Andrew Hamm: the Bipolar Express

Ruminations on theatre, music, and just about anything else that crosses my bipolar brain.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Jason Whitlock Strikes Again -- x3!

Another great column, "Forum Goes Off Topic," by the Kansas City Star's Jason Whitlock. Whitlock attended the Black Athlete Forum at Morehouse College, an event created by Spike Lee after a lunch table debate with Whitlock on the Imus controversy. I regret that it took me two weeks to post this link and excerpt.

Vivian Stringer was wrong for conducting an hourlong press conference/pity party in reaction to Imus’ comments. Wallowing in victimhood might help an individual get a fat book contract and coaching salary that equals the football coach’s, but it does not elevate anyone else.

After having a rational discussion with her away from the TV cameras Monday night, I believe she thought she was doing the right thing at the time. She thought she could defend her players and promote women’s basketball without putting her kids in harm’s way. Naïve but plausible.

She never envisioned the kids on her team becoming bigger targets of harassment and ridicule on a national level. Well, that predictable, sad reality is beginning to settle in now.

Just last week, popular black comedian DL Hughley appeared on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” and completely trashed the Rutgers women’s players. Hughley called them “nappy headed” and “ugly” among other things. “The Tonight Show” has far more reach than Imus’ old radio/TV show. Hughley resonates with black kids far more than Imus.

I pointed all this out at The Forum. I sarcastically asked when we were going to protest DL Hughley. No one said a word.

Whitlock also says in a later column on Barry Bonds:

The reaction to every misdeed doesn’t have to be polarizing, especially not racially polarizing.


In the pursuit of ratings, sometimes it’s in the media’s best interest to keep us divided — as blacks, whites and browns, conservatives, liberals and moderates, Republicans, Democrats and Bill Mahers.

To keep us divided and entertained, things rarely get placed in proper context, issues rarely get examined in proper detail and our leaders are rarely left with an option that truly seeks to improve the situation.

Whitlock for President.

By the way, what happened to Al Sharpton attacking hip-hop artists for their misogynistic content? Where did that story go?

But the wisdom doesn't stop there! Here's an excerpt from May 19th's article, "Some Things Can Be Taught:"

For the last few years, I’ve heard more and more people in the world of sports suggest that colleges (and perhaps even high schools) need to start offering majors/curriculum in sports. If actors can study theater in college, why can’t athletes study sports?

I used to dismiss this notion. Now I understand it.

It’s long been my position that Michael Vick is totally clueless about all the responsibilities that go along with playing quarterback in the NFL. It’s so much deeper than what takes place on the field. Starting quarterback in the NFL is a 365-day-a-year job. It’s the most difficult job in sports. You’re the face of the franchise and a spokesman for the entire city.

A starting QB’s relationship with the head coach, offensive coordinator and owner is often more important than his relationship with his teammates. A college football coach doesn’t have time to prepare his players for what awaits the select few of them who reach the NFL.

This stuff needs to be taught in a classroom. You might think that it’s silly that Vick needs to be schooled not to get involved in illegal activity such as dog fighting. You think that’s common sense. It is. But getting Vick to understand his place in the world based on the job he holds would quite possibility get him to think big picture and realize that all of his decisions — including who he lets live in a home he owns — could potentially have major impact on the franchise that gave him lifetime financial security.

At his salary, football is no longer fun and games. Peyton Manning understands this because he had a father who was a quarterback and trained him to take on all the responsibilities that go along with the position. Most players don’t have a former pro to school them. They need to be educated in their profession in a classroom.

I find this to be a completely fascinating idea. College athletes are no more guaranteed opf professional success than college actors, journalists, dancers, accountants, writers, scientists, law enforcement, lawyers, etc. But the latter group are certainly prepared in a much more comprehensive fashion than athletes. Sports is a profession, so why not a sports major?

I'm willing to bet that a BA in Athletics with an emphasis on Football would encourage a lot more kids to finish their degrees than a degree in "Communications" with extracurricular football activities. Athletics majors would learn their profession's history, they would learn leadership structure, they would learn professional behavior, and they would learn about the pitfalls and dangers of being a well-paid public figure. In essence, four years of college to teach them what the NFL tries to cram into their heads in the one-weekend Rookie Symposium.

Who's more likely to study and learn difficult material: a college student on scholarship with GPA requirements to play, or a newly-minted 22-year-old multimillionaire with reams of evidence that the rules don't apply to him?

Jason Whitlock totally rules.

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