Panama and Champ Talk Racism, Sports, The South, and History

This was not the South in the 60s.Champ:  You know, the Iron Bowl—and the SEC (Southeastern Conference) by extension—capturing the country’s attention is put in a different perspective when talking to my dad and uncles, their friends, etc. because none of them f*ck with SEC schools. At least not rooting wise. They all still remember that those schools were the last to have black players.

PJ: Real talk…even my father hates Alabama b/c of that reason; which is why he pulls for Auburn.

Champ: Yeah.

PJ: But that’s kind of a bad argument. Shoot, we all root for former racist sports teamsand you’re mad because one of those professoinal teams was the last to integrate?

Champ:  For him, it’s weird to see black people rooting for teams like Alabama and the Red Sox.

PJ: If you’re going to hate something because of integration you kind of have to hate it all. Somebody has to be last.

Champ: Well,I think certain terms were specifically known for being racist, or lead by racists, rather.

PJ: That much is clear,but that also changed.

Champ: The Red Sox, Alabama football, Kentucky basketball, etc.

PJ: And those racists are no longer there. Sh*t, Indiana basketball may not be “known” for it as much, but they all had the same policy. All of them.

Champ: I can understand not letting it go, though.
PJ: Some were just more upfront about it.

Champ: Especially if you lived through it.

PJ: Southerners are just more honest about their racism. Yeah, I can understand that. I’m just saying that if you lived through that, then you lived thru a lot of racist sports. So if you root for anybody, you’re still rooting for a team that at some point practiced de facto racism. I suppose in some ways, i can understand why you’d root for the first teams to integrate. I’ll say this; if you root for all the first teams to integrate and hate all the last ones to integrate, it makes sense.

Champ: Yeah, but there’s a difference between someone who might have been racist and someone who happily defined themselves by it.

PJ: Because one person said it and another lived it? I don’t really think there’s much of a difference if you only changed because you couldn’t afford not to; which, lets be real, was the case with most sports franchises, college or pro. How does that make it any better? Saying “they weren’t defined by it…” doesn’t mean they were not racist. it just means they didnt go out of their way to state it. They still operated quite happily under those circumstances.  I’m not even sure why I’m arguing this; I get it. I can’t blame anybody for hating the Kentucky’s, Alabama’s, or especially Boston sports. But I do stand by the fact that most schools were happily racist for quite some time.

Champ: That’s true.

PJ: Pro teams as well.

Champ: But some were specifically known for being that way. It doesn’t make them the “most” racist. But it does make them the ones black people are least likely to f*ck with.

PJ: Old black people. But yeah, I feel that. Like I said, thats why my father hates Alabama. It helps that he grew up very close to Auburn, but the hate is palpable. Interestingly enough, I think that’s why I tend to have to toss a lot of that hatred to the side…for certain institutions. Remember, many stores didnt want us shopping there, period. Now we happily patronize those stores. Race creates complicated relationships.

Champ: It does.

PJ: You know whats most telling…Kentucky football was the first one to integrate in the SEC and Alabama wasn’t even last. LSU integrated after Alabama did. I’m looking at this chart and Alabama and Auburn integrated a year apart.

Champ: Alabama matters more, though, because Alabama was Alabama; Bear Bryant and sh*t. (Paul “Bear” Bryant actually claimed he couldn’t recruit Black players because he wasn’t allowed to. When he finally was able to, he opened the flood gates.)

PJ: And sh*t…the Redskins were the last pro team to integrate, but every n-wrod in America rooted for them because of Doug Williams.

Champ: From Grambling State University (HBCU in northern Louisiana)

PJ: Right. My point is…the Redskins were a notoriously racist team that refused to sign black players. Defiantly so. This probably explains why we have so many Cowboys fans in DC.

-PJ and Champ

The Last Thing You’ll Ever Need To Read About Gabby Douglas And Gabby Douglas’ Hair

I don’t give a damn about The Olympics.

Now, before you get all huffy and ask why I’d even bother playing “internet troll” and writing about something I don’t care about, let me expound. I care greatly about The Olympics — the month-long series of competitions featuring the best athletes in the world.

What I don’t give a damn about is The Olympics — the ceremonies, the sentiment, the fawned over concept of fabricated sportsmanship, the perpetual human interest stories about orphaned lepers who hid in porcupine anuses to escape from Taliban prison camps so they could compete for a spot on Iraq’s equestrian team, and even the half-assed patriotism this cash cow is supposed to inspire.

Basically, I just want to see motherf*ckers compete. Forget all the Kumbaya shit. I want to see records and wills broken. I don’t even give a damn if American athletes win medals. I just want to see the best athletes in the world scorch the motherf*cking earth. If they happen to be American, great! Go U.S.A.!

Again, I realize that my opinion is an unpopular one. I also realize that if most people interested in the Olympics felt the way I do, there probably would be no Olympics. The popularity of events like the Olympics and the Super Bowl thrive on casual fans — people interested in competition, but not dependent on it in the same way. For an event like this to continue it has to be financially lucrative, And, for it to be financially lucrative, it has to connect with people other than competition junkies. Basically, the human interest stories I find to be boring and repetitive exist because the people interested in them pay the bulk of the bill that finances everything.

I’m bringing this up because it provides a bit of context for my feelings about Gabby Douglas, an athlete who made headlines for medaling, made more headlines because of some criticism about her look, and stayed in the headlines because of the discussions the criticism about her look sparked.

Now, although I am a self-proclaimed Olympic atheist, I did feel extra elated when Gabby medaled. I’ve even starting calling her “Hush Puppy,” and there’s a rumor floating around that I might have even shed a tear when she won. I also do recognize the transformative potential of said medaling. The term “role model” was practically invented for people like her and the effect their mere presence can have on others. It wouldn’t even be hyperbole to suggest that just by winning while being a little Black girl not too much unlike millions of other little Black girls, Gabby Douglas literally saved lives.

But, despite Gabby’s aforementioned success and appeal, I don’t think the discussion about her hair is inherently wrong. It’s unfortunate, disturbing, ugly, insulting, and sad. But, it’s not wrong. In fact, it’s almost necessary

For an athlete to be popular enough to command an eight figure endorsement deal — a status Gabby Douglas is soon to reach (if she hasn’t reached it already) — a multitude of factors have to be in place, and the most important of these factors is for people who don’t give a damn about her sport to know who she is. Basically, for her to go from Gabrielle Christina Victoria Douglas to GABBY DOUGLAS!!! she needs for tens of millions of people to be interested in her. And, these millions will inevitably include the type of people who think it’s cool to talk about a 16 year old athlete’s hair. You cannot filter them out. If the only people who watched were the ones just interested in how she fared on the balance beams, she wouldn’t be a trending topic, an instant millionaire, and the cover of the new Corn Flakes box. You just cannot have one without the other.

Also, high-level athletes receiving this type of attention is nothing new. Last spring, there were no bigger punchlines than Lebron’s receding hairline and the occasionally effeminate mannerisms of his teammate, the most “giffable” man on Earth. Anthony Davis, an 19 year old, is just as well known for his unibrow as he is for being the number one pick in the NBA draft. And, I bet if we searched Twitter long enough, we could find hundreds of thousands of tweets discussing everything from the “Yeah, I haven’t showered since March” esque-ness of the Argentinian men’s basketball team to the packages (or lack thereof) of numerous track athletes.

Yes, Gabby is a teenager and these are (mostly) grown men. And yes, Gabby is a young woman, and appearance-based criticisms tend to be more damaging to women, young women especially, than they are to men. But, are we sure we want to share that message? Do we want to promote this Olympic ideal that female athletes can be just as determined and competitive and athletic and intense and spectacular and brilliant as male athletes (which I believe, btw), but then undermine that statement by also saying that we can’t pick apart and criticize them the same way we criticize the men?

You know, with all this being said, I do actually wish that none of this happened. I hoped that the Olympic bubble would protect Gabby and her family from the hair-related comments. Unfortunately, they didn’t, and her mother even thinks they may have affected her recent performance.

But, although I’m sure this may not be a popular opinion in the Douglas household right now, the next time they sit down to breakfast in their new million-dollar house and eat a bowl of Gabby Douglas-sponsored Corn Flakes, they should probably say a prayer thanking the hair haters, for none of that would have been possible without them.

—Damon Young (aka “The Champ”)

Shaq Got a #doctorit And All I Got Was This T-Shirt

The Big Ph.D.

So why for come ain’t nobody not tell me that Shaquille O’Neal got a Ph.D. in some Ph.D. sh*t from Barry University?

By the way, that last sentence was brought to you by publicly funded education.

So the homey Cheekie sends me an email talking about Shaq getting his Ph.D. last weekend and I immediately hit her with the virtual Chris from Family Guy, “Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa?”

Let me tell you something. That made me smile. Big and wide. Kind of how I like my white women. With there being so much drama in the LBC, you rarely hear stories about athletes making vast educational achievements. Turns out, the Big Aristotle also has an MBA. Sure its from the University of Phoenix-Online, but hell, do YOU have an MBA…from anywhere? (If you do just shut up and sit there silently as to not destroy my point. Thanks. — Management)

I feel like its very to easy to read article after article about low graduation rates from college for athletes. Especially basketball playing (read ninja-like) athletes. But I’m fairly certain that if it wasn’t for Twitter, I wouldn’t know about Shaq getting a Ph.D. (from Barry University in Miami) in leadership and education with a concentration on human resource development. What does that mean? I don’t know. But I’ll bet the other folks with Ph.D.s in that know.

I feel like stories such as this one should be well reported everywhere. I remember some years ago when Vince Carter decided to possibly miss a playoff game to go to his graduation from UNC. People were in an uproar. How could he not be devoted to his teammates at such a pivotal time. Vince Carter was like, “dude, this is my life. You go to college to walk across the stage and graduate, and that’s what I’m going to do.” I couldn’t be mad at him or blame him. The NBA, is his job. Getting an education is a life goal that so many of us have and that achievement gets acknowledge by walking across the stage so that friends and family can witness what was such a lofty goal for so many of our ancestors.

I also remember some years ago when Myron Rolle, from Florida State, ended up becoming a Rhodes Scholar and decided to go to Oxford for a year and pasing up the NFL draft to get a Master’s degree first. His coaches, some players, and analysts thought he had lost his damn mind, but he was very focused on his education and getting to his ultimate goal of becoming a doctor. He plays in the NFL now. And is well on his way. Hell his Wikipedia page might be the most interesting athlete page ever.

I did a google search trying to find out how many professional athletes have graduate degrees (or hell degrees period) and couldn’t find anything. But if I wanted to know which school didn’t graduate the most athletes I’m sure that’s available (my guess is Kentucky). And this isn’t a race thing. Athletes, especially, professional athletes get credited as being dumb jocks a lot but the truth is that a lot of them (not all, obviously not all) do value getting an education. And finish those degrees. It’s just some rich white man was willing to pay them millions of dollars to hold a ball. I remember telling my father that if I had a chance to play professionally, I’d finish college first and my father looked at me like I was crazy. He said if somebody’s willing to pay you for that, school isn’t going anywhere. So the incentive to roll out is substantial.

But numbers of these guys go back and finish their degrees. Which is why hearing that Shaq has a Ph.D. is such a great story to me. I don’t even know him and I’m proud of him. He knows the value of an education and kept at it. You go Shaq.

I think I wrote all that to just say, “you go Shaq!”

Yay.

So, happy Friday! Um…isn’t that great?

By the way, I do realize the inherent “low standardism” that I displayed by being excited that an athlete actually got a degree. Maybe that says a lot about me. Maybe that says a lot about how I view athletes. N.E.R.D. has a song called “Maybe”.

*takes ball and goes home*

The floor is yours.

-VSB P aka THE ARSONIST aka MR. TAKES BALL AND GOES HOME aka GIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIRL HE A 3

Also, I feel like I should introduce for those who haven’t been, an interesting webseries that I’m sure all of you cubicle-n*ggas can understand and relate too: The Unwritten Rules. Peep the trailer then go check out the two episodes. It’s worth the watch.

A Good Problem?

Last week, while on Twitter and thinking of unique ways to plug our book (Just did it again!), I happened to see “Skylar Diggins” — a sophomore point guard at Notre Dame — among the trending topics. Now, Diggins had just led Notre Dame to a victory over the UConn women, an earth-shattering upset along the lines of “Jermaine Dupri just bagged Janet Jackson!!!“, but her athletic prowess was only part of the reason for the attention she was receiving.¹

You see, Diggins is quite possibly the best looking high-level female athlete…ever (Yes. Ever. Anyone else you’d name — Swin Cash, Serena Williams, Marion Jones, Candice Parker, Laila Ali, etc — would fall short. She’s the Kenya Moore/Esther Baxter hybrid to everyone else’s everyone else.), and this extra attention was due to the myriad ways people (and by “people” I mean “black men”) acknowledged this fact through words, tweets, blogs, and even song (Seriously!)

But, along with the hundreds of thousands of different n*ggas who’d offered to impregnate and/or marry her via the internet, something else happened: People actually watched her play.

Men (and women) who were usually more excited by kidney stones and stink bugs with syphilis than the idea of women’s college basketball tuned in to watch Notre Dame play in the championship against Texas A&M. And, those who watched the entire game saw a contest that was much, much, much more entertaining than the sh*tfest the Butler and UConn men produced the night before², and probably left appreciating women’s basketball a bit more than they did before.

Now, not everybody was pleased with the type of attention Diggins received, and a couple paragraphs from an email exchange between Zerlina Maxwell of The Loop 21 and I helps explain exactly why.

“I still just don’t feel comfortable with women (it’s usually women even though you were correct to point out that at times it occurs with men) getting all that attention primarily because of their looks.  That’s just troubling and it’s not only in sports…

…But the fact that jokers were on twitter going on and on and on about how pretty Skylar is and what not with the rare mention of the fact that she is good at the game is just frustrating.”

(In an earlier email, Maxwell also brought up the point that any aesthetic-based interest would be fleeting. Basically, anyone watching just to see if Diggins was hot probably wouldn’t watch again. While this is true, I replied that all attention, even fleeting and/or superficial attention, is better than none. )

Now, (obviously) I think this — people watching just because they think a particular player is attractive — is a good “problem” to have. Even if you take sports out of the equation, I don’t think it’s a bad thing if a person’s looks gets them an opportunity or opens a door that may have been locked otherwise. In this sense, the end justifies the means. But, (although unlikely) I realize that I could be wrong, and I’m curious what you think.

People of VSB.com, Is all attention good if it leads to a desired result? Does it really matter if the only reason you got into your dream law firm is because one of the partners wanted to hit it during your interview? I mean, as long as you get in (and he, um, doesn’t) right?

The carpet is yours.

¹I actually first noticed Diggins a couple years ago while flicking through channels on a lazy Sunday. I came across an ESPN documentary centered on a high school basketball tournament featuring many of the top boys and girls teams in the country. Although several different teams were profiled, two in particular were showcased: An Atlanta-area boys team starring eventual NBA lottery pick Derrick Favors, and a girls team from Indiana starring an athlete whose presence on-screen immediately produced two thoughts in my head:
A) She might be the best looking female athlete I’ve ever seen
B) Um, you do realize she’s in high school, right? Settle down, Champ Kelly.
After remembering that my open living room window gave God a clear shot to watch me a bit too interested in the aesthetic attributes of an 18 year old girl, I tried to convince myself that she was in fact a 27 year old undercover cop masquerading as a high school basketball player to bust an intercontinental crystal meth ring. It didn’t work.
²I was thisclose to saying that the Butler/UConn championship game was the single most disturbing, disgusting, and depressing thing I’ve ever watched, but I just remembered that an unexplained bout of curiosity and stupidity caused me to watch “The Human Centipede” Saturday night. Now, the Butler/UConn championship game is only the second most disturbing, disgusting, and depressing thing I’ve ever watched.

—The Champ

Your Degrees Wont Keep You Warm at Night: The Very Smart Brothas Guide to Dating, Mating, and Fighting Crime is now available on Kindle for $9.99

nttawwt: the vsb spectrum of gay things that straight men regularly do

Rockets Lakers Basketball

“yeah, i walked in the shower. i’m not a homosexual or nothing like that, but kobe had no clothes on.”

—ron artest

as camfra¹ continues to prove, many straight men frequently and happily partake in behavior more suspect than conrad murray. while we don’t actually acknowledge these acts as being gay, rest assured, there’s some sh*t we do that’s gayer than christmas morning.

thing is, all straight acts of gayness aren’t created equal. there’s a distinct difference between bruno (very gay) and a bare-chested barroom brawl (slightly less gay, but still very gay).

today, as a service from verysmartbrothas.com, the champ has created a straight men’s gayness gauge, a useful ledger to let you know exactly what percentage of gayness each act entails. enjoy and sh*t. Continue reading