felt the same way about Paul.  When asked about the comment Russell said “I don’t know what they are talking about,” and neither would Paul Robeson, whose father had escaped from slavery, acquired a college degree, and personally taught him Greek and Latin.

Big Paul Robeson of Rutgers
Paul Robeson - All American
Scholar Athlete Par Excellence
Paul_Robeson 
 Lawyer and Freedom Fighter

Paul robeson and Peggy AshcroftWorld Renowned Concert singer and great Shakespearian Actor
 Hanging out with his friend Albert Eienstein
Paul Robeson and Albert Einstein
 The World’s Greatest Scientist
 Fritz Pollard: the first Dual Threat Quarterback
Fritz Pollard_Throw
Frederick Douglass Pollard was also the first Black Professional Coach
After football he went on to publish a Newspaper and became an entertainment agent 
Friz Pollard II
He also started  the first black owned investment banking firm

Well, rumor has it that the comment questioning Russell’s Black Quotient came from running back Marshan Lynch; which would be easily understandable because aside from football Russ and Marshan have nothing in common but skin color, and since Russ is tan and Lynch is darker one is tempted to conclude that’s what Lynch was referring to.  But I think not.  Considering the context I am convinced that he was mainly talking about Russell’s style and manner, his values and aspirations. If that’s the case, would to God that he was referring to a pigmentocracy where blackness was graded on a scale of light and dark, a reversal of the old “paper bag” and “blow hair syndromes,” for we have survived color schisms in the past…but cultural and moral decadence will destroy us.

The greatest danger to the survival of black males in America is not white racists, and that includes those who wear police uniforms; rather it is the growing inculcation of a vision of manhood defined by the ability to coldly afflict violence on an adversary who is almost always black like them…and show no remorse.  This value system is embedded in a popular culture which celebrates ignorance and bad taste as if they were virtues.  The evidence is abundant; you can hear it on countless rap records that celebrate “Thug Life,” and witness it in the tragic self-destructive behavior of confused young men like Aron Hernandez. Those who argue otherwise are either charlatans, fools, or the human equivalent of ostriches that refuse to pull their head out of their ass and take a good look at what is really going on.  For instance, much fuss is made over the “Stop and Frisk” policy initiated by former Mayor Blumberg in New York City, it is widely portrayed by black community activist and the white liberal/ left as a sinister racist plot against young black men.

Since I grew up in the apartheid South during the 1940’s and 50’s I know how white racist mayors react to blacks murdering blacks: They didn’t give a shit!!!  They wouldn’t even dispatch an extra squad car to stop it let alone spend millions of city dollars on a Stop and Frisk operation!  Since most of the people who are speaking the loudest in this debate make their arguments without the benefit of historical perspective they lack any basis for comparative analysis, and their arguments suffer because of it. I have consistently argued that this point of view is transparent nonsense that avoids the main issue: The havoc inflicted on the black community by armed black criminals committing murder and mayhem 24/7!

In comparison to those wounded and killed from black criminals, the number of black men killed by white police appears to be few and far between.  Furthermore we can control the behavior of the police just by adding body cameras and changing the rules of engagement – All of these issues are thoughtfully discussed and statistically demonstrated in several essays on the subject See: “Mend it Don’t End It” on this blog – but how to turn our youths away from a seductive popular culture that romanticizes lumpen criminal behavior and makes it the standard for black authenticity is a far more perplexing problem.

Furthermore, the highly publicized violent antics of the niggas which the world can see on You Tube – check out the links below to videos showing armed young black criminals brandishing their assault weapons, which are illegal for police to carry, and bragging about the havoc they are wreaking on the black community just for the thrill of it – causes white Americans to side with the police when unarmed black men are murdered by the police.   Hence this criminal class has put law abiding young black men in a double bind: caught in crossfire between the cops and the robbers.  If we do not soon come up with a solution, these self-destructive tendencies will destroy far more young black people than white racist violence in the 20th century ever did!

Already the numbers of black men killing black men has greatly exceeded the number of black men killed by white racist violence during the height of the lynching phenomenon, the most intense period of white on black violence in American history – 1880 to 1915.  Since I have given the numbers in previous essays published on this blog I shan’t belabor the issue here, but if you really wish to understand the period to which I am referring read “The Negro in American Life and History: The Nadir” by the outstanding Afro-American historian Rayford Logan. It would be an enlightening experience to read this book, it will change your views about American society and race relations, but trust me, I’m right on the figures!

These are sad facts indeed, but to shirk our duty to confront them honestly and seriously is to betray both an ancestral imperative to continue the struggle to uplift the race, and the first law of nature: The instinct for self-preservation.  It is instructive to note that African descendants elsewhere in the American diaspora have virtually disappeared after having played a vital role in the history and culture of the nation.  The story of Afro-Argentinians is the most poignant case in point.  During the 19th century when the nation was constantly at war Argentina sent forth it’s “Black Legions” composed of conscripted Afro-Argentinian men who were either fighting to escape slavery or prison, and they were slaughtered in vast numbers.

The black women were forced to marry men of other races because available black men become so scarce.  The government encouraged large scale immigration of Italian men and encouraged them to take black women.  Hence by the 20th century a popular slogan arose in the Argentine: “There are no blacks in Argentina.”   The strongest evidence of the once prominent presence is the national music they gave the nation: The Tango.  To read about this intriguing and tragic story see: “Tango: A History of the Dance of Love,” by Dr. Robert Farris Thompson, Professor of Art History and Dean of African Civilization at Yale, and “The Negro in Argentina,” University of Florida Press.  Also see the section on Argentina in Professor Henry Louis Gates’s PBS series “Black in Latin America.”

While it is nearly impossible to imagine the physical disappearance of Afro-Americans, who have also fought in all of our nation’s wars and left an indelible print on American culture, it is quite possible to envision a scenario in which a large segment of black men become obsolete in a knowledge based economy based on a Darwinian ethic that is red of tooth and claw and only the fit will survive. One could convincingly argue that we are well into the beginning stages of such an economy.

Hence in a predatory privately owned corporate dominated economy that prizes intelligence, competence and good interpersonal skills young black men whose characters are formed by a lumpen culture that prizes antithetical values are doomed to a life of unemployment and jail…unless life is prematurely ended in the grave yard.  Already there are far more young black men in jail than in college, and what is worse it is a badge of honor for many of them!

Hall of Fame basketball star Charles Barkley, from whom I have rarely heard an intelligent comment unrelated to sports, was moved to speak out on the  reason why some black players on the Sea Hawks might not think Russell Wilson is black enough during a recent radio interview – a clip of which is embedded at the bottom of this essay.  Although Barkley greatly overgeneralizes when speaking of the black community’s failings, albeit he does make some attempt to correct it, he speaks frankly to white radio host Anthony Garano, who was thoroughly puzzled by why any black player would hate on Russell Wilson.

“Young black kids, when they do well in school the loser kids tell them ‘you are acting white.’  The kids who speak intelligently they tell them ‘you are acting white.’  So it’s a dirty dark secret in the black community and one of the reasons that we are never going to be successful as a whole because of other black people.  For some reason we are brainwashed to believe that if you are not a thug or an idiot you are not black enough!  If you go to school, speak intelligently and not break the law you are not a good black person.  It’s a dirty dark secret in the black community Anthony.  We are the only race or ethnic group who tell people if you don’t have street cred, that means you have been arrested, like that’s a compliment.  We are the only ethnic group who says ‘hey, if you been to jail it gives you street cred.”

Of course, Charles Barkly is not very deep in his analysis, but he knows some self-destructive shit when he sees it.  As of this writing Barkley’s interview has nearly a half million hits on You Tube, and over 700 comments.  Since this is such a painful discussion for self-respecting, law abiding, educated, successful Afro-Americans to hear it is predictable that Barkley would be attacked as a “sell-out” and “Tom.”  But even if this is true as a general proposition – and I offer no opinion on that account since I do not follow his affairs closely – what Barkley is saying here has the ring of truth regarding an increasingly large portion of Afro-American youths.  I do not have exact statistics on this but I know that whatever the actual percentage is it is far too large!

Not all of the respondents disagreed with Barkley.   Of course the white racist loved it because it confirmed all of their racist “fakelore” about black people – as the great writer and cultural critic Albert Murray calls it in his masterpiece “The Omni-Americans” – which no doubt compelled some black listeners to attack him, but others thought he was just telling it like it is.  A Ms. Tosh, who is visually black, responded:

“I agree with Charles Barkley 100% and I never liked this man before….until now!!! He is absolutely right and for those Blacks on here who are saying that he’s a coon and denying that the Black community have dark secrets, then you never listened to what this gentleman said. It is a fact that there are far too many Blacks who belittle other Blacks if they speak intelligently, obtain a college degree, own a business, get married, don’t have any kids, and didn’t go to prison. If you are not pro hair hats, then you’re labeled a sellout or an uppity Black b*tch who think that she’s better than the rest. I have personally witnessed this far too many times with these mentally enslaved Blacks, all of what Charles is stating. The #1 enemy for Black people are BLACK people. The #2 enemy of Black people are White people. The #3 enemy for Black people is stupidity. #1 and #3 are me being redundant. I apologize for the redundancy”

One of the tell-tale clues as to who is authentically black among this swelling lumpen crowd is that they do not speak standard English, and they dress like rappers because evidently no one they trust has managed to convince them that the only people who can make a living dressed like that is rappers!  And as that Hip Hop head in the White House, Chilly B. Knowledge, done told them: “We can’t all be Lil Wayne!”  You can look around any black community and find them easily enough….they seem to be everywhere.  And they, in the hearts and minds of too many black youths, are the “real black people” ….  “These niggas keep it real!”  Unlike squares like Obama, these niggas got “Street Cred.”  It is an absurd and self-destructive philosophy of life.

Based on these standards it does not require more than a casual glance at the Seattle Sea Hawks football team to see who is the “realest nigga on the squad,” and it ain’t Russ, who is the antithesis of all that.  Wilson comes from several generations of highly educated successful professional Afro-Americans.  He was born and raised in Richmond Virginia, the home of the late great Tennis champion and eminent sports historian Arthur Ashe, who was no doubt one of Russell’s role models.

Arthur Ashe is the only black person whose statue reposes on the Avenue of Heroes in down town Richmond Virginia, the former capital of the slaveholding Confederacy, right alongside all of the generals and leaders of the Confederate States of America, those beloved southerners who committed treason against the USA in order to keep black Americans in the chains of slavedom.

Arthur Ashe

Arthur Ashe Statue II
Scholar, Athlete, Officer and Gentleman

Ashe’s statue is unique as a sports monument because he has a tennis racket in one hand and a book in the other.  It symbolizes what Ashe believed about black youths and sports.  After completing a three volume history of Afro-American athletes, Arthur was asked how he would sum up what he had learned from all of his research during an appearance on a national television show: “I would advise black youths to spend most of their time studying their books because they are going to outrun and out jump everybody else anyway.”

There are many examples of this but Paul Robeson is the quintessential example. The personification of the Greek ideal of mind/body perfection he was a star at Baseball, basketball, track and football and was still elected to the Phi Beta Kappa Honor Society.  John Wideman, an All-American basketball player at the prestigious University of Pennsylvania, where he won a much coveted Benjamin Franklin Scholarship which was awarded on a statewide basis and paid all of his expenses.

Wideman turned down a chance to play professional basketball in favor of a Rhodes Fellowship that provided an opportunity to do graduate study at Oxford. Wideman has since gone on to become one of the greatest 20th century American writers, whose works have inspired an international community of scholars that have devoted their academic careers to the critical study and teaching of his many works. It is officially known as “The John Wideman Society.”

Paul Robeson however played for a brief period in the first professional football league on a team quarterbacked by Fritz Pollard – an Afro-American and Brown graduate  who was also a college All-American like Robeson.  They went undefeated!!!!  Then Robeson left the gridiron and took a degree from Columbia Law School.  After briefly practicing law Robeson became a world renowned concert singer and Shakespearian actor whose performances of Othello on Broadway broke all attendance records.  And he accomplished all of this in an openly racist world where racial discrimination was legal; which is why he became a militant activist who fought racism and oppression all over the world!  He is one of the greatest black men in history!   Yet I would venture a guess that those ignorant black hood rats who are hatin on Russ never heard of Robeson, and based on the criteria by which Russell Wilson has been judged by them Big Paul wasn’t “black enough” either.

The magnitude of this problem and the danger it represents to the survival and progress of black America ought to be clear to every reader by now.  Russell Wilson: great athlete in two sports, record setting quarterback of the Super Bowl Champions, graduated from college in three years, eloquent, charming, elegant of style, upstanding citizen, ideal role model for ALL American youths – especially black males – who want to succeed at anything in life because his values and approach to life will work in any field: simply the best the country has to offer!

Like his homie Arthur Ashe -a soft spoken military officer, gentleman and scholar who also happened to be a world champion athlete – I am certain that Russ, who intends to follow his deceased father and hero into the legal profession, will continue to be a credit to Afro-Americans just as his family has been for generations.  But he is spurned by some black team mates as a phony because he has no “street cred” and is therefore: not “black enough.”

Is this Black enough for yhall dumb Asses?
Russell-jayz-beyonce-russel-wilson-basketball-game-1
“I don’t know what they are talking about” says Russell

Yet all the arbiters of niggerism agree that Marshan Lynch is “A FOR REAL NIGGER.” And just what, pray tell, are Mr. Lynch’s qualifications for this honorific?  Well from all appearances he is certainly inarticulate and fairly empty headed, in fact he seems terrified whenever a microphone is put in his face for comment.  On the face of it we can see that he is squandering opportunities to use his football stardom off the field, which will become very important after his playing days are over, which could be with the next hit since he is a running back.

In fact his style of attack is such that it will almost guarantee a relatively short career. He will not last 1ast 16 years like Walter Peyton, let alone 20 years like the great Jerry Rice.  This is partially the reason why the Sea Hawks are reluctant to give him the big contract he is asking for and based on past performance apparently deserves.  But I believe that his attitude and character also has much to do with management’s decision.

Although Lynch is notoriously silent with the media, we are provided some revealing glances into his personality and character in several videos where he unintentionally opens himself up to scrutiny.  One of these is the video “Hooker Boy Filmz Presents Marshan Lynch,” where he is seen strolling through the streets of Oakland and Settle Washington with his homies while rappers shout in the background “Beast Mode Bitch! All my Niggas yelling Marshan Lynch!”  If we had any doubts about his fascination with the “Thug Life” this video leaves no doubt.  At one point in the beginning of the film he talks about how he hosts a football camp for the kids in Oakland on a weekend during the summer, however the next minute we see him shouting “you bitch!” at a woman driving by in a SUV because she wouldn’t stop for the great Marshan Lynch.

Since every other word out of their mouths is a curse one wonders what sort of values they will teach kids in a football camp.  When he talks about his camp the focus is all about identifying pro-football prospects and putting them on the road to the NFL, with college being a short stop to better prepare for a career in the pros.  But what if they don’t make it…what then?  His a very different philosophy from that of Doug Williams, a gracious southern gentleman who was the first black quarterback to win the Super Bowl and then went on to coach his Alma Mater Grambling state.  Williams says he does not recruit his players with a promise that they will go to the NFL, because he is far more interested in players concentrating on getting a college degree, because if they have the talent the NFL will find them.

The white folks who approach him to pay respects seem both awed and a little scared.  After all, he happily goes by the nick name “Beast Mode” and plays like a wild beast smashing into opponents and grinding them into the dust with his powerful physique.  He is scary enough on the football field but in a chance encounter on the street in his thugged out rapper gear he can be….well, frightening.   And it shows on the faces of his white well-wishers.  The few comments uttered by Lynch in barely audible grunts reveal a simple minded man child and borderline thug.   Going to college helped to prepare him to play professional football, but certainly didn’t do much to polish up his rough edges.  We must demand more from our colleges in the eucation of the athletes who make millions of dollars for their schools.

Unlike Russell, who graduated from college in three years, “Beast Mode” quit the University after three years and turned pro.  Normally I would consider this a smart decision, but Marshann does not seem to have received the education that a great school like Cal could offer. In fact he gives me the impression that he would probably be locked up doing from now until if it weren’t for football.  Marshan Lynch is everything Russell Wilson isn’t!   I believe that is the true source of his hatred for Wilson, Jealousy growing out of feelings of personal inadequacy, the same syndrome Charles Barkley describes.

Beast Mode aka Marshan Lynch

Beast Mode III

I’d bet my bottom dollar he believes Lil Wayne is spittin wisdom
 He thinks its cool to be inarticulate
Beast Mode II
The Mark of a “for real” Nigga!

It appears to be pretty much a foregone conclusion that Lynch’s days in Seattle are numbered.  He is seen on the Hooker Boy film threatening to leave Seattle if he does not get the money he wants.  I am certain if the front office views this film it will hasten his departure.  The Sea Hawks know that they have a golden boy in Russell Wilson; he seems almost too good to be true.  He will be the face of their franchise for many years to come – a great player, solid citizen, movie star handsome, and fan favorite – while Lynch will become a faded memory.

However the problems revealed by this imbroglio remain, and coming up with a viable solution to it is the challenge that now faces the leadership of the Afro-American community.  I am not blaming Afro-American leaders for this situation; the people who have not properly parented their children must bear most of the blame.  Yet even when they do their best parents can’t guarantee that their children will find meaningful – or any work –at a living wage.  This is a problem that confronts the working class – white and blue collar wage workers – across the board as millions of manufacturing jobs are transferred overseas through globalization, and millions of jobs are eliminated through robotization.

These are the questions our community should be concentrating on with our working class allies from all quarters, but Afro-Americans must first solve the problem of neutralizing and reversing the nihilistic trend among the black lumpen element whose sub-culture celebrates ignorance hedonism and violence, while trashing intelligence, discipline, and even good manners.  It is way past time to put the lumpen element back in their place and not allow their values to replace the traditional values of black America which prized those things that would uplift the race: Industry, honesty, study, love of family, church fellowship and trying to be the best at whatever you do.  These are the values that helped me stay on course despite the trials and tribulations of being a black man in the openly racist American society of my youth.

They are the rocks on which we as a people stood in the most trying periods of our history, and oh what mighty rocks they are!  Let us measure our blackness by these tried and true standards that have stood the test of time, not the nihilistic antics of self-destructive clowns who emerged from the projects spouting semiliterate rhymes with various degrees of artistry and mesmerized listeners around the world.  For white middle class fans in the suburbs listening to these rhythmic rhymes was a sonic excursion into a strange forbidden menagerie populated by exotic others, but for far too many young blacks it was “the truth.”

However some young black men who grew up in the hood around thug life rose above their environment through setting high goals for themselves and working like hell to achieve them.    Richard Sherman is an excellent case in point.  Although he grew up in the heart of the hood in LA, he became a serious student –athlete who graduated from Stanford, one of the world’s most prestigious universities where he was a star on the football team.  Now he is the most feared and highly paid corner backs in the cornerbacks in the NFL.  After a playoff win last year that put them one game away from the Super Bowl he engaged in a bit of animated trash talking with a San Francisco wide receiver that almost caught the winning touchdown and it was caught on the microphone of a reporter.

White racist and paternalists of all sorts tried to label him a LA gangbanger, but he was having no part of the “thug” image that Marshan Lynch wears so proudly that when he heard Percy Harvin had been cut he tweeted “They cut my nigga!” And he threatened not to play in the coming game.   On the other hand Sherman quietly pointed out that he had grown up around thugs and knew them well and that he was nothing like a thug, that he was a Stanford grad, a great athlete and a law abiding tax paying citizen with no criminal record. Of course he is a big supporter of Russell Wilson, whom he regards as a great quarterback and fine person…which he is.  It is clear by his personal style, intelligence and easy eloquence that Sherman like Russell Wilson is headed for great things off the field and after football is but a memory

Richard Sherman at the White House
 Barack and Richard Sherman
 A Stanford Grad Setting his sights on the Future?

Recognizing the injustice done to this young man by his white critics in the press, many of the same scoundrels who tried to paint he and Michelle as “angry blacks who hate white people,” President Obama invited Sherm to the annual White House Correspondents Dinner and used his much maligned rhetoric in his comic routine, calling Sherman out by name and asking him if he was doing it right.  And when he invited the Seahawks to the white house to honor the team for winning the Superbowl he singled Sherman out to Sherman with a special recognition of his accomplishments.

I joke about Richard Sherman,”  the Presidnt said,  “but he grew up in Compton amid some wonderful people, but also gangs and drugs and guns.  His dad had to wake up before 4 a.m. every day to drive a garbage truck.  But because of his dad’s hard work and his family, and his mom, Richard ended up earning a 4.2 GPA in high school.  He won a scholarship to Stanford.  (Applause.)  He showed kids from his neighborhood that they could make it.  And if he seems a little brash, it’s because you’ve got to have attitude sometimes if you are going to overcome some of this adversity.  And the fact that he still goes back to inspire high schoolers for higher goals and making better choices, that’s all-star behavior.”

It was a great moment for Sherman and all black men in America who are trying to make their mark in some worthwhile endeavor.  As the often insightful Afro-America comedian Chris rock aptly pointed out: “Everything black people build niggas try to fuck it up!”   Hence Black Americans must make a clear choice as to what model of man we want our son sand sons in laws to be: smart upstanding productive black/Afro-American men….or destructive dumbass “niggas.”  To be or not to be: That is the only question!

******************

 To see Videos double click on links below
http://youtu.be/_uYvq_UYXnI
 Rusell Wilson interview with Howie Long
 ***********
Hooker Boy Films present Marshan Lynch Video
http://youtu.be/7ZkXs8ubGtI
Richard Sherman on “Thug Life”

http://youtu.be/7ZkXs8ubGtI

Dangerous Dumbass Niggas in the Hood
http://youtu.be/K1ZmNe8ojkE
A nice AfroAmerican community terrorized by armed thugs
Playthell G, Benjamin,
November 7, 2014
San Francisco, California

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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