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Racing Thoughts On The Paradox of The Black Male Sports Entertainer


Watching Mike Tyson destroy Lou Savarese; describe how his style is "impregnable"; give the details of how he might tear Lennox Lewis' heart out and eat his children and then punctuate it all by praising Allah was quite a striking sequence of events to watch. The subsequent reaction to said events is possibly even more striking. Some people want Tyson locked up again, others see it as simply the latest evidence that Tyson is mentally unstable and others chalk it up to the natural aggression and intensity that accompanies a sport like boxing. I saw it as the tip of an iceberg of a subject that very few people wish to talk about...

When I was doing business in the music industry I had the wonderful experience of interacting with some of the top sports entertainers in the world - Black men who were friends and acquaintances of the Hip-Hop artists that I managed. I was always fascinated by a couple of things. First, I always noticed how these athletes, men in their 20s and 30s, were shielded from the law of cause and effect. No expense was spared by the legal and business representatives of these athletes when it came to covering up for some mistake, error, or outright transgression committed by these individuals. They could be late for appointments or interviews that they had agreed to; they could have just cursed someone out; they could have just used an illegal drug the night before a game and they even could have physically hurt someone. But it didn't matter. An attempt was always made by the individual's professional "team" (those who represent the artist in some capacity) to evade the law of cause and effect and the rule that consequences flow from actions...

And then another factor always impressed me. These men were, at the same time, some of the most mannerable human beings you could ever meet; the most loyal to their friends; the biggest readers of Holy Scripture; the most concerned about other people's feelings; the most affectionate with their wives, girlfriends and children; the most charitable with their resources and the most disciplined of individuals in perfecting their talents and skills that I have ever met...

I noticed how they were pitted against one another by their professional representatives and entourage who never ceased to make invidious comparisons between the individual athlete and that individual's peers. They and the athlete would compare their talent; their financial compensation; their material possessions; their press coverage; their popularity among the fans and their endorsements and even saddest of all the women that were in their lives. I have actually seen two professional athletes compete over who could win the "affection" of a single woman...

And lastly, I saw how the athletes would put on a "White" face for the American public and media and a "Black" face for Black audiences who they wanted acceptance from. The biggest group in this latter category were artists in the Hip-Hop community, many of whom could care less what white audiences thought of them. While to outsiders it may have appeared to be the opposite, the basketball players and football players that I met seemed willing to say, wear and do anything to win the acceptance of the rappers that I knew. That in and of itself was a fascinating sight...

When I saw Mike Tyson do and say what he did I didn't make any judgment, I simply reflected over the dynamics that I saw that worked on and in the Black males that I knew who were All-Star athletes in team sports. But I did realize that the dynamic has to be even greater on a Black Male Boxer who also is operating under the "gladiator effect"; the effect that reveals that there is little difference between America and ancient Rome where audiences tuned in to watch hand-to-hand combat with the intended outcome of having one man standing and the other on his back - dead or alive...

Boxing is the sport that comes closest to fulfilling this bloodlust, a characteristic that is a prevalent element in American sports entertainment. And Mike Tyson is the ultimate warrior as his persona leads some to believe that he may be dead serious when he says that he does not want to simply win an event but wants to hurt and maim his opponent and now possibly his nuclear and extended family...

And to top it off he is a Black Male, the member of the American population that strikes the most fear into the hearts of the rest of society. And what does he do for a living? He beats people up, legally assaulting them. The very activity that gets other Black males arrested and which many whites believe blacks are more likely to perform than any other ethnic group. If you think the Bell Curve was something wait until the Human Genome Project Meets The Origin of Black Crime...

A friend of mine and myself always bust out in laughter when we think of an old sports segment that we saw of Shaquile O'Neal when he was at LSU. The local white residents "loved" him, even old ladies on the street telling Shaquile how much they "loved" him. But, let Shaquile O'Neal walk near these same individuals at night time. My friend and I surmise their reaction would not be to express "love" for Shaquile. It would be to walk faster or even run. An experience that I and many other Black males have experienced...

A woman I just met from an African country tells me how popular American Black Male Athletes are in her country. She tells me that basketball players and then the rappers are the most popular where she is from. Then she tells me that Black Men are seen in her country as criminals and only out for one thing when it comes to women. She also tells me that her family, which now lives in America, would not approve if she dated a Black man because of what her parents think of "American Black Males"...

Now I am getting e-mails from Black women who are very upset because it appears from rumors, media reports and pictures floating on the Internet that Kobe Bryant's fiancÚ is white. They are hurt and tell me how tired they are of Black athletes marrying white women who they meet after they are famous and wealthy. They tell me O.J. was enough and stress that it was OJ's first wife, who was Black, who supported him during his trial in the murder of his second wife, who was white...


Cedric Muhammad

Tuesday, June 27, 2000

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