Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Americas Most Disliked Athletes/Race in Sports


Here is a list done this week (2/8/2012) of the country's top 10 most hated athletes:

1. Michael Vick (Dog Fighting incidents of 2007)
2. Tiger Woods (admitted to adultery in 2009)
3. Plaxico Burress (shot HIMSELF in the leg back in 2008)
4. Ndamukong Suh (has a history of being a dirty player, stomped on a player this past season after the play)
5. Kris Humphries (married/separated from Kim Kardashian)
6. LeBron James (left his home town team to join his friends and pursue a title, taking LESS money)
7. Kobe Bryant (Caught cheating on his wife in 2003, traded verbal spars with Shaquille O'Neal, very confident persona)
8. Terrell Owens (Confident athlete, never been in any real trouble other than his boasting in the NFL)
9. Alex Rodriguez (Admitted to using steroids in 2009)
10. Kurt Busch (is known for his temper, fighting with fellow drivers and for his obscenity laced tirades with the media, as recently as late 2011)

- 8 African African/Part African American, 1 Dominican, 1 Caucasian

"The black athlete is America's pit bull....the pit bull is the kind of animal that can be lovable, and you can sit back and relish on the strength and beauty of the animal, but as soon as he bites you in the leg, you want to put it asleep."

Every year these lists come out, and every year I am reminded of how much race affects people's perceptions still in this country. In prior lists, we have seen Latrell Sprewell, Barry Bonds, Ron Artest all atop this list. This just in: black/minority athletes are not the only athletes committing adultery, doing steroids, having cocky flamboyant personalities, or getting in trouble with the law. I broke down above a summary of what these athletes are on this list for, and as you notice there are 3 athletes on this list who have done absolutely nothing in my opinion to be on this list (5,6,8). The only 2 incidents on here that occurred just this last year are from 10 and 4, and as I stated this list was made just this past week.

Let's group the offenses, let's 1st look at off the field/legal troubles. To me, these are true reasons to potentially hate an athlete, and shouldn't even be comparable to a Kris Humphries/Lebron James offense (who are both on this list obviously) . The athletes above who fall under that category are Vick/Plaxico/Kobe. Who is not on this list that would fall under that category? For one, Ben Roethlisberger. He has had 3 run ins with the law, and for what he did he served a 6 game suspension. This most recent of Ben's incidents came in 2010, which is more recent than all of these as well, it was the 2nd of 2 sexual assault allegations. I won't judge whose crimes were worse, but shooting yourself in the leg is a self inflicted crime, and came before Ben's last incident, which should be more fresh on your mind I would think.

The 2nd type of offense would be nothing off of the field, just your general personality/confidence that rubs people the wrong way. Terrell Owens/Kurt Busch/Suh/Kris Humphries would fall under this category. Who does not? Brett Favre for one, who has toyed with the NFL's owners and fans for years for his own selfish benefit, and takes no pass when having the opportunity to toot his own horn or throw Aaron Rodgers under the bus. Carson Palmer also just this past season demanded a trade, sat out of training camp with not even half of the media attention Terrell Owens received when demanding to leave the Eagles. Kurt Busch has taken his personality issues to the next level, physically getting into numerous altercations with fellow drivers, which Terrell Owens has not done (speculation vs. McNabb), so it seems his offenses are worse, and far more recent, although he is further down the list. Brett Favre also falls under the 3rd category, which is adultery/marital issues in the public (Kobe Bryant, Tiger Woods, Kris Humphries), which is the dumbest offense to me. Tiger Woods marital issues are really none of my business, but it does grab attention, as did Brett Favre's sexts that were sent out. The 4th would be performance enhancing drugs, which per the Mitchell Report was almost common practice in MLB for a period of time, which A Rod (minority) and Barry Bonds have been persecuted for, while the Andy Pettite/Ryan Braun and Brian Cushings of the world would never make this list.

I am not saying all of these guys on this list shouldn't be there, I am saying you are naive to think that it's just by chance most of these athletes are minorities. It's your opinion as to whether Tiger sexting or Favre sexting is worse than the other, but what we can't debate is that the same rules don't apply. Kris Humphries should not be on this list under any circumstances, neither should Lebron James or Terrell Owens. These guys have done nothing against the law, and if you can find something morally wrong with what they have done I would like to hear it. Confidence should not make you dislike someone, there are plenty of white athletes with confidence (Jay Cutler/Kevin Love/Jared Allen) who are not on this list, who wouldn't make the top 150 most disliked athletes list. I am aware that media/social coverage has a lot to do with this, Lebron James "decision" to go with the Miami Heat was on national television, cameras were camped outside of TO's house during a holdout, and Kris Humphries has a weekly reality show making him look like a bad guy. Tie that in with the fact that a lot of top athletes are minorities, and there you have a lot of the problem. But fans need to take the same magnifying glass they judge all of these athletes with, and look deeper into the media coverage, at least before you vote on which athletes you dislike.

The general public does not forget about what minority athletes do, and are not very forgiving at all. Michael Vick had a MVP type season last year, his great play since the incident obviously hasn't made people forget about what he did, which was no doubt terrible. The CEO of the Humane Society has forgiven him and applauded him for his work speaking out against dog fighting since then. Athletes like him and other minority athletes, having to bend over backwards to rebuild their image, community service and charity work is just the tip of the iceberg for them, although the work goes unnoticed.

Here are some questions to ask yourself:

-Would a black sports commentator be allowed back on the air 3 years later after sexual assault and sodomy charges? (Marv Albert)
-Would a black head coach be allowed to coach the next week after a DUI charge and keep his job? (Gary Pinkel)
-Would a black athlete be allowed to knock up a Hooters waitress while he is married with hardly any media attention? (Chipper Jones)
-Would a black athlete be able to use heavy drugs like cocaine/meth/heroin and not have his image tainted? (Chris Anderson/Matt Jones)
-If a black player flips off the crowd during a game, would he NOT be suspended or  leading every sports segment? (AJ Hawk)
-If 2 black coaches got into a physical altercation after a game would there not be an attack on their judgment or suspension? (Jim Harbaugh/Jim Schwartz)
-Would a black Olympian caught smoking weed on camera still be America's gold medal darling? (Michael Phelps)
-Would a white athlete be one of America's most hated athletes just from getting a separation from his wife? (Kris Humphries)

I believe the black athlete is indeed America's pit bull, and I believe the stereotypes that are still there about minorities in general affect people's perceptions of minority athletes, and it's just that simple. I don't believe this will ever change, a black athlete will get caught with a gun, and the perception that we all carry guns will be thrown in. Don't be naive to it people, the perception of black athletes is just ONE of the many examples of perceptions still alive today.

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