Sunday, December 09, 2007

Message to the Black Athlete in America

I live in Grand Rapids, Michigan, which is a staunch Republican outpost located about halfway between Chicago and Detroit. Perhaps our most famous living native son is the champion boxer Floyd Mayweather, Jr. I bring this up because recently Floyd beat up some Brit to win some kind of middle weight boxing title. You see I don't follow the sport closely. In fact, I truly wonder why if it's illegal for chickens and dogs to fight then it's perfectly acceptable for people to scramble eachother's brains for sport. I have my theories as to why, but I will save that for another day. Anyway, the point is that you would think our local newspaper and TeeVee stations would be closely following this story. But I watched the local news last night and they did not mention anything about the fight (which was going on at the time) until the sports section. Yet, last year when the Tigers (which play in a city 180 miles away) were in the World Series, they led off the news with coverage and reporters covering the story in front of wide screen TVs at local sports bars.

Now let's go back in time a few years to 1998. At that time Mark McGwire hit 70 home runs and was a modern day folk hero. Three years later Barry Bonds broke that record and was subpoenaed. He then went on to break the all time home run record in 2007 and was subsequently indicted.

Ok disclosure time. Barry Bonds and Floyd Mayweather Jr. are black men. So, to borrow a sports anaolgy, they have two strikes against them starting out. They are also considered arrogant by many sports writers who happen to be caucasion. STRIKE THREE!

They are outta there. No front page headlines and you better watch your step. That's the price you must pay if you insist on being the UBA, or Uppity Black Athlete. This is the CLS, or Carl Lewis Syndrome at play here. Named after a famous UBA from the '80s, who didn't play by the rules of the caucasian media and was even suspected of being gay. That killed his megastar and even star status in America (though not elsewhere in the sissy world of Europe and Japan).

If you want to be well liked and black in the world of sports you have to be at least humble if not downright deferential. Caucasian athletes can do as they damn well please, they get a pass. These are the rules. Michael Jordan was a possible exception. He would not suck up, but he still became the megastar because he bit his lip and let the Nike money do the talking. Be like Mike. And they will at least tolerate you.

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