The Pen Is Mightier Than The Sword But In The End The Written Word Has To Have That Measure of Truth To It…………
A lot is now being written and speculated on concerning Tiger Woods’ return to the PGA Tour and his competing in The Masters at Augusta National Golf Club , Augusta, Georgia. Let’s put it this way with the ‘three ringed circus’ that’s about to be unfurled , does anyone really expect Woods to compete and win the tournament outright ? Oddsmakers in Vegas and in the UK with William Hill may well have him as the prohibitive favorite but it may well come down to the rest of the field and perhaps either an unknown or a top ten player winning one of golf’s most prestigious events and perhaps the most vaulted ‘major out side of The (British) Open .
Now with everything that we’ve been made aware of concerning Woods and ‘his sexual’ proclivities . It makes me wonder how much the spectators who’ll be there in attendance for the tournament, will be there to watch the golf or merely to view Woods for themselves up close and personal ? Granted , he members and board of Augusta National will make sure that Woods is protected not just merely from the press but also the rowdy fans who’ll be there. And as much as hierarchy there at Augusta like to view themselves as the paragons of virtue and the custodians of the game. Consider this , forty ive years ago would this much fuss have been made about a member of the PGA Tour caught up in such an intrigue ? Never mind the fact that the person at the center of this all just happens to be a minority . We seem to forget that it wasn’t until 1975 that a minority of African American descent had been allowed as an invitee to compete in the event . And that honor went to Lee Elder . And the greats of the game at the time such as Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer had been ominously silent on the issue of race when it came to that very subject on the PGA Tour . I wonder why ? I mean young African American males had fought and shed their blood fighting a war in Vietnam were they not – for this country ? But yet at the back end of the civil rights’ era an African American male couldn’t yet compete on one of the grandest stages in golf . Seems somewhat strange and undignified when you really think about it all .
One would like to think that the PGA Tour and the members of Augusta have come a long way since those days. To this day though Augusta is still a members only private club , in terms of its diversity and racial makeup it still falls behind a number of other private clubs across the nation. Don’t be fooled by the fact that PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem states that they (PGA Tour) in conjunction with the board members of Augusta are changing that perception. Nothing could be further from the truth ! This is still very much an old boys’ network being ran by aging Caucasians with an axe to grind.
Well the NBA is now down to the final leg of the season with the last dozen or so games to be played by a number of teams as it pertains to their respective schedules. In the Eastern Conference and its standing, seems almost pretty much set as to who the final eight teams will be that will make the playoffs. Though it has to be said that the Chicago Bulls (35-39) are doing their damndest to chase down and pass the Toronto Raptors (36-37) for that eighth and final spot. They’re merely 1 1/2 games behind the Raptors for the last remaining place with just 8 games to be played. I’d like to think that the Bulls’ front office isn’t regretting the loss of John Salmons by trading him to the Milwaukee Bucks , then seeing the resurgence of the team , since his arrival and the ever consistent play of both Andrew Bogut and Brandon Jennings ! But alas, that ship has now sailed and the Bulls will have to make do with what they now have at present with Vinny Del Negro leading the charge as the team’s coach.
Bulls’ Executive VP & Head of Basketball Operations John Paxson and General Manager Gar Forman are looking to bring back the halcyon days of the ‘Jordan years’ at the United Center. But it appears that there’s still a great deal of work to be done. And Bulls’ owner Jerry Reinsdorf has to be enthused by what he’s seen from the team but must still hope that the club makes the playoffs. Those glory days of Jordan and Scottie Pippen made the Bulls the ‘powerhouse’ of the NBA and drove the frenzy of fan worship of the team around the league and across the globe .
No pun intended here concerning fans of Michael Vick but the Western Conference is now turning into ‘one hell of a dogfight’ amongst the teams seeded two through eight . The Los Angeles Lakers (54-20) pretty much has the number one seed sewn up within the conference and they’ve already cemented winning the Pacific Division within the conference.
The teams two through six, as they now stand are separated by no more than 3 1/2 games and the overall differential between teams, six through eight , is a mere game. That eighth and final spot now rests with the San Antonio Spurs (44-29). The team is now lumbering into the postseason having lost Tony Parker for the remainder of the regular season and the entire playoffs. The point guard suffered a broken right hand and they now have an ailing Manu Ginobli (back spasms) to deal with on the roster . With that in mind unless the younger players on the roster step up their game then then there’s the likelihood that the team will be bumped out in the first round of the playoffs. Should they finish in that eighth spot then they’d have the dubious privilege of having to face the Lakers in the first round of the playoffs. A daunting task for the Gregg Popovich coached team but as the say anything is possible when it comes to the NBA . We’ve seen a number of teams struggle of late within the conference and it appears that the bloodletting hasn’t yet finished. No team might be hotter at present within the conference than the Phoenix Suns , led their point guard Steve Nash and their duo of centers in Robin Lopez and Amar’e Stoudemire . The two players are proving to be a force to be reckoned with and with wily veteran Grant Hill still playing with his customary aplomb. There’s the belief that coach Alvin Gentry has this Suns’ team going in the right direction and believing in themselves. Having won eight of the last nine games , they’re certainly showing that they ought to be considered as legitimate contenders within the conference. But it’s not about the perception of thought when it comes to the game but the results achieved when the games are played. That’s how the teams are meant to be judged .
I’ve begun to get sick and tired of hearing African American sports’ fans bitch and whine about the lack of respect or the none visibility of athletes of the high profiled minority athletes either in the NFL or Major League Baseball (MLB). By my way of thinking the athletes are there but more often than not the ones you’d as such expect to be at the forefront making their voices heard are either making complete asses of themselves or falling afoul of the law for one reason or another.
Now let me premise this by saying having been born in the United Kingdom , raised in the Caribbean (Jamaica) in the early formative years of my childhood before returning to the UK at the age of eight. I’d like to think that with that sort of upbringing ,then living a large part of my adult life in the UK and on the continent of Europe (France & Germany) , that there’s something to be said for being educated , having traveled and being well read. The constant whining about why black players aren’t recognized and acknowledged is completely asinine. If players such as Torii Hunter and his asinine notion that Latin players of African heritage aren’t black enough …or as he puts it “not one of us”. Is it any wonder that the fans in large part will either think of the player as being an ass or he clearly has little of worth listening to ? Furthermore , an athlete of Hunter’s visibility did little to let his voice be heard when the whole steroid debacle was in full flow. As a matter of fact, there were few ballplayers if any, who came out and decried what their fellow players were doing. Not even Derek Jeter , himself, who is bi-racial. The ominous silence from these noted players of ethnicity was docile and insulting to the fans as a whole ! And it shouldn’t surprise us at all by the lack of action that was forthcoming from the hierarchy of the game and its commissioner Bud Selig from the outset. Never mind the fact the MLBPA (union) were as believable in their alleged act of being contrition in wanting to clean up the game they sullied , stained and have done irreparable damage to .
We’ve seen what entitlement does to athletes when they get themselves caught in something of inappropriate situation as it either involves their personal or professional lives. Vick made that all too plain , with his lying to the NFL and the Atlanta Falcons’ owner Roster Arthur Blank and the entire organization . But yet you had many trying to show their support for Vick in some of the most inexcusable ways. ‘Oh he’s done nothing wrong in being involved in dog fighting or illegal gambling ‘. Some seem to forget the some of Vick’s most heinous acts were in torturing these canines merely for the fact that they didn’t perform up to par. I’d like to think that Vick could either withstand being drowned or quite possibly take to having an electrical cattle prod placed on his genitalia ! Perhaps then , he could then describe the unbearable pain suffered and that he inflicted upon those poor helpless animals ? These were some of the acts described in the affidavits and sworn testimony given by his co-conspirators at his trial. He not only broke the laws within the state of Georgia but several federal laws as it relates to gambling never mind the ‘heinous act of dog fighting’ of which he was a ring leader in .
And Vick with his visibility prior to him being caught, is someone that many had looked up to from all walks of life and ethnic backgrounds. Personally, I’d judge today’s athletes by the way they conduct themselves on the field of play and how they conduct themselves away from their competitive environment. With their ever so carefully manicured images either by the press, agents, or even their respective leagues. One way or another, whenever they seem to fall afoul, either of the law or from their very own indiscretion, they always seem to apportion blame elsewhere, rather than wanting to be held accountable for their own actions. As Charles Barkley so aptly said “………..I’m no role model ” !
If African Americans sports’ fans are looking for the visibility of high profiled African American athletes to provide some legitimacy either to their lives or the well being of that respective sport. Then in reality they ought to be looking elsewhere. Yes, as fans we may well fawn over the athletes’ exploits but at the end of the day when they ,the athletes disappoint with their behavior . We’ve only ourselves to blame in thinking that they’re paragons of virtue. All that separates us in the end , is that person’s athletic prowess and the vast wealth that they’ve amassed along the way. We’ll be held accountable for our misdeeds. Whereas, an athlete is caught in the cross-hairs of public and media scrutiny tends to hide behind a wall of attorneys , agents and members of their entourage. Joe Public simply has nothing of that nature should he or she get caught up in such a dilemma. Not even our wits at times can stave off the glare of shame or embarrassment.
Lastly, as a final note this isn’t just something that is happening within this specific demographic . It is actually happening within the various ethnic backgrounds that makes up this nation. Some will acknowledge the fact while others tend not to be bothered at all by it. Which area befits you , as far as that’s concerned ?
Alan Parkins aka tophatal ………………….