Friday Fire: Is Black Sports Writing Gone Forever?

Click on the pic to find out who this great man was.

Coming on the heels of Cole Wiley’s interview and speaking with many journalists on the subject, one has to wonder if the Black voice is dead in the context of sports writing. I could write 10,000 words on the subject obviously, but a discussion here should have a similar impact.

Check this article out where Spike Lee chimes in on a subject near and dear to TSF hearts. Honestly, there really shouldn’t be a need for The Starting Five, but in this horrible writing climate (yeah I’m talking about the pack once again), there has to be some sort of check and balance (or just an objective voice) our size and popularity withstanding. I’m not apologizing for revisiting this over and over and over. Something has to be done. We must care about how our history is written or it will be forgotten like Garrett Morgan, Elijah McCoy and Granville T. Woods.

We don’t have job security in the field, so there is nothing to protect…just to achieve.

There are more great quarterbacks than Montana, Marino and Elway.

Tell ’em Mos!

Bob Gibson arguably was the best pitcher of all time.

Randy Moss deserved more Offensive Player of the Year and MVP votes than Brett Favre last season.

Steve Nash did not deserve two consecutive MVP awards and Dirk shouldn’t have won one either.

Ricky Rubio does not deserve number one pick consideration.

Tavaris Jackson deserves more of a shot. Eli Manning was 0-2 to start the season last year.

Clarence “Big House” Gaines, Eddie Robinson, John Chaney and John Thompson’s names should be mentioned when speaking of the college coaching pantheon. I guarantee you those who are included would say so.

Mickey Mantle’s baseball card should not be worth more than Reggie Jackson, Willie Mays and Hank Aaron’s combined.

Should I not care about a kid who wanted to emulate Barry Bonds‘ timing mechanism sans steroid scrutiny?

If Barry Bonds played for the Yankees this season, they would be in the playoffs. Instead of writing this, Black sports writers wrote with the pack. That’s absurd.

Albert Belle deserved MVP in 1995.

Tim Duncan is not the best power forward of all time.

Ryan Howard is the 2008 National League MVP.

Michael Vick is in jail so the model of his athleticism and powerful arm are behind bars with him?

What are your thoughts here? I know some of you are going to give typically reasonable responses, and I would love to hear from Whites on the subject. Do you want Blacks shaping your view point of sports? Do you think we offer a biased perspective, rendering the Black voice immaterial in your eyes? Can Blacks write objectively without being apologists or disparate?

Here’s two questions I posed to LeBron. It is our responsibility to challenge athletes as well for history’s sake. As you can see, he doesn’t like the questions…

I’m at the 5:00 mark…

86 Responses to “Friday Fire: Is Black Sports Writing Gone Forever?”

  1. Big Man says:

    Cedric Benson got cleared on all charges. But if you read ESPN’s article you will discover that it was probably because he’s a celebrity.

    I hate them so much.

  2. Matthew Fudge says:

    Of course, we don’t need biased sportswriting from black sportswriting. We just need honest, objective writing from black reporters. We need to see points of view that isn’t white and middle-aged. Is it possible that biases exist? Sure. It’s called human nature. Objectivity in journalism is fine as an ideal, but in reality, we’re all shaped by our experiences, environment, and prejudices. Objectivity is what every reporter, regardless of race or creed, should strive for.

  3. Mizzo says:

    Is there objectivity in the current climate of sports writing?

  4. Matthew Fudge says:

    To a degree, yes Miz. Are reporters always objective, whether they write about news, sports, etc? Not at all. There is no such thing as true freedom of speech or the press. Hasn’t been for a while now.

  5. Mizzo says:

    Pardon me but I find your response a little vague. Objective in what sense?

  6. Matthew Fudge says:

    Objectivity in journalism simply means to report the facts about a person or a situation without any hint of bias or prejudice.

  7. antone says:

    There’s only 100% objectivity in sports writing when talking about white athletes. I’m nobody important ,so I’m willing to say it. I have nothing to lose. People fear/hate what they don’t understand, instead of taking the time to think about why someone might take the actions they do.

    I believe Albert Belle should be in the Hall of Fame, never mind MVP. I am one of the few who believes this, but I don’t care if he was an asshole or not. That’s not for me to judge. The man could hit with the best of them.

    If Giambi can still get to play then Bonds should be able to play too. Why accept one and not the other? In some ways I dont blame the owners…I think the owners are more scared off by the fans and the media perception of Bonds then Bonds himself.

    Steve Nash shouldn’t have sniffed an MVP. No defense = no MVP. It’s pretty clear why he won whether the people who voted for him realize it or not.

    I still like Pujols over Howard for MVP though but I guess that could be a matter of opinion if you think the MVP should come from a playoff team.

  8. Mizzo says:

    @Matthew Fudge

    So how does that translate to today’s sports writing climate?

  9. Mizzo says:

    I could live with Pujols Antone, but no one else.

  10. Matthew Fudge says:

    “Only 100% objectivity in sports writing when talking about white athletes”? You’re preaching to the choir, Antone. Which is why there has to be more black sportswriters writing about black athletes from a black perspective, period. Even if a white sportswriter has empathy and is objective, I can’t expect him or her to really understand what black athletes go through. Does that mean we don’t call B.S. when they screw up? Of course not. But the reporting as a whole wouldn’t be so one-sided.

  11. antone says:

    Yeah, I don’t see anyone else you could make a strong case for if it’s not Pujols or Howard.

  12. Mizzo says:

    “Even if a white sportswriter has empathy and is objective, I can’t expect him or her to really understand what black athletes go through.”

    That’s an important point because it shouldn’t be on White writers to catalog Black history. It’s on us and I personally feel those who are Black haven’t only dropped the ball, but popped that shit.

  13. Matthew Fudge says:

    One other thing, Antone: too many people nowadays are too friggin’ lazy to think for themselves as far as figuring out why someone might take the actions they do. To do that would mean putting yourself in another person’s shoes. To do that would mean you’d have to put your own prejudices aside. To do that would mean possibly saying to yourself, “I was wrong.” Not enough people (in the US anyway) are willing to put themselves out there. That’s why Americans still can’t have open, honest discussions about anything volatile, whether it be about race, religion, or politics.

  14. Mizzo says:

    I’m doing an interview. Please, please continue this discussion if you can.

  15. antone says:

    You’re preaching to the choir, Antone. Which is why there has to be more black sportswriters writing about black athletes from a black perspective, period. Even if a white sportswriter has empathy and is objective, I can’t expect him or her to really understand what black athletes go through. Does that mean we don’t call B.S. when they screw up? Of course not. But the reporting as a whole wouldn’t be so one-sided.
    I don’t really expect them to understand what black athletes go through but I think the writers shouldn’t be so quick to bash someone and they should at least make an effort to educate themselves. I’d rather have them write nothing at all then write something negative without having full knowledge of what’s going on. The one problem with all of this is that the majority of the country is going to side with them, so it’s almost an impossible battle. Maybe things will change with the younger generation who has grown up a lot different then your older generation but even then we could be talking about an urban versus suburban thing. This country is divided in so many different ways that it can be scary at times.

  16. Matthew Fudge says:

    Antone, that’s exactly what I’m talking about: for reporting to be objective, you do have to educate yourself. You have to think outside the box. You have to ask questions. You have to put your thoughts out there and risk being wrong. But too many people in MSM are unwilling to do that. That’s why I love sites like TSF and That’s also why I admire and respect Bill Maher. There’s too little intelligent, thought-provoking discussions in this country.

  17. Black voices in sportswriting, authentic black voices, are more and more necessary with the mass of the viewing public being white, the ownership being white, and the majority of the players being black.

    There is a fundamental disconnect among many sports journalists that is similar to political journalism, where they tend to lean towards those in power and control (ownership, management), and are apologists for them because they rely on the access provided.

    Many of these journalists do not see the athletes as complete people outside of their sport, much as political journalists do not see ordinary citizens outside of the Washington, D.C. bubble as anything more than voting blocs in a narrative.

    Black voices that understand the unique and sordid history of America and can place that in context to today are sorely needed. Same goes for women, Latinos, any minority voice that can balance out the pro-power slant that exists across the spectrum.

    Oh, and Mizzo, I gotta go Pujols on the NL MVP. Howard was in a horrific slump for the first three months. If it were a second half MVP, Howard would be in it with Manny Ramirez and Carlos Delgado, but it’s all about a full season to me — and Pujols was one of two guys (Ryan Ludwick the other) who kept the Cards in the Wild Card race when they had no business being in it with their depleted pitching staff.

  18. Matthew Fudge says:

    “There is a fundamental disconnect among many sports journalists that is similar to political journalism, where they tend to lean towards those in power and control (ownership, management), and are apologists for them because they rely on the access provided.”

    True, Signal. It’s easier to bash Barry Bonds for using steriods rather than put the hammer to Peter Magowan and Bud Selig when they were clearly more culpable. You create and enforce rules to protect people from themselves. Rules that aren’t enforced is the same as having no rules at all. Why would anyone expect Barry to not use when everyone looked the other way when he did?

  19. antone says:

    I’m still pissed at Selig for letting McGwire make a mockery of the HR record…which then probably led Bonds to taking steroids and breaking the record himself…but at that point I can’t even blame him…Bonds only crime is that he was so much better than all the other guys taking steroids that he became better than Babe Ruth instead of merely just a great player.

  20. Matthew Fudge says:

    Sure, he let McGwire make a mockery of the record. Sentimentality doesn’t pay the bills – money does. McGwire (and the Latino Uncle Tomas) hit home runs, people came, checks cleared, and everyone walked away happy. Nobody’s giving any money back. You can’t uncash a check. Someone should ask Lupica if he plans on giving back the money he made writing “Summer of ’98” the next time he bashes Bonds again.

  21. Eric Daniels says:

    I think there needs to be a geniune Black voice in reporting whether is sports, politcal,music or local writing and more black voices in the editoral sections. Whites in this country feel that if a black person has an opinion that shows empathy towards the African- American community he/she is biased, well I got news for everyone on this board and anyone else who is lurking here, “THERE ARE NO OBJECTIVE REPORTERS” !!! because people have their own values, opinions and attitudes on life and how the world should function and even if you get a few white reporters who have some compassion and is fair towards their black/latin/asian subjects most will reflect the values of their ethnic group.

    I get riled up when people say The Beatles are the greatest band of all- time and Sinatra it’s greatest singer and I say “by what standard”, when I can rattte off musicans and artists who impact on popular music is more profound than either act and when I say P-Funk is the greatest Band and Marvin Gaye and Bob Marley are the greatest singer because their music has inspired musicans, writers and people of all races and walks of life I get this “whaaa” because they are so caught up in themselves they can’t see another viewpoint outside of what the MSWM has fed them. Yes, there needs to be more balance and Black, Hispanic and Asian journalists working in the field.

    And no more kiss-asses like Whitlock, Sharpe, Wall and Rivera

  22. Matthew Fudge says:

    Eric, God forbid if you ever say that James Brown was a better performer than Elvis. The Rolling Stones didn’t even want to go onstage after James when the Godfather ripped it up in concert one night. But saying Elvis wasn’t the greatest thing since sliced bread is blasphemous to white people.

  23. Eric Daniels says:

    James Brown was the front man every singer wanted to be and everyone has been influenced by JB’S prescence along with his musical innovations (which are many) Elvis was a wannabe Wyonnie Harris whose stage act Pressley stole along with Billy Ecsktine’s clothing and look.

  24. Temple3 says:

    I’m not going to say it.

  25. Matthew Fudge says:

    Say what?

  26. Temple3 says:

    The Signal to Noise went up, but folks don’t seem to hear. I hear the man. Say it again.

  27. Sly and the Family Stone kicked Bob and the Wailers of their tour when they opened for Sly because they were tearing it up.

    When Sly kicks you off tour you’re doing something right.

  28. Mizzo says:

    I’m Black and I’m proud!

    I hear you on Pujos, but damn if this cat didn’t approach 50 and 150. In today’s game, those numbers are simply astounding. Howard is doing things that have never been done to start a career. He’s hitting late game dingers that probably will propel the Phillies into the playoffs.

    See this is what I’m talking about, but I’m sure others would scream bias to the high heavens if Blacks had a balancing voice in the game.

    Willie Totten deserves more historical acclaim than he’s received.

    My Pop says it all the time that the goal posts get pushed back whenever someone Black is up for anything nationally recognized.

    It’s like point shaving and history is rewritten because of it.

    Kordel when he won with the Hail Mary bomb threw the rock over 80 yards against Michigan. Why isn’t that mentioned among the greatest plays (in any sport) of all time? I’ll add it to the bottom of the piece. Check the yard marker.

  29. thebrotherreport says:

    On the Pujols/Howard issue. Howard put the Phils on his back late in the season. He’s been there all season, strikeouts, etc. But I dare call him a clutch player. He’s shown up when it counts. Every year, you can’t even say that about Mike Schmidt.

    The Cards aren’t even in the running, when Howard won it the Phils missed the WC by one game, St. Louis can’t sniff the postseason.

    Also Howard might’ve won it last season, he missed about a month early in the season.

  30. Okori says:

    maybe i missed the answer to this question but permit me to ask it anyway: If Tim Duncan isn’t the best power forward of all time who is? and if someone even breathes letters that add up to the words Karl Malone I am going to run around this place hitting palm strikes on whoever stands in my way.

  31. Eric Daniels says:

    To me the greatest Power Forward in the history of Basketball sure ain’t Tim Duncan or Karl Malone it’s Elvin Hayes

  32. Miranda says:

    “Many of these journalists do not see the athletes as complete people outside of their sport, much as political journalists do not see ordinary citizens outside of the Washington, D.C. bubble as anything more than voting blocs in a narrative.”

    Nuff said.

  33. Okori says:

    see to me greatest and most accomplished is a different thing.

    I’d argue that the most skilled power forward is Elvin Hayes but the most accomplished is Tim Duncan.

  34. origin says:

    Great points everyone.

    And Mizzo your dad is so right about that moving of the goal post. He must have had the same talk with sista miranda because she always mentions that. 🙂

    But like Mr. Rhoden said these athletes are nothing more then 40 million dollar slaves. Many of these so called black writers are nothing more then 1/2 a million or million dollar slaves. They sale their soul to the highest bidder to me a mammy or yes sir man. They would cut another black persons throat just to get ahead.

  35. origin says:

    Oh and Duncan ain’t no power forward. Center yes PF no.

    Oh and Mizzo did you hear Dirks comments about Avery?

    Boy wait till he gets a load of Rick Carlise (sp?).

  36. Mizzo says:

    Thank you Origin. You are the first to say this.

    That’s the point I was trying to make by adding that statement about Duncan. It’s like some writers are trying to make a place for him in history.

    Nah I didn’t hear about Dirk. I’ll check that and get back.

  37. Temple3 says:


    I’m not going to say anything about the irrationality of expecting a job from people who believe themselves physically inferior to you — and intellectually inferior to a rising competitors from the East (China/India – 2.5M, 2.3M college grads each year vs. 1.3M in the US). What’s left for these people other than ruthlessness?

    We have all these black folk who absolutely dominate professional athletics, all these college graduates with keyboards who can write, we have dirt cheap cyber space, and folks are actually complaining about the voice of black sportswriters. It’s probably a good thing that most of those writers for the Chicago Defender and Pittsburgh Courier are D-E-A-D. If old age didn’t kill them, this surely, surely would.

  38. Temple3 says:

    The funniest thing about the Pujols – Howard question is that if Pujols were born in the US and didn’t speak Spanish, he’d be considered Black.

    I do long for the days when the African family loves itself enough to merely recognize one another across imaginary lines of language, national border and skin tone.

    One day.

  39. KevDog says:

    Nice convo

    Just a couple of points.

    Franks sounds like a little boy compared to Billie Holiday. Frank was great, Billie GOAT

    I vote for Pujols too. His numbers are simply better than everybody elses.

    JB was great, but Elvis was a genius. Trust me, as an entertainer, Brown had him beat, but the young Elvis as a singer was the greatest Rock and Roll singer ever….by a mile. Gp check out his early stuff, I mean 1955-1958, before he started making movies. Dude was true to the game. Check out Pops-“Up the Lazy River.” Then check out Elvis-“It’s alright.” Nobody knows it, but the young Elvis was the Yound Louis’s son.

    Yeah, your point makes sense. McCain was so concerned with “winning” the war last night that he failed to recognize that the US won the war in the first few days, it’s the so-called peace-making and Democracy-building that’s the bugaboo.

  40. KevDog says:

    Oh I almost forgot

    “Sound track to Superfly’ >>> “What’s goin’ on”

  41. origin says:

    Temple says

    “The funniest thing about the Pujols – Howard question is that if Pujols were born in the US and didn’t speak Spanish, he’d be considered Black.

    I do long for the days when the African family loves itself enough to merely recognize one another across imaginary lines of language, national border and skin tone.

    One day.”

    So true brotha Temple. Mitch albom is probably the only MSM sports writer who I have ever heard even say that black latin players were even black.

    I remember him talking about the lack of black american players in baseball and said that actually there are plenty of black players in baseball. They just happen to be latin.

    The first and only time I agreed with that fool Albom.

    On a side not Temple thats what happens when black folks throughout the world have had to deal with colonialism……it f#$%s up the mind of black folk.

    And folks wonder why black cubans supported the cuban revolution so much. While white cubans here hate castro till this day.

    However there are black individuals and organizations in countries like mexico, cuba, brazil and other coutries who are trying to bridge the gap and bring about black self awareness. From rappers like Tego Calderon to organizations like Criola.

    Check out this article Temple

  42. Jemele says:

    I agree with several of the points made here. Sports reporters should be more objective and probe deeper, particularly when we know we’re being fed bull.
    Not to absolve myself or anyone else in this profession, but I do feel compelled to provide some defense, or at least understanding.
    Sports journalism is such a different world than it used to be. But not just on the reporting end. Athletes have changed dramatically. Access to athletes, even more so. And really, it’s the access aspect that has probably had the most tremendous influence on what we write and what readers consume.
    It’s harder to build a total perspective of an athlete when you have to go through a team publicist, that athlete’s spokesperson, his boys, etc. I read Roger Kahn’s “The Boys Of Summer,” and I was just stunned at the level of access he had to the team he covered. They all stayed in the same hotel, ate meals together and while some could argue that perhaps the objectivity was compromised, the fact remains he was able to deliver compassion and respect for the people he covered.
    But that mutual respect between subject and reporter is gone because we’re simply not put into the position to ever develop it.
    The relationship between reporters and athletes is much more adverserial. No question, we bear some of the blame. It’s a bigger pie available for sports writers, and some of us will stop at nothing to attain it. And, without question, there is jealousy among sports writers toward the people they cover.
    But in an age where athletes have their asses kissed from the time they show any promise, the people you cover don’t always make it easy for you to bring that deeper perspective.
    Case in point: Barry Bonds and Ken Griffey. Bonds didn’t like the media from the start. He didn’t like how they treated his father. Understandable. He was self-absorbed and a little entitled. I know black sports writers — great ones — who have tried to extend that olive branch to Barry, only to be rejected, cussed out, and treated poorly.
    It was the same with Griff, who has, as time has gone on, become more comfortable with the media and has allowed us to get that special glimpse. But he also brought some baggage into his relationship with the media.
    I agree that black writers should definitely bring a different perspective — it should come naturally just from the experience we have living in this country — but shouldn’t black athletes do so as well?
    Knowing that many people in the black community have a different understanding of Barry Bonds, why wouldn’t Bonds reach out to a black newspaper and give them access he hasn’t given the MSM? When black athletes are looking for people to write their autobiography, how come they rarely choose a black author to tell their story?
    So while you can certainly accuse black sports writers of losing perspective, you can easily make that same accusation toward the black athletes being covered.
    You guys brought up Albert Belle. I agree that he is a for-sure Hall of Famer and should be appreciated more, given what we know about PEDs. But I covered Belle for a summer and he is one of the nastiest human beings I’ve ever encountered. I was certainly willing to give him the benefit of the doubt because I realize that not all athletes are comfortable being mobbed by the press, and not everyone has a good day. And, for sure, black male athletes are sometimes stereotyped as angry and difficult to deal with.
    I approached Belle more than a few times, just as a person and not with a pack. And not as someone who needed something from him. I wanted to understand this cat. He cussed me out. A few times. There are hardly any black baseball writers and those I know who had experiences with Albert would tell you the same thing.
    Now it’s real easy to say that black sports writers have a responsibility to cover black athletes with a deeper perspective, but that’s not easy to do when said athlete is a real pain in the ass and they’re not letting you in. And as a result, you wind up with the same superficial understanding of the person as everyone else. Is that your fault or the athlete’s?
    Let’s say Belle just didn’t like dealing with the MSM, or white reporters, whatever. Fine. So, again, what’s to stop him from reaching out to Bill Rhoden or, at the time, Ralph Wiley and giving them an interview? Absolutely nothing. His story could have been told, but he didn’t want it to be.
    Another thing: I know of several black writers who have given certain black athletes many benefit-of-the-doubts have brought that deeper understanding to the pieces they write about them, only to see that black athlete, when he has some breaking news, go directly to the white reporter and give him/her the shine.
    If you feel like black sports writers lack loyalty and perspective, let me tell you, they aren’t the only ones.

  43. KevDog says:

    Ms. Hill

    This is your return? Wow.

  44. KevDog says:


    You have a job to do and it is to be objective. You still have this notion that the petulance, irresponsibility and mediocrity of the media vis-a-vis how it demonizes athletes is justified because athletes don’t kiss your asses. That’s just bullshit, always has been. Always will be.

    When some clown comes into my ER and he’s got a Swastika and a white pride tatoo, I don’t look at it as a license to treat him differentially than someone who comes in talking about they love Kobe Bryant and Clifford Brown. Fact is that I might like one more than the other, but I have an obligation to treat them both to the best of my abilities.

    You clowns would do well to learn that lesson and not be so damn petty. And BTW, one of your black colleagues, who works for your racist Machine ESPN, DID come into my ER and I happen to think he’s as big a clown as you have working for you. But he never knew how much I despise him and what he stands for and he never will unless he gets some balls and wanders ’round these parts.. THAT’s called professionalism.

    Look it up.

  45. Jemele says:

    I’d like to think that being a doctor (or whatever medical personnel) and being a journalist were entirely different functions, but that’s just me. If I’ve got the measles, whether I’m an asshole or not is irrelevant to the treatment you provide. But when you do a story, it kinda helps if you have that source’s cooperation, otherwise you wind up with a superficial, pack journalism understanding of the situation.
    Besides, I wasn’t really speaking to speaking to day-to-day journalism, where just the nuts and bolts are required. I’m talking about deeper pieces and generally how an athlete is perceived. If Albert Belle always acts like an asshole, how is it my fault, as a journalist, that he’s perceived as such? If I’ve tried to see if something else is there, to see if something is missing but he doesn’t cooperate, what else am I to think other than he’s an asshole? He hasn’t given me any evidence to suggest otherwise.
    I’d also like to add that sports journalism should not be defined strictly through the prism of ESPN. That’s a disservice to the black sports writers out there doing unbelievably good work all across the country.

  46. Jemele says:

    One more thing: I’m not disagreeing with many of the points made here. Very valid and provable points made all around. I would be lying horrendously if I said sports reporting was 100 percent objective. Not even close.
    I’m more less speaking to black sports writers specifically and unlike some of you, I don’t consider them to be a grand army of sellouts just following massa’s instructions. I respect and personally know far too many of them to ever even let that come out of my mouth.
    I’m talking specifically about how black writers relate to black athletes and attempting to explain the intricacy of that relationship. It’s just not what it used to be, and yes, both sides can share a little blame for that.

  47. KevDog says:

    Doctor thank you.

    You still want to blame the victim for your refusal to fess up about your responsibilities as a Journalist.

    Shading the story because you personally find the athlete to be an asshole is simply passing the buck. They don’t have a professional obligation to be nice to you but you do have an obligation to be objective.

    Good God, why is this news to you folks in the media other than the same arrogance and lack of civility in you that you decry in the very athletes you demonize? You’re being dishonest and you know it. It doesn’t take a Barry Bonds to cuss you out, all it takes is a Kobe Bryant to not kiss your ass and next thing you know he’s the Devil. Make him black and you and yours want to lynch him. Don’t be acting like the white boys who make the rules and to whom you answer need someone to cuss someone out to give him the full treatment.

    Simply amazing.

    As to ESPN, it’s impact as a force for evil and racial hatred cannot be over-stated. it is, IMO, the biggest force FOR racial hatred, in this nation in the last decade.

  48. KevDog says:

    OK, this is written after your last post above.

    The relationship between black athletes and black writers does seem to be interesting and worthy of comment outside of the paradigm I’ve adderssed.

  49. Mizzo says:

    I know Pujols is hitting .357 but Ryan Howard and the Phils just clinched the East. Dude might have 50 and 150? Why should that be nullified because he might strike out 200 times? Isn’t it all about run production? Run production means wins right?

    The goal posts get moved back again…

    Jemele I get what you are saying about the athlete, but here is where I feel I’m a little more different than most.

    Because I don’t work for the mainstream, I called each league every business day for three years and got three agent contacts (still do). I called them. I left emails. I sent poetry. I did what ever I had to do.

    This has given me a certain respect from the athletes, agents and publicists and now athletes call me for interviews.

    They call me because they want to get the real story out. They don’t want some half assed superficial bullshit rehashing stories already written a thousand times.

    Why do you think athletes have their own blogs?

    I keep in touch with the agents and publicists throughout the off season, during the season and sometimes just to say hi.

    I get athlete’s numbers. I don’t bug and blow up their phone all the time, but I do call just to see how they are doing. I got that from Chuck D. He did it with me and I’m very appreciative. Thanks again Chuck!

    I understand you might not have the luxury because of deadlines but I challenge myself to crack even the worst media offenders. I’ve been cussed out by Tim Duncan after waiting patiently for a big man piece I’ll post soon. I can’t stand his ass and I’m sure you know how he is. The media protects Timmay. He’s just as surly as any athlete probably ever…but he gets a pass for some reason. Of course I will write about him objectively this season. I have to for I have no other choice.

    Rasheed Wallace will give you a “both teams played hard” every single time you ask him but if you try to get to know him, you will get some true words. Sheed is the shit but he’s been painted this crazy ass clown by the mainstream. That man is Philly through and through, if you understand this you’ll approach him differently. Anthony Gilbert knows this even more than I.

    If an outlet has an history of writing with the pack then why the hell should an athlete give them anything? Seriously. We gotta come with better angles. We have to be more creative. We have to challenge ourselves in the midst of adversity.

    Would athletes spit in our face if past writers didn’t snark their way to the top just to sell newspapers?

    There are Black writers who in essence become the Black cop in the locker room Jemele. Not all, but some are just as much assholes as their White counterparts (those that are assholes). We have to put in the work on and off the field. Sometimes I feel like a cheap trick but I do what I have to do to get the story and get it right.

    I’m new to the game and yes I’ve gone to great lengths to cultivate player and team relationships. I’ve flown to charity events broke as shit, but came away with a couple more publicist contacts each time.

    I use those contacts like a bus topography. I drop a line here and there and here and there. Eventually someone gets sick of my ass and calls me back. They respect the determination. I’ve been told no hundreds of times over the last three years, but I’m still here.

    The Pursuit of Happyness taught me so much but I was living the movie as it was released.

    Athletes have a face they give when you walk in the locker room. It’s up to us to get pass the facade and get what we need on a real down to earth level.

    I guess they see me differently because they know I’m not gonna screw ’em just because some editor runs with the pack.

    When KG walks in the presser and says “Whassup Mizzo” in a room full of reporters at the Finals, I know I’m doing my job.

    This is not about becoming athlete advocates. You brought up a great example with The Boys of Summer. If that’s what it take for us to get it back to where it needs to be, then that’s what we have to do. It’s as simple as that.

    Where were the mainstream stories coming to Tavaris Jackson’s defense????

    So what Eli Manning was a number one pick, Jackson basically came Africa to make it into the NFL. He deserved more of a shot.

    Writers all over the place were calling for his head even after a 68% completion rate in the preseason. That scrutiny filters down to the fan and then to the field and eventually to the owner’s box.

    We all know who benched Jackson and it wasn’t Childress.

    If we quit with the pack bullshit then the Black quarterback will be allowed to breathe just like his White brethren.

    The percentages of Black quarterbacks that make it in the league is so low compared to Whites it’s ridiculous. Why is it when they get on the field a BIG ASS magnifying glass follows them around whenever the sun shines hot?

    I say this again that Black writers can change this perspective Jemele. I’m doing it broke from our small corner of the Internet.

    If I can do it, anybody can.

    I’m on a mission because getting this right transcends sports and that is our sole aim in doing what we do here.

    If we have to make snark obsolete one by Deadspin one then we have done our job.

  50. Jemele says:

    Mizzo, I applaud you for going that extra mile, but as you mentioned, with the demands of deadline in the MSM, you might only have two or three shots to get a guy to open up. I do the same as you — keep in contact with publicists and others — and know of several black writers who do the same thing. Sometimes, it pays off, sometimes it doesn’t.

    But as much as you’ve done to extend yourself to black athletes, I’d be willing to bet that when one of them is thinking of writing a book, they don’t even come to you or think about you. Yes, black writers could do more to evolve a different perspective, but so could black athletes. I can’t tell your story if you don’t talk to me, or if you lump me in with everyone else. That’s not me expecting my ass to be kissed. That’s me expecting you to be as professional as I am. That’s me expecting you to give me a chance, just like you expect me to give you one. You want me to see outside of your stereotype, but you’ve got to be willing to see outside of mine, too. It’s a two-way street.

    A guy being an asshole doesn’t bother me, but it does prevent me from seeing the entire scope. And despite his behavior, I’d never say Albert Belle didn’t deserve to be in the HOF. So, yes, I can be objective in the face of “adversity,” LOL.

    I just remembering hearing stories from older black sports writers about how there was this kinship and mutual respect between black sports writers and black athletes. Of course, not to the point where fairness was compromised, but there wasn’t this…tension. Wish it were that way now.

    And, to be honest, some of this is based upon what sport we’re talking about. One of the reasons the NBA is my favorite to cover is because it’s easier to break through those walls. Of course, there are some guys you’re just not going to get close to (LeBron James comes to mind), but there are so many guys who do let you in.

    And as I said, think whatever you want to of ESPN, but just because we do or don’t do something, don’t assume it’s not being written and that perspective isn’t getting out there. The NBA probably has the largest collection of black beat writers of all the major sports and those guys do fantastic work (i.e., Chris Broussard). In fact, I just read an incredible profile of Stephen Jackson that was written by Marcus Thompson, a promising, young writer in the Bay Area. I’ve seen a number of really strong, encompassing profiles done on Rasheed Wallace (a tough nut to crack, but I’ve found him to be pretty easy to talk to.) I know of several black columnists who have come to the defense of Carmelo Anthony, including David Steele in Baltimore who opined why Carmelo Anthony’s DUI was such a big deal, but not Michael Phelps’. Mike Freeman, a black columnist for CBS Sportsline, was the first to write that the treatment of Chris Leak was racist. He also wrote that the continual praise and overhyping of Tyler Hansbrough had racist implications. And let’s not forget Bill Rhoden, who offers this perspective routinely for one of the most prestigious publications in the world.

    So just because you don’t see it one ESPN, doesn’t mean it’s there. Although I notice when that perspective is on ESPN, it tends to go unnoticed around these parts 🙂

    Anyway, the biggest mistake we make in the media is realizing everything isn’t either-or, black or white (no pun intended), good or bad. We sacrifice the complexity for immediacy, and it hurts us.

    Oh, one more thing…several of our analysts have come to Tavaris Jackson’s defense — Tom Jackson, Keyshawn Johnson and Shaun King. All three of them blamed it on Brad Childress.