Saturday, November 3, 2007

Gordon Gartrelle says: Mechagodzilla…really? And I thought your Star Wars collectables were geeky.

The Pats-Colts game is more than just a sporting event; for me, it’s an existential event that highlights the tensions between my sports self and my black self.

As a sports fan, I too have succumbed to the hype. Sunday’s match-up is the most discussed, anticipated regular season game certainly since Kobe vs. Shaq 1 and probably since the 1st comeback game of Jordan (wearin the four-five). I’m a little worried, though, because usually when the hack sportswriter hype machine goes overboard and predicts a clash of the titans, the actual game ends up being boring, sloppy, or one-sided. Still, tomorrow I’ll be glued to my 16 inch analog TV like every other dupe, hoping for the epic battle you describe.

As a black man, though, the media treatment of the two teams, particularly the coaches, and quarterbacks, cause me some concern. If I may:

Coaches (Bill Belichick vs. Tony Dungy)

Belichick: Without question the biggest asshole in the game. I have a genuine soft spot for brazen assholes, so part of me is enjoying the reign of evil Billy. While Belichick is the best NFL coach since Bill Walsh, I am uncomfortable with the way the word “genius” is thrown around to describe him and his coaching staff. First of all, it’s football; it aint rocket science. Belichick is no Dirt McGirt. The main reason Belichick is considered a genius is that 90% of NFL coaches are incompetent. There are some racial undertones and overtones to this genius bullshit. Remember when Charlie Weis, celebrated offensive mastermind, was supposed to restore to Notre Dame football the tradition and glory that “Chocolate” Ty Willingham was fired for tarnishing? As if black folks needed another reason to hate Notre Dame? And, to be completely honest, Belichick just looks like a racist. It’s the flat hairstyle and the way the thin lips curl. The only NFL coaches who look more racist are Mike Shanahan, Tom Coughlin, and Norv Turner. I can easily imagine the four of them waxing nostalgic about the good ol’ days, back when niggruhs knew their place and white men could have themselves a taste of the dark meat without repercussions.

Dungy: A respectable negro if there ever was one—perhaps the most respectable negro in the history of sports. This guy should be on our banner. But by the way that media talks about how nice, articulate, and gentle he is, I half expect some of these reporters to pat him on the head as he does a minstrel shuffle. And there’s something off about his demeanor: he’s a little too nice. He seems like the type to suddenly flip out and take out his whole family. Finally, I have no qualms with his personal relationship with Hey-Zeus, but I don't think that our most visible respectable negroes should be associating with the whole Christian anti-gay contingent.

QBs (Tom Brady vs. Peyton Manning)

Brady and Manning are the two greatest QBs of this era; they possess superior playmaking ability, accuracy, poise—the total package. Remember all the talk about certain stupid, self- destructive players revolutionizing the position? Forget about it. The most effective and most successful QBs happen to be two very traditional (and very white) pocket passers. They deserve to be celebrated for their play, but except for Brett Favre, no athletes receive more underserved praise for their character than do Brady and Manning. The media will have us believe that their virtuosic performances on the field make them paragons of moral righteousness off the field. Their character is contrasted with that of the tattooed, cornrowed, hip hop lovin thugs (that’s code for young black men) who have supposedly ruined the integrity of the NFL and NBA. Word? Let’s take a closer look.

Brady: The idol of every heterosexual white guy in the country. Movie star looks (so I’m told), legendary track record playing the most respected and publicized position in all of professional sports, and his pick of famous white tail. Hmm, I guess that makes him the idol of a whole lot of brothers too. Anyway, Brady knocked up his ex, and refused to marry her. Granted, her pregnancy has all the makings of a trap, but still. Where’s the outrage that people express over black unwed fathers? Where are all of the middle aged white sportswriters and black buffoons talking about the bad image Brady’s bastard child sends to the youth about the sanctity of the white family? Someone needs to fund a study to determine whether lacking melanin gives white skin the properties of teflon. Also, Brady was Bush’s guest of honor at the 2004 State of the Union Address, so he loses 25 black points.

Manning: I am convinced that half of these sportswriters would take a bullet for Peyton Manning. They robotically praise his numbers even back when he had that little annual habit of choking in the playoffs. 1) he has been known to yell at, berate, and blame his teammates for his team’s failure. The sports media calls that passion: we’re supposed to applaud him for caring so much. A black athlete does the same thing? He’s a bad leader, a team cancer, an immature, selfish primadonna. And, let’s not forget that Manning tried to teabag a female trainer in college, then implied that it wasn’t a big deal because she had a “vulgar mouth!” The sports media came down on Manning pretty hard about his character issues and, as a result, his stock plummeted on draft day. What’s that? That didn’t happen? They either completely ignored the incident or treated it as a harmless prank? Oh yeah, white privilege, double standards, yada yada yada. What a silly negro I am sometimes.

Oh, and Chauncey, I say this because I care: watching wrestling as a kid is OK; watching wrestling as an adult is a little suspect. Half nekkid, oiled-up men in drawls, makeup, and glittery costumes pounding on each other to the delight of millions of homophobic adolescent males? Something is fishy about that. I’m just sayin'.


White sports media: 42
Sanity: 0

p.s. prepare to toss some swine salad, Chauncey.


brotherbrown said...

Actually, Dungy seems to be in the Cheater's head. It's been a while since the Pats have beaten the Colts.

William L. Tucker, Jr. said...

The big reason, IMO, this particular matchup is receiving so much hype is because the TV people (and by extension, the commercial sports media) and the NFL understand that the overall quality of their product is mediocre. Putting aside momentarily the personas of the coaches and quarterbacks cited here, it's management and organization that determines how well teams perform on the field. The Colts and Patriots are two of the small handful of NFL franchises that are well run, from top to bottom. That's why they're producing winning seasons every year.

FWIW, Belichick and Dungy are equals; so are Brady and Manning. Who cares about their public personas or private lives? If politeness was really important to good coaching, Norv Turner would be the second coming of Lombardi. But... there's a racial aspect to the hype?

I think you're staring at the blot a little too hard. Yes, anti-Black racism still permeates the NFL. But there are much, much better examples around to provide as evidence.

gordon gartrelle said...

Great points. I actually agree. These are the only two consistently good teams in the league, helmed by the best coaches and QBs, so I understand the NFL's business decision as well as the public's interest.

My point wasn't to describe the hype as racist, but to say that the media provides racialized lenses in their treatment of everyone. I don't think that the personal behavior or character of any sports figure should matter that much, but the double standards are maddening.