The Quiet Approach??

By Dexter Rogers, BASN Staff Reporter
Updated: May 26, 2010

INDIANA (BASN) — Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has been released from his mandatory behavioral treatment. But he hasn’t been cleared to practice with his teammates.

Meanwhile, Roethlisberger attended Merrill Hoge’s charity golf tournament recently where he declined to comment on his future.

Ever since March 5th when the story broke of Roethlisbergers’ alleged sexual assault of a 20-year old co-ed I believe Big Ben has gotten a pass from the media. He’s also received a slap on the wrist from the NFL with a six-game suspension.

It should have been a mandatory eight.

Big Ben is still being protected by the media. He escaped a conviction and consistent media scrutiny primarily because of his complexion, the NFL hierarchy, and the current media structure.

Allow me to break down each facet down from a historical standpoint to illustrate my point.

Roethlisberger is a white affluent professional athlete in the NFL. He plays the marquee position of quarterback and he’s been a part of two Super Bowl championships with a storied franchise.

Roethlisbergers’s skin color affords him a pass in American sport from the perks of racism ignited by Americas’ original brain trust. White males, beginning with the rise of American slavery, have controlled the economics, politics, judicial system and socialization of this country.

The same type of hierarchical control in society also exists in the utopian world of sports. Ownership, league commissioners, the economics and the rules of American sport have historically been in the hands of whites.

Isn’t it true the author of the Declaration of Independence Thomas Jefferson, wrote “We hold these truths to be self evident that all men are created equal?” While the statement is noble isn’t it also true Jefferson owned over 200 slaves and fathered seven children from slave Sally Hemmings?

Conversely history suggests African-Americans have been treated differently than whites in society and sports. Isn’t it true that Article I, Section 2, paragraph 3 of the United States Constitution once considered imported African slaves “three-fifths” of a being?

In sports isn’t it true African-American jockeys once dominated horseracing in winning over half of the first 25 Kentucky Derby’s ran? Then angry whites changed the rules. They formed the Jockey Club and refused to grant licenses to African-American riders to curtail their dominance.

African-Americans were kept out of Major League baseball based on a “gentlemen’s agreement.” Back in 1884 Hall Chicago Cubs manager Adrian “Cap” Anson yelled to left-handed pitcher George Stovey “Get that ni**er off the field!”

From that point on African-Americans were not welcomed to play “Americas Favorite Pastime” because of racism until Jackie Robinson changed that in 1947.

Isn’t this true?

With respect to the media African-Americans formed their own newspapers because whites wouldn’t hire them because of the permanent tans they sported.

Great writers like Joe Bostic, Wendell Smith and Sam Lacy covered sporting events from rooftops, on top of dugouts, or outside of stadiums even though they were credentialed. They weren’t welcomed in the press boxes because of racism.

So what does this all have to do with Ben Roethlisberger? How does the latter tie in to why Roethlisberger has gotten a free pass? It’s fairly simple.

Roethlisberger has benefited from the seeds of oppression that were planted in society which ultimately have contaminated American sports.

Otherwise how can it be explained having just two predominately owned African-American franchises in the NBA, NFL and Major Leagues since Jackie Robinson?

How else can it be explained that it’s taken this long to elect an African-American President?

How else can it be explained that African-American athletes are scrutinized more in the media than their white counterparts?

According to The Institute of Diversity and Ethics in Sports Over 90 percent of all mainstream newspapers are owned and controlled by whites. Also, 94 and 88 percent respectively of the Sports Editors and Sports Writers are white.

A couple of weekends ago, I covered the Civil Rights Game between the Cincinnati Reds and St. Louis Cardinals. The grand festivities on the field didn’t change the fact I was only one of three African-American writers of approximately 100 covering the game.

The lack of diversity in the media often leads to inaccurate reporting. It’s not being suggested African-Americans should cover only African-Americans and vice versa. But if variety is the spice of life wouldn’t it make have a media base that resembles those who play professional sports?

From a hierarchical standpoint Commissioner Roger Goodell cut Big Ben some serious slack. Goodell took his sweet time sanctioning Big Ben yet he pulled the trigger on the likes of Adam “Pacman” Jones, Plaxico Burress and Michael Vick quickly.

Also, the Pittsburgh Steelers should’ve worked a deal to trade Big Ben. They had no troubles getting rid of Santonio Holmes. Why didn’t they pull the trigger on a Roethlisberger trade?

Bottom line: If Roethlisberger were African-American he’d be scrutinized to the hilt just like Kobe Bryant, Michael Vick, Plaxico Burress, Pacman Jones and more recently the long retired Lawrence Taylor.

The media demanded Tiger Woods make a statement about his infidelity yet the media gives Big Ben a pass on his alleged sexual assault charges. Yes, plural because he has one pending from a 2008.

Remember? Woods read a prepared 11-plus minute speech but that wasn’t enough. Tiger didn’t break any law. Why hasn’t that same white media structure demand Big Ben speak about his alleged sexual assault?

In closing, Big Ben can make the connection because of his complexion. Based on the historical legacy of racism in society, inequality in American sport and lack of diversity in the media the likes of Roethlisberger will continue to benefit from a different set of rules compared to their African-American counterparts.