When Will Black Athletes Realize That They Actually ‘Make’ Their Society?

By Gregory Moore
Updated: July 24, 2006

*image1*** SAN ANTONIO— Excuse me while I conjure up an old commercial for a public service announcement. Sir Charles, take it a way.

“I don’t believe professional athletes should be role models. I believe parents should be role models…. It’s not like it was when I was growing up. My mom and my grandmother told me how it was going to be. If I didn’t like it, they said, �Don’t let the door hit you in the ass on your way out.� Parents have to take better control.”

Okay I was really expecting the old Nike commercial from him. You know the one. �I am not a role model�. In a sense the above quote will have to do as the anomaly because whether Sir Charles likes it or not, professional athletes, rappers, big booty shakers on BET and MTV are all the role models most Black kids see and want to be emulate.

Whether Charles likes the situation, the fact of the matter is that as long as society continues to pay millions of dollars to professional athletes to play a kid�s game, kids will want to attain the millions that are out there. Talk about a warped sense of economics and the basic formulation of supply and demand.

Yet it�s out there folks and whether I like it or not, whether Charles likes it, or if anyone else thinks they can change it, the premise is out there. But yet when Black athletes continue to go out and do some of the damnedest things in our society, I think I�m like Charles at times; I want to go hide from the world.

Black athletes have this inordinate sense of responsibility to actually be very positive role models for our youth. We have some really good ones but there are some bad ones as well. For example, if anyone is a member of the Cincinnati Bengals franchise and you have been arrested within the past two years, would you please raise your hand?

If this were a real test, we would at least see two hands go up in Charles Henry and Mathias Askew. Okay here�s another one. Will the professional athlete who has allowed his household to become the benchmark for stupid spending please stand up?

C�mon Mike Strahan you know that�s you. With all joking aside, the reason why I selected these individuals is because right now they are in the limelight for being either incredulously inept at managing a household or are so ill equipped at being a law abiding citizen that somebody has to rattle their cages a little.

ROLE MODEL #1: A FINANCIAL ROLE MODEL Before I tackle another reason why crime doesn�t pay, I want to delve into Michael and Jean Strahan�s ridiculous divorce proceedings. Now I�ve gotten into a heated debate about this case with my own girlfriend. She has taken the stance that Jean deserves $21 million for putting up with Strahan for seven years.

Funny because it is believed that Strahan only is worth $23 million. I of course think that she deserves to get $7 million and be forced back to her pre-marriage life of frugal spending as a cosmetics store manager�s salary because evidently she didn�t believe in keeping such principles when she got married.

But despite what I might feel towards a woman I have never met, I am putting the blame of this sordid tale at the feet of the New York Giants superstar because he wasn�t man enough to run his household like, well, a man.

In my eyes, not only did Strahan allow his wife to go off on that ridiculous spending spree over the years, he was the basis for it because he himself never became a frugal finance manager and lead the household down a normal spending path.

As a father of twins, he can�t say that he has set a good example for his daughters on being financially responsible.

Let�s forget the Patrick Ewing anecdote of �We spend a lot because we make a lot� when it comes to professional athletes. One of the biggest problems that Black America has is the fact that athletes believe they have to spend gobs of money on lavish rides.

I�ve heard that right here in San Antonio that a former San Antonio Spurs player has a Ferrari, a Mercedes, a Cadillac Escalade and another car that he has been seen driving in. That�s his prerogative and his right but in my eye that is so extravagant it�s unreal. After all how many cars can you drive at one time? One.

But for athletes who are professionals, they measure their success on the materialistic things of cars and bling and rarely is it put in financial vehicles that perpetuate wealth.

I�m not going to assume that this former Spurs player doesn�t have lucrative business dealings or real estate prosperities that pay for his gas toys but one has to wonder how many other athletes like Strahan continue to live the crazy life of spending money because I have it.

When the judge splits the fortunes of the Strahans, I�m hoping that the judge finds a common line of thought and award properly but Michael needs to do better in life.

If you�re keeping count kids, this is another set of kids who will not have a two-parent household and that is something very prominent right now in Black America.

Now comes to light that Matthias Askew was arrested for not following police orders after a traffic altercation. Okay here�s where things are just becoming ridiculous in Cincinnati. Henry, Askew, rookie linebacker A.J. Nicholson and third round pick Frostee Rucker are facing criminal charges ranging from spousal abuse to vandalism to resisting arrest to whatever Henry is facing at this time.

I don�t want to put the moniker of being the NFL�s equivalent to what the Portland Trailblazers were a few seasons ago in the NBA, a laughing stock of a team that had a bunch social deviants who don�t understand that there laws in every state.

I don�t want to put that moniker on the team because that�s not fair to the rest of the players who are doing the right thing nor is it fair to the coaching staff and the fans that love that team.

However it is time for the Bengals front office to put the hammer down. Marvin Lewis needs to set an example that this type of shenanigans will not be tolerated by anybody no matter their depth chart status.

If it were me and I had the decision as to who stays and who goes, once the first cuts needed to be decided, all four of those players would be looking for new work. For some fans that may seem harsh but let�s look at the bigger picture if you�re a Bengals fan.

What�s more important a franchise that wins games with players who are positive role models to our kids or a franchise that is full of law breakers who will disrespect management the moment they have the chance.

I�m taking my chance on wanting a franchise that is law abiding because life would be so much easier when there is less distractions such as what is being written about here.

So what does those two sub topics have to do with what Charles Barkley said? It shows the need for parents to start reinforcing some values that can be carried into adulthood.

Without trying to play Dr. Phil on a website, let�s be honest about these examples. In the case of Strahan and the Bengals� players arrested, these issues came at the hand of social acceptance and rearing. On the one hand you have an athlete who believes that money means success.

He believes that flaunting is a way of acceptance and whether he wants to admit it or not, he is the reason why his now former ex-wife spent money the way she did. Yeah I think that Jean Strahan could have been more frugal but I�m blaming her former husband Michael for not living to those standards to begin with.

As for the Bengals players, their actions come from the reinforcement of not respecting the laws of the land. Not a single person from their families can successfully argue that they are all good men of reputable stature because they have all been arrested for moderately serious crimes. Yes, even resisting arrest is a serious crime.

The only reason why this behavior is being displayed like it has is because somebody told these young men that it was acceptable to be barbaric and disrespectful in society. Somebody taught them these actions and the sad thing is that it may have come from where the surroundings they had as kids.

So that leaves me to agreeing with what Barkley said in his quote. It�s up to parents to do what�s right for their kids. It�s up to them to kick them in the ass when they screw up in life where you have to go talk to the police or juvenile judge.

It�s up to parents to reward them and continually encourage their kids when they are excelling in a worthwhile endeavor that will build life skills and showcase their talents. But I�m going to also say that it is up to our professional athletes to set up a secondary line of defense and show that they are indeed role models of a different kind.

In this society kids want to see successful athletes be successful in their private lives as well. Right now the players I mentioned in this piece can�t be a part of that collective body of work. But somebody needs to step up and show that this is an anomaly and not the normal cycle in the Black community.

The kids who actually look up to them deserve real life success stories and whether we like it or not, professional athletes are a part of that role model demographic.