Everybody Plays The Fool Sometimes

By Eric D. Graham BASN columnist
Updated: June 17, 2011

Everybody plays the fool, sometime There’s no exception to the rule, listen baby It may be factual, it may be cruel, I ain’t lying Everybody plays the fool by Aaron Neville

Mike Tyson

Mike Tyson

NORTH CAROLINA, (BASN)Does buffoonery destroy the legacy of Black athletes?

With every generation born, the legacies of some Black athletes seem to diminish.

Why? Because children live in the here and now, not the way back when.

I know that technology and YouTube can provide instant highlights for them to see, but many of them seem to have become “caricatures of themselves” after they retire from the game.

As a result, many of our children can’t believe how great Charles Barkley was in his prime. They have no idea how intimidating and how competitive he was on the court. Especially, when they see him acting so silly on TNT.

The disturbing trend of great athletes becoming buffoons for cash and television appearances can be seen with Mike Tyson.

Tyson, literally, is a shell of himself.

We, as boxing fans, of course, are happy that Tyson is off of drugs, out of prison, and not living a self-destructive lifestyle.

But when we see Tyson acting so ridiculous on television, buck dancing for the camera, it hurts.

Here is one of the most furious boxers of our time being reduced to a “circus act.” Honestly, it’s sad seeing Tyson being portrayed as a fool and a bumbling idiot for the enjoyment of others.

Because with every television appearance, they seem to be literally stripping him of his manhood.

As a result, children of this generation can only laugh at Tyson, as if he was some type of cartoon character instead of the great boxing champion he once was.

Even with his recent induction to the Boxing Hall of Fame, most people truthfully only see the tattoo-faced character in the Hangover movies.

In defense of Tyson, he is not the only one who has become a “caricature of himself.”

By definition, the word caricature means mockery, spoof, or humorous distortion.

With that understanding, there is no greater athlete that fits this description than the beloved “Spanish-speaking,” homerun hitter, Sammy Sosa, who was seen at a recent Miami Heat and Chicago Bulls Eastern Conference Finals looking unrecognizable.

If the children of this generation saw a before and after picture of Sammy, all of them would scream “Oh, my God” before staring and pointing at him in disbelief.

Why? Because his white skin and green eyes, have now overshadowed his great baseball career with the Chicago Cubs. His white skin, in fact, is so disturbing, we have forgotten about his steroid usage during the home derby with Mark McGwire.

Personally, I think if Shaquille O’Neal is not careful, he could end up with the same fate as Sosa.

No. I am not saying Shaq is going to bleach is skin white. But he may wear the white mask, not the Jabbawockeez mask he wore at the 2009 NBA All Star Gamemask , but a white face mask of Hollywood buffoonery.

Why do I say this? Because America loves a big, black court jester.

Even now, sports analysts are claiming Shaq’s personality outshined his play on the court.

Now, they are constantly disrespecting O’Neal’s greatness by calling him an underachiever plus a fat, out of shape, beach whale.

As a result, they are now convinced Shaq was more an entertainer than a great basketball player. And this is why; he only won five championship rings instead of ten.

I, for one, don’t agree with this theory.

But I hope, Shaq doesn’t minimize his basketball greatness by becoming a clown for some sports program by dressing up like a woman and by performing lap dances and strip teases with a Mexican on Jimmy Kimmel.

Oh snap, he has already done all of that.

Don’t get me wrong, there is a balance between being serious and silly.

But when “other” people prefer for you to act silly than serious, it becomes a serious problem, especially if you are a Black man in American.

The Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Chad “OchoCinco” is currently on that borderline of silliness which could eventually destroy his football credibility with all of his offseason shenanigans and reality shows.

And unfortunately, within three years, people will probably remember him more for his off the field antics instead of his great on the field catches and sideline grabs.

As a result, his Hall of Fame dreams of wearing a yellow jacket will probably only occur on the sidelines of some Cleveland Browns game.

Don’t get me wrong, we all love to laugh. But we must determine if “they” are laughing with us and not at us. Comedian David Chappelle tried to teach us this valuable lesson when he turned down $50 million from Comedy Central, because he felt his comedic genius was doing more harm than funny.

With that said, I will try to view all of these athletes the way they were and not the way they have become.

Despite all of my concerns about these Hall of Fame athletes, they all will be “laughing” all the way to the bank while I’ll continue to try to make “a dollar out of fifteen cents.”

Now, that’s funny.