Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Gone are the Romanticized Athletes of Yesterday

I confess.
I didn’t watch the NCAA Finals last night. Tip off wasn’t until 9:15pm and I channel-surfed my way to 24 on Fox. The show ended at 10pm and I was back to CBS. For about 3 minutes I was engaged in a battle to stay awake…Sleep was the victor and I lay on my bed conquered.

I woke up to the sounds of celebration from the Florida Gators. Joakim Noah was interviewed, and when the interview was done he jumped up on the scoring table and began to yell and beat on his chest. Then his audio was lowered and background music began to play. Why? Well, it was probably because he was cursing up a storm. I was disappointed at the his choice of celebratory words at first, but it then became apparent to me that he was just “keepin’ it [as] real” as possible. The kid plays with intensity and celebrates in the same fashion.

NBA players now have to wear suits to games…NFL players are facing more restrictions on their end-zone celebrations. These leagues and organizations in addition to the fans need to stop looking for examples of the ideal athlete in places where they don’t exist. Gone is the deliberately modest athlete and emerging in his place is the athlete that personifies confidence. That’s not to say that these new athletes aren’t modest…they are just not as concerned with maintaining an image that is not consistent with their reality.


Brother Afrocan said...

Alot also relates to the cultural dichotomy seen between black and white, young and old, well-off and not-so-well-off. The divide is becoming soo huge that individuals on either side practically live in different worlds now.

The pro-leagues (and the NCAA though they are not explicit about it) are primarily out to make money. Like any good business they need to keep the customers happy. The majority of their customers are over 40yrs upper-middle class/rich white folks or corporations seeking to advertise and sell products to this same demographic. As a result the product pro-leagues put out has to cater to the buyers tastes. If you or I was next to Joakim- though I am not endorsing his actions, I doubt I would take offense to him cursing up a storm, my main focus would be his stat line and the Win/Loss column not what came out his mouth. For others, they may be too mortified by the sight of a 7ft black dude yelling obscenities to look at his game or even consider paying money again to watch him.

David Stern is a business man, as much as the NBA dress code was driven by racist undertones and the image wholesome white consumers wish to see, it also preserved the $20 millon a year check Iverson receives. On the flip-side, it can however be somewhat likened to the black-face Mr. Bojangles was forced to perform in for most his career in order to receive his steady stream of income.

Brother Lightness said...

I particularly enjoyed Joakim Noah's comments at the end of the game. When asked how he felt after winning the National Championship, he responded, "We're going shine all day, all night!" Big up to Joakim for being real and unabashedly basking in the glory of his team's victory. F the idea of the romanticized athlete and all the politically correct comments athletes have been trained to offer in a gracious bow of victory.

I did find it interesting how CBS plugged Joakim's father, 1983 French Open Champion Yannick Noah. The constant juxtaposition between Joahkim and his father that CBS played on seemed to be their attempt to romanticize a college game where tattoos, cornrows and a general urban mentality have "infiltrated" its very purity.