Thoughts On An Athlete (8 JUL)

The following is a from an email exchange between some of my college fraternity brothers and associates. All are involved in some sort of work with the community/educational institutions. It began with an article from Fox New Corps contributor Jason Whitlock found here.


Upon reading Whitlock’s article, I do share the sediments of both my brothers Burnie (the same stereotypical assessments) and Jean (the argument does not further the dialog). It’s the same arguments that I hear at clergy conferences with my brother priests and I, at some point, am asked for a Black perspective. It’s the same arguments I have been hearing in the education department at the county prison for the past week. In the end, I strongly disagree with Whitlock’s assessment. It’s deeper than athletes imitating rappers and gangsters. Wade, Durant, Brady and countless others do not embrace that image.

I believe Hernandez had an issue with his identity and decided to embrace this gangster image. If his entire adolescence has been focused on him being a football player and not being a productive member of society, he will embrace what he feels is best. Chances are, throughout his life, he has been given passes by teachers, coaches, and others due to his athletic gifts. I believe He has not developed an image for himself. In short, he does not know who he is beyond a football player. The “selfies” with a glock, random and obscure tats that mean nothing (the “blood” tat had NOTHING to do with the gang, just him wanting to be cool. If it was legit, it would have been more prominently displayed, more elaborate, because it would be his identity, a member of the Internationally known, Bloods), and the blank look in the court room are evidence of someone who is lost, not ruthless.

Mr. Hernandez is a product of American greed and the objectification of athletes. Whitlock’s assertion that sports is patriotic and some sort of Americana, Norman Rockwell-esque image is false. It is sorely incorrect. Sports has been, and always will be entertainment, and an outlet for domination. It’s not little league baseball and apple pie. It’s the Olympiad, domination of one person, one team, one nation over another. And the mental prowess of a coach (and bookie) to coach (or pick) one team over another in order to “win.” Winning during the Apostle Paul’s time equated to military strength (if my runner outran yours, then you know my army will destroy yours), now, it translated to a source of revenue. Of course team building, character building, and selfless service can be by products of sports, but let’s be real, we are not buying tickets to see grown men bond, we want to see the aforementioned.

This lack of character building and devaluing a person to nothing than your bottom line (a source of revenue or sheer entertainment) will continue to result in kids picking an identity, rather than forming one. We ought to value them as they are…a child of God. If we do not, we will continue to leave future generations of kids without an identity beyond what the masses want them to be. When dust settles, whatever harm they cause themselves or others is on our hands.

– JMH+

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