Having Their Say

By Greg Moore
Updated: February 2, 2008

SAN ANTONIO — Where do today’s Black athletes stand on some of the more controversial or notable issues?

If you are scouring the news sources, one would be led to believe that today’s Black athlete, whether it be Tiger Woods, Carmelo Anthony, Roy Jones, Lelia Ali, Emmitt Smith or any other Black athlete that has either been in or still is in the limelight have strayed as far away from controversy as possible.

Why is that? Are they afraid of some type of backlash from a sponsor, marketing deal, team, league or the media? And if they are afraid of such backlash, why is there such backlash to begin with?

It’s hard to fathom not a single Black athlete taking a note worthy stance on some very important issues. I have been reading what many are saying about Rick Majerus’ comments on Pro Choice and I have to give Rick credit; at least he has the stones to say what he truly believes.

Yet here he is getting slammed by the St. Louis Arch Diocese for takingan anti-Catholic stance. Here he is asserting his U.S. Constitutional rights and you have a church body trying to regulate moral policy.

That’s so hypocritical in this day and time. Here is possibly the largest religious body, the Catholic Church, trying to tell a devout practitioner what he can believe in and yet we have priests, both former and latter, engaging in one of the morally reprehensible scandals of all time.

For the Church to want to sanction, or allow a governing agent to sanction, Majerus shows exactly why there is a separation of church and state.

It also shows possibly why many Black athletes are wary of making or taking stances on some of the hotter topics in our society. If I were able to hold a national forum with many of today’s top Black athletes and ask them some poignant questions, I don’t think I would get many takers.

Do you honestly believe that LeBron James would show up if I were going to ask him why he thinks it is okay to impregnate his girlfriend BEFORE marriage? Do you think that Roy Jones, Michael Vick or Adam Jones would attend if I were to start grilling them on why they wholeheartedly believe that taking part in sadistic, cruel or debasing acts with animals or women is okay in their world?

Do you honestly think that even the great Jim Brown would have the stones to answer whyhe felt it necessary to lay his hands on a woman and thus disrespect a “queen” that he said he loved? How about O.J. Simpson? Just asking him if he has common sense may be a little tough to fathom, but would he show up?

In all cases mentioned and probably those not even thought of, I wouldn’t get any takers.What makes this a great question is because undoubtedly a discussion of this magnitude is going to come down to race and the beliefs everyone grew up with.

The beliefs I may have are going to be different from that of a Michael Jordan, which may be totally different than those of Lisa Leslie whose thoughts may contradictory to those of Terrell Owens.

They would be so diverse that it may be hard to pin down any common threads. Yet that is also why a racial dialogue not just with those outside of the Black community is needed but also within.

It is the very reason why the Black community needs to find out why so many athletes are mum to the plights that may be going on and either refuse to speak out or simply don’t care about the situations.

There is no better example of this phenomenon than with what has happened in several weeks with Tiger Woods and Kelly Tilghman. Without re-hashing a now almost dead story, Tilghman made some very off the cuff comments during a broadcast.

Locally I have said that her actions were unprofessional and that something had to be done. Yet I am also perturbed by the non-actions of Woods. Why didn’t he say something within a day or two of this incident?

Why didn’t he say something to show that he was not pleased by what was said. For example, what if Woods had said the following: “While I am friends with Kelly, that does not mean I have to categorically condone or ignore the ramifications of her words.”

“In today’s world, where we still have a racial divide that is still very prevalent in the golf industry, such words, even in a joking manner, are indeed hurtful and harmful to the golfing world.”

“While I am saddened by her words, I will not comment on my personal feelings of what she said towards me. Those comments will be reserved for a private conversation between her and myself at an undisclosed time.”

“Yet let me say this for the record. As a product of a family that is very interracial and from growing up in a household where I was taught to look beyond a person’s skin tone or ethnicity, Kelly’s words have indeed damaged the many good works done by me and others to try and equal the racial playing field in golf.”

“There is no room for bigotry of any sort and we should all strive to squash it in our own areas of society. I hope we can all learn from this and try to make this a more equal playing field not only in golf but in life.”

If Woods had said the afore mentioned, do you think we would have heard from Rev. Al Sharpton? Do you think Dave Seanor would not have gone with the Golfweek cover of Jan. 19th?

Would there really be a real discussion about how Blacks are still treated in sports at all levels as second-class or inferior athletes and/or coaches? The answer to that question is probably not.

If not for the actions of a few, this op/ed may not have even come to fruition.

Yet that is where part of the problem lies. We are a reactionary society. Instead of taking measures to stave off possible negative implications, we wait until they happen and then we try to fix the problem.

Is that really how we should operate in the 21st century?

As for getting today’s Black athletes to speak out on the hot topics of our time, it definitely is easy to see why many do not want to wade into discussion. In our microwave, reactionary world, we really don’t look for solutions to the problems, just band-aids to hold them together for a few more years and a microphone that allows us on the few sports figures, both African American and other ethnicities, who have the mitigated gall to stand up for their beliefs.

We lambaste these brave individuals like a Rick Majerus or Charles Barkley and we complain about the ineptness of thousands of others who are too ‘scared’ to face the harshness of our voice.

It is the world in which we live in.