By Anthony McClean, Editor In Chief Emeritus NEW HAVEN (BASN) —...
The Vick Case: A Clear Example Of Why Black Journalists Want To Have Their Own Symposium
SAN ANTONIO — A while back, well during the NBA Finals, you will recall that I wrote an opinion piece about the need for a separate symposium for all Black athletes who are turning professional. In that piece I outlined the fact that many of today’s African American sports writers and columnists are getting sick and tired of watching the young men and women they write about become the headlines of either Page 1 or at least the lead story on the Metro page of many newspapers and other mediums.
Nothing brings this idea further to light than with the case involving embattled Atlanta Falcons signal caller Michael Vick. The Vick case is probably the poster child of why it is so important that possibly an idea such as a bunch of Black sports writers and journalists hold a separate symposium during a time when certain sports are not in action.
These symposiums would not be different from what the NFL or NBA may already have on the books but be something that would further bolster what the leagues may already be saying. The difference between what the leagues may say and what would be said at one of the symposiums is quite simple: the black journalists are going to keep the message real with the players.
When I look at what kind of symposium could be put together in lieu of this case, come up with some topic areas that are just not being hammered home by the agent, the league or both. One such thing is definitely the moniker of “you can’t continue to do what you did BEFORE the fat ass bank account came into play”.
It’s an old adage that far too many Black athletes simply do not understand. It is also one of the main reasons why we see these young men catching cases. Let me highlight just a few of what I think would be some down to earth topics that many writers would want to share with so many athletes: — “Baby Mama Drama” is gonna hem you up forever and a day.
– Seriously, just how much jewelry do you think you need in your lifetime?
– Who truly is your “homie” and why are they constantly spending YOUR money?
– “Street cred” is not nearly as important as being able to vote.
– If Big Mama saw you, would she approve of your actions?
– Understanding why cannot misappropriate your finances on stupid s–t.
– How would you like to be making this loot after your playing days, LEGALLY.
– What is a wise business investment?
– Can I really walk in two worlds and be respected by both communities?
– Why do I need an agent that truly understands who I am and what I am about.
These are just some of the topics that I think the Black sports writer symposium can tackle and deliver better results than what is currently out there. When you look around and you see what is going on in today’s headlines, you can see why these topics could be something that only the Black sports media could handle.
Are they insensitive? Of course. Are they seriously politically incorrect? Most definitely. Would they help curb all the craziness we see in the media today with many of our Black sports starts being in the wrong spotlight? Unequivocally without a doubt they would help.
This is not going to be easy to put together. As of this point, I am still trying to grab the attention of the powers that be that would want to help facilitate such a venture. I’ve gotten support from some writers and I’ve even found many wanting to help put the structure together. Yet what has to happen is that the leagues being called upon need to be receptive to something that is so unorthodox that it might just make sense. Stay tuned.
DEION’S ARTICLE NOT AS BAD AS THE NFL THOUGHT
If you haven’t read Deion Sanders article about Michael Vick and his problems, you have got to read. The Ft. Myers’ native and former two sport star wrote a piece that got a bad reaction because nobody read what he wrote in the context that it was written. To kind of bring you up to speed here is what the entire hubbub is about. Sanders wrote a piece about Vick’s recent troubles (see “Don’t Be Too Quick To Judge” by clicking here ).
In Prime Time’s piece he writes: ” What a dog means to Vick might be a lot different than what he means to you or I. Hold on, don’t start shaking your head just yet. Listen to me. Some people kiss their dogs on the mouth. Some people let their dogs eat from their plate. Some people dress their dogs in suits more expensive than mine, if you can believe that. And some people enjoy proving they have the biggest, toughest dog on the street. You’re probably not going to believe this, but I bet Vick loves the dogs that were the biggest and the baddest. Maybe, he identified with them in some way. You can still choose to condemn him, but I’m trying to take you inside his mind so you can understand where he might be coming from.”
Now when I read Deion’s piece, at first I didn’t understand what was all the flack was about. But then I started reading what we would consider a professional’s opinion and I was just flabbergasted by what was being said.
For instance, I read a piece by Brad Milner of the Panama City News Herald. In Mr. Milner’s piece he says, ” Deion Sanders’ opinions are the sole property of the NFL Network, any use of said opinions is not allowed without written consent. OK, while not completely true, it’s a scary notion. It’s partially true, however. Sanders, who writes a column for the Fort Myers News-Press, recently came out as a supporter of Mike Vick. That’s a no-no for the NFL Network, his employer.”
Now I have both a criticism of Mr. Milner’s assessment of one area and I agree with him on another. First the criticism. Milner says that Sanders’ piece was in support of Vick. Wrong. In no way does Sanders support the actions that Vick may have taken in the dog fighting case. As a matter of fact Sanders goes out of his way to let everyone know that he is also a dog lover and that he condones dog fighting on the highest of levels.
Basically.. what that tells me about the readers of his column is that they did not read the whole column, which isn’t new. Most people don’t read everything that is in front of them and usually they form an opinion before getting to the bottom of the last paragraph.
As far as Sanders being censored by the NFL I have to wholeheartedly agree with Mr. Milner and many others. The NFL, the NFL Network and anyone else who thought it was a good idea to not let Sanders’ article appear on NFL.com is doing something that shouldn’t happen in this country and for those who may have thought it was a wise idea to tell a daily newspaper what they can or cannot publish must not realize that in this country we live in a democracy that loves the First Amendment just as much as they love the dogs of this country. What the NFL has done was create a public relations nightmare that borders on communism.
There are going to be some individuals who say that I am way off base and that the league had every reason to not allow Sanders’ article to appear on its website. Actually they are quite wrong in that regards. If there is one thing that sports fans and others like when it comes to good “reads” it is diversity of opinion.
If the league was so worried about the public backlash it may have gotten from the posting, they could have posted this simple disclaimer above his column: “The views expressed by our columnists do not necessarily reflect the opinions and views or practices of the National Football League and any of its intellectual properties”.
It is that simple and that easy and you know what it does? It draws traffic to the site because now you have given potential visitors a reason to come back. America loves controversy and gossip and the Internet is full of it these days.
But back to Deion’s assessment of Vick. Primetime is dead on with his assessment and what his message is. What I would like everyone to do is actually read his piece and judge for yourselves. He did a magnificent job of trying to bring you into Vick’s train of thought. That is something a good columnist is supposed to do.
If the NFL wasn’t so gun shy on what PETA thought all the time, they too would have realized that Primetime did a magnanimous job of presenting a fair and balanced side to the issue at hand. It’s just too bad that the football lovers of the NFL didn’t get a chance to read his piece.
NOTE: BASN will run the Deion Sanders’ piece in its Sunday’s editions.