Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Remember what happened on that day…

A couple of memorable events took place on Saturday, December 10, 2011.  When the time is right, our memory banks will be relied on to recall what took place on that day and perhaps we will begin to question how information is presented to us in the news. 

The first and most important reason I will remember that day is because my beautiful, sweet, loving, caring and wonderful mother celebrated her 57th birthday! I want to ensure my mom is healthy enough to stay around for around for another 57 or so years, so I presented her with a membership to a fitness club, which turned out to be “The best gift a son could give a mother for her birthday!”
That day will also be remembered for a couple of significant events that took place in the sports world. 
Baylor University quarterback Robert Griffin III won the 77th Heisman Memorial Trophy as the Most Outstanding College Football Player in 2011.  It was encouraging to watch the underdog win the big one for a change.  Griffin presented himself in a manner that any parent would be proud of.  The type of child parents prays for. 
The new face of Baylor University will hopefully erase the negativity of scandals involving a basketball player who was murdered by his teammate, and a coach who was fired for trying to portray his murdered player as a drug dealer.  We will remember that day because in his acceptance of the Heisman Trophy, Griffin displayed the characteristics more young men should strive to emulate. 
We will also remember that day for the fight that broke out between basketball players from Xavier University and the University of Cincinnati near the end of regulation.  Just when we thought the skirmish on the court was bad enough, the press conference afterwards was even worse.  This fight was about a war of words that eventually turned into a physical confrontation, which exhibited how immature these young men were in handling the situation.
As I watched the coverage of the altercation, my immediate thoughts took me back to the 2004 brawl between the Indiana Pacers and the Detroit Pistons and how much negative media attention it attracted.  It then occurred to me that there is an obvious double standard in relation to how fighting in different sports is covered.
For example, fighting during a hockey game is applauded and the players are celebrated for their toughness and physicality.  Once the fight has ended, the players are sent to the penalty box for a short period of time and if the fight was “good enough” it might be nominated as the top play of the day. 
The game is not ended; and the players aren’t ejected, suspended, or fined in most cases.  There is a mentality floating around in the atmosphere that somehow justifies fighting in hockey and demonizes fighting in other sports, with baseball being the other sport where bench clearing brawls are OK.
A hockey player was quoted in an article I was reading by saying, "It was great to see Tom and Garth step up and fight. They set the tone and let them know that isn't going to happen all game. We expect the same battle on Sunday."

The writer of the article then proceeds to praise the players who got into two separate fights, one second apart. 

“Both tough guys dropped the gloves on back-to-back face-offs.” I am willing to bet that the writer covering this hockey game was one of the main critics who came out blasting the basketball players for their actions on the court.

This rhetoric sounds very similar to the equally ignorant and childish statement from an Xavier player made during the post-fight press conference.

We’re not going to sit there and get our face beat in by somebody like Yancy Gates. We won't let that happen.”

The media coverage of the Xavier-Cincinnati fight is flat out hypocritical, but the actions of the players played right into the hands of the social stigmas related to violence within the African American community. The actions of players from both teams were a check in the box for the people who continue to push the negative young black male stereotype.

Remember what happened on that day because the next time you see a bench clearing brawl break out in another sport, pay attention to how the brawl is covered by the media.  Think about how the fight at the end of the Xavier-Cincinnati basketball game was covered and how fighting in other sports is justified.

I am willing to bet that the terminology associated with the people in those fights won’t include the words ‘gangstas’ or ‘thugs’ or ‘street brawl’.  Think about it and remember where you heard it first.

Originally published by Steve Maynor Jr. on December 13, 2011 via Blogger.com

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