Friday, August 17, 2007

Should Athletes Keep Quiet?

Smooth Magazine has an interesting commentary regarding the celebrations and loudmouth antics that some athletes use on their various fields of play. The write-up discusses whether or not racism plays a part in this and suggests the media constantly approves of those athletes who simply "shut up and play" and frowns upon those who showboat to celebrate after a play. The article includes a photo of Denver Nugget, Allen Iverson, standing in front of the American flag.

From Smooth magazine:

"Today’s successful sports figures are media-savvy self-promoters who understand that an opportune display of personality can be the key to changing from a beloved hometown hero into a one-man marketing supercollider with a Hummer full of endorsement deals. Most fans delight at the outsized on-field antics of their larger-than-life heroes. Meanwhile, many of the same superstar athletes are being criticized in the press for “unsportsmanlike” touchdown dances, “excessive” post-dunk celebrations, and for simply speaking their minds on any number of topics. It is the latter trend in particular that doesn’t sit well with the old guard of sportswriters and the new wave of sideline pundits.

Curiously, egregious infractions (tardiness, lack of preparedness, open contempt) aren’t what draw the ire of the David Sterns and Paul Tagliabues of the world. They’re more often rankled by a conspicuous tattoo or hairstyle or a joyous end zone victory dance: anything that says, “I’m here and I matter.” The fact that the athletes are, by and large, young Black males from impoverished urban areas, while many sportswriters tend to be older White males from more privileged communities, is telling. Are mere cultural differences to blame for the tendency of White fans, coaches, and/or sportswriters to see the exuberant behavior of Black athletes as arrogant and offensive?"

The commentary raises a thought-provoking question, although it could be believed that American culture and society is expressed more freely and blatantly each year as well. Quite honestly, I think things like passionate slam dunks followed by non-offensive gestures or something like Dikembe Mutombo shaking his finger "Not in My House" after he swats a shot away are what makes the game of basketball entertaining to watch. Trash talk is also part of the game, which some use to their advantage and others are able to block out. When these things are censored, its as if the personality has been sucked out of the players and the spirit of competition.

Full article/commentary here at

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