Category Archives: Sports

WHY I WILL NOT BE CELEBRATING THE 70TH ANNIVERSARY OF JACKIE ROBINSON’S MAJOR LEAGUE DEBUT

Although I am a baseball fan, I will abstain from the jubilant celebrations surrounding the 70th Anniversary of Jackie Robinson’s integration of “Major League Baseball.” Where others see cause to celebrate, I mourn. From my perspective, this is yet another occasion that proves that African-Americans have made whites the measuring stick that they measure success. Such individuals apparently think that there is no greater sign of success than to close the physical gap between themselves and whites, no matter the cost. One thing is for certain, African-Americans foolish commitment to integrate with whites has repeatedly resulted in their ruin. Put simply; the integration of Jackie Robinson into major league baseball came at a steep cost to the entire community, particularly black baseball players and those men who owned Negro League teams.

Never mentioned in these annual celebrations of Robinson’s arrival to the Los Angeles Dodgers roster on April 15, 2017, is the economic ruin that resulted for the black community. The eventual disappearance of Negro League teams meant the loss of dollars within a community that had learned to circulate their monies as a result of racial segregation. Trust me when I say that the socioeconomic casualties, especially the loss of ownership of teams, are far too numerous to list in this space. Negro League teams such as the Atlanta Black Crackers, Cleveland Buckeyes, New York Black Yankees, and Kansas City Monarchs were not only a significant source of entertainment for the African-American communities that they were situated within, but also provided an opportunity for team ownership for African-American men such as Joe Green, Andrew “Rube” Foster, Tom Wilson.

By most accounts, Negro League players were more skilled and physically superior to their Major League counterparts. This statement even includes a folk-hero such as Babe Ruth whose talent was eclipsed by Josh Gibson; we must never forget that it was Gibson, not Ruth, who was the only man to ever hit a ball out of Yankee Stadium.

In hindsight, it made little sense for Negro League teams to disassemble and have its most acceptable, not necessarily most talented, pieces parceled out to white Major League teams. Although I could be wrong on this matter, I would hope that if the African-American community understood that the most significant consequence of Jackie Robinson integrating Major League Baseball was the dismantling of the Negro Leagues and the ancillary decline of the African-American community’s socioeconomic viability that they would temper their celebration of Jackie Robinson donning “Dodger blue.”

Now please do not take this as a veiled call for the continuation of racial segregation in baseball or the nation in general, because it is not. However, it is a much-needed call to reconsider African-Americans rush to abandon their institutions for outside entities for no logical reason beyond it being owned by whites.

Make no mistake about it, the decline of the Negro Leagues was a hostile takeover by white baseball owners. If Major League Baseball power-brokers such as the frequently celebrated Branch Rickey were interested in actually integrating the sport, they would have pursued diversity throughout the entirety of the game from the outfield to the ownership boxes. There is precedent for such a move in professional sports as well.

There was a time when the National Basketball Association (NBA) had stiff competition from the upstart American Basketball Association (ABA). Now I do not want you to think that the ABA was some ragtag outfit composed of players who could not have played in the NBA. It was very similar to the Negro Leagues in that it featured incredibly talented players:

  • Julius “Dr. J.” Irving
  • Artis Gilmore
  • Connie Hawkins
  • Rick Barry
  • Spencer Haywood
  • Billy Cunningham
  • George McGinnis
  • George Gervin
  • Moses Malone
  • Dan Issel
  • David Thompson

Instead of “integrating” the ABA stars into NBA teams, NBA owners created a merger with the upstart league and agreed to accept the Denver Nuggets, San Antonio Spurs, Indiana Pacers, and New York Nets into their league. Players from the two remaining teams that folded were placed in a dispersal draft.

When placed within this context, there was absolutely nothing, outside of bigotry fueled institutional racism, preventing white Major League owners from creating a merger with the Negro Leagues and bringing several pre-existing franchises into their league. Although I am certain that many will charge that white fans would have boycotted inter-racial games, such an action would have had little impact on profits as African-American fans would have flocked to the games in droves with hopes that black baseball players would have proven their superiority once and for all. Despite it being relatively difficult to comprehend considering the popularity of football and basketball within Black America that there was a time when baseball was also Black America’s favorite pastime.

Unfortunately for Negro League owners and the black community, the price white team owners demanded their “acceptance” of African-American baseball players was the dissolving and absence of black ownership. From their perspective, African-Americans were only acceptable as disposable employees, not as owners possessing a voice in league operations. It is for these reasons that I cannot fully embrace Jackie Robinson’s Major League Baseball debut because it came at such a steep cost to the entire black community, a cost that is so enormous that we still to this day do not have an accurate tally. In fact, the vast majority of us are unaware of the tremendous collateral damage that the integration of the Major Leagues had upon the entire community.

Dr. James Thomas Jones III

© Manhood, Race, and Culture, 2017.

The Resurrection of Charlie Strong: What it Says about America’s View Regarding Black Professionals and their Ability to Serve as Leaders

One of the most difficult things for anyone, particularly an African-American male to bounce back from a failure in their professional lives. This matter becomes unbelievably more complicated when the alluded to failure occurs on a national stage in front of one’s peer group. It is inevitable that failure will befall some unlucky chap from time-to-time.

Historically speaking, when a failure occurs for an African-American coach in either a professional league or at a major collegiate campus they are usually never provided another such opportunity. As an alum of The Ohio State University, my mind reverts to the turmoil within our men’s basketball program that ultimately led to the dismissal of Randy Ayers, an individual who would never again serve as a head basketball coach.

Well-meaning mentors have historically taught burgeoning African-American professionals that they have no room for error in their professional endeavors as one errant step could ruin their present position and any future opportunities. Historically speaking, African-American professionals, regardless of the venue they are operating within are expected to be beyond perfect; a demand that no one could ever achieve. It is amazing that more African-American professionals have not cracked under pressure to achieve perfection.

News that the University of South Florida is seriously considering Charlie Strong for its head coaching position is noteworthy because it proves that one professional failure such as the one that Charlie Strong experienced at the University of Texas is no longer the end of the road. America should celebrate this occurrence as it proves that this nation has lessened its grip upon old stereotypes that questioned African-Americans ability to fulfill leadership roles.

When placed within the larger context of American race relations, the belief that African-Americans possess the make-up to serve in leadership positions by whites is something that must be noted and then applauded.

Dr. James Thomas Jones III

It’s Bigger Than Football: Why Charlie Strong is Representative of SO MANY Mis-guided African-Americans

From the moment that the ‘good folks’ at the University of Texas (UT) settled, and yes I do mean settled, for Charlie Strong as their new head football coach I knew that he was doomed.

Actually, when I heard that Strong accepted the UT job, I openly questioned what in the world could he have been thinking? There was no conceivable way that Charlie Strong should have left the charlie-strong-1University of Louisville in favor of becoming the head football coach at the University of Texas; the only way that such a move made any sense was that maybe, just maybe, Strong was oblivious to the racial realities that governed the great state of Texas. There is a popular saying that says, “everything is bigger in Texas”; and after living in this state for over a decade, I must agree that this state’s unofficial mantra has to be ‘either go big or go home’. Unfortunately for those blacks seeking association with whites, such extremism applies to racial matters within the great state of Texas. I privately hoped that prior to signing his Faustian deal, someone who had Charlie Strong’s best interests at heart would kindly remind him that Austin, with all of its liberal elements, was still located within “the great state of Texas.”

As stated above, things were bound to be particularly funky for Strong at UT when one considers that he was not even on the ‘short list’ of candidates that tremendously influential alumni and boosters felt capable of addressing the Herculean task of reconstructing the University of Texas Longhorn football program that Mack Brown had run into the ground.

There is no clearer sign that the most powerful elements of the University of Texas community were greatly disappointed with Strong’s selection than the vitriolic rhetoric hurled at the new hire by longtime Longhorn booster Red McCombs. McCombs referred to Strong’s hire as a “kick in the face” to boosters such as himself by UT administrators.

According to McCombs, the former owner of the San Antonio Spurs, Denver Nuggets, Minnesota Vikings and co-founder of Clear Channel Communications, “I think the whole thing (the hiring of Charlie Strong) is a bit sideways. I don’t have any doubt that Charlie is a fine coach. I think he would make a great position coach, maybe a coordinator. But I don’t believe [he belongs at] what should be one of the three most powerful university programs in the world right now at UT-Austin.”

Unfortunately for Charlie Strong, he failed to understand that the duties associated with being the University of Texas head football red-mccombscoach extended further than the gridiron. The UT position, like most prestigious athletic positions, is akin to an ambassador position that requires socializing with and winning over wealthy boosters and alumni who under other circumstances would have little, if anything, to do with African-Americans or the issues facing the young Black males who serve at their behest on the gridiron. Put simply, such individuals have carefully crafted lives and social circles that by design do not include African-Americans. It is for such reasons that racially conscious African-Americans realized that it was only a matter of time before trouble and turmoil found Strong in Austin. Sadly, Black America has seen this scenario unfold in a host of arenas.

There is an unspoken truth among African-Americans that is rarely discussed in the presence of “mixed-company” that goes like this, success and longevity for African-Americans at an institution such as the University of Texas or even a mundane job hinges less upon their ability to fulfill the job duties and more upon their ability to fit within the dominant work culture.

Although it is rarely commented upon in public, conforming to and accepting the denigration that naturally flows from a socially offensive and outrageously discriminatory dominant culture is the path that African-American professionals must travel if they have any real aspirations to “get ahead” in America.

Unfortunately for African-Americans, their foolish decision to focus exclusively on integration and not pursue entrepreneurial endeavors at every turn has left them largely beggars, if not parasitic, in regards to employment opportunities from an often hostile white community that consistently verbalizes its unwillingness to share economic resources.

Nevertheless, whites hostility toward a figure such as Charlie Strong or any other African-American working in their midst rarely results in ut-3the vanquishing of Negroes from their presence. In many ways it appears that Negroes are more committed to working for, spending their money with, living among, and forcing themselves into white social circles than they are at either providing a future for future generations of Black America or healing themselves from the damages that result from their interactions with an overtly hostile white America.

In the end, I guess it is to be expected that Strong, and millions of others, will continue their dastardly fight to maintain their close, yet not quite intimate, association with an overtly hostile white community, it is what Negroes do after all.

What is most saddening of all is that I really do not think that Negroes such as Charlie Strong know any better; and I tell you, it is late in the game to be that damn stupid or naïve.

Dan Freeman

© Manhood, Race, and Culture, 2016.

SPEAKING TRUTH TO WHITE POWER: WHY UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN-MADISON CHANCELLOR BLANKS SHOULD BE APPLAUDED FOR HER LEADERSHIP AND HOW OTHERS SHOULD FOLLOW IT TO A NEW ERA OF AMERICAN RACIAL DYNAMICS

Let me be absolutely clear in what I am saying, because neither you nor I can afford to miss this point, the Race issues that divide this nation were in effect prior to the formation of the United States of dubois2America and the arrival of the first ‘half-free’ Africans in 1619 and should therefore never be expected to die a quick death. Put simply, racial discord on the North American continent predates the founding of America and the enslavement of Africans. So it stands to reason that the ‘Color Line’ great scholar W.E.B. DuBois’ prophesized would be this nation’s foremost problem throughout the 20th-Century would enjoy an unusually long life of relevancy and extend into the 21st-Century. It is obvious that Race sit at the core of African-Americans exponentially increasing politico economic issues. There is also no denying that a rapidly diversifying nation should expect increased levels of racial animosity, if not hatred.

The socially constructed antiquated Race paradigms of yesteryear were not designed to deal with a highly-diverse populace that is no longer segregated by either law or custom. Americans now live in a world where it is no longer contradictory or even note-worthy to encounter individuals whose identity would have not existed even a half-century ago; at least not publicly. However, it is no longer shocking to find individuals in possession of the following characteristics: (an ordained minister, Black, female, married, and Gay) or (Baptist, Bi-sexual, socially conservative, political progressive, who opposes Gay marriage). To the chagrin of many older Americans, the world they knew has been turned on its head and will never return.

Indicative of the unusual situations that one finds in contemporary American society is the presence of emboldened, boisterous, and politically astute African-American collegiate-athletes in lily-white locales such as the University of Wisconsin-Madison. If we believe this nation’s storied-history of racial animosity, it should be expected that significant strife will result from African-American students living lives that are invariably ‘touching’ or being ‘touched’ by an overwhelmingly white community. Put simply, the above scenario is a veritable Pandora’s Box of racial strife and discord.

However, all is not lost as many whites arrive at sporting venues to cheer the Black athlete representing their beloved university on either the gridiron or the hardwood. Unfortunately, those euphoric feelings that are so commonly found in this nation’s sporting venues never exit this nation’s arena/stadium. In many ways, sporting events provide a much-needed reprieve from the raging racial and cultural wars that so many of our white brethren are engaged in.

When you really think about it, whites cheering for African-American male athletes is the ultimate paradox. Here you have wisconsin-footballexuberant whites who have somehow carved a space in their minds that allows for them to cheer Black bodies in motion on a sports field while still reserving prejudiced thoughts that they may very well hurl at these same individuals’ moments after the game’s conclusion.

It is this absurd scenario that was fully displayed during a recent gridiron contest between the Wisconsin Badgers and the Nebraska Cornhuskers. The alluded to incident included a rabid Wisconsin fan who donned a Halloween costume that centered upon masks of President Barack Hussein Obama and Hillary Clinton with a noose around their necks; an associate of this individual donned a Donald Trump mask and led him around by a noose.

Someway, somehow, these two individuals managed to create room in their underdeveloped minds to simultaneously offer polarizing political commentary regarding their obvious desire to hang this nation’s first African-American President from the closest tree, while also cheering on young African-American male football players toting the pigskin down the gridiron for their favorite team.

To their credit, several University of Wisconsin student-athletes took the initiative to publicly address this matter via social media and demand some type of reform from University administrators.

It is during moments such as this that victims of such unprovoked attacks can unwisely allow their frustrations to crescendo and lead them to recklessly blame all whites for the actions of a single wisconsin-football-4individual; according to the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., heightened emotions often leads to one’s failure to discern between the actions of a singular individual and the entire population. Hence, during such moments of inflamed racial animosity, it is critical that white leaders, in this case the Chancellor of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, quickly step forward and definitively illuminate an appropriate path that their university community must walk. This grievous moment fell onto the shoulders of Rebecca Blank, the Chancellor of the University of Wisconsin-Madison. To her credit, Chancellor Blank responded in the following manner.

I am personally very sorry that the hurt that this incident and our response to it has caused. I have heard from students, faculty and community members who are dissatisfied with our response, and I understand why. A noose is the symbol of some of the worst forms of racial hatred and intimidation in our country’s history. We understand this, and we should have communicated that more forcefully from the very beginning. … I understand the deeply hurtful impact this particularly has on our students and communities of color.

In a nation that is still plagued by DuBois’ cryptic prophesy regarding the ‘Color Line’ it is vital that white leaders lead the way in addressing the prejudice, discrimination, bigotry, and racism emanating from their community. Make no mistake about it, the vast majority of racial discord can in one way or another be traced to individuals, policies, decisions, and/or events emanating from the white community; therefore, it is upon their shoulders to not only address, but also work toward healing their woefully sick brethren who view racial animosity and antagonisms as essential to their earthly existence as food and water.

The silence of white power-brokers on racial matters is akin to a consensual agreement with the worst scourges of their community; elements that they ironically do not associate with even behind wisconsin-football-2closed-doors. Chancellor Blank’s leadership and decision to issue a bold public statement is a major step in the correct direction, however, it is only a single-step that must be repeatedly replicated by whites if this nation hopes to close its cavernous racial divide. Obviously there is much work to be done, however, it all begins with a conversation. Now it is time for the entire nation to understand that although it begins with a conversation, the struggle for racial equality does not end with that initial conversation.

Dr. James Thomas Jones III

© Manhood, Race and Culture, 2016.