BL: The NFL & NBA & Me… & You… & America

October17/ 2017

The NFL & NBA and Me… and You… and America

My coulda-been title for this column was:

Why Sunday @ The Masters Is Not Must-See TV in Harlem.

I’m going to say some things over the next 1,000+ words that, taken OUT of context, could have this column “go viral” but not necessarily in a good way. Taken IN context might speak for you and more than a few “you’s”… or not.

I found this on-line definition of “culture”…

a central concept in anthropology, encompassing the range of phenomena that are transmitted through social learning in human societies.


There is nothing in that definition that is qualitative in terms of “good” or “bad” or “acceptable” versus “unacceptable”. A comparison of “cultures” such as Amish versus New Guinea Tribesmen gets into wide variations of cultural differences but good, better, best is in the perspective eye of each beholder.

With that as our guiding parameter we revisit an observation first made on this website 4-5 years ago…

Gladiators VS Spectators

The Evolution of Football & Basketball in America.

I do not have The Reason that young African American men are increasingly dominating the rosters of college and professional football and basketball teams in America.

Pop socio-anthropologist author Malcom Gladwell has advanced a few “Whys” and I’m sure there are some “doozies” that involve post-Neanderthals chasing lions across the equatorial plains of The Serengeti with sticks and rocks.

Put all the legitimate and crack-pot theories in a blender and hit puree.  What emerges is that the most astute judges of athletic talent for the top college and pro leagues opt for individuals of the Afro-American persuasion.

Current NFL rosters are around 75% AfAm. Current NBA rosters are over 85% AfAm. Both leagues %s are trending upward each year.

College FB/BB rosters are slightly less AfAm dominant, but the better talent advances to the pro leagues which favors the AfAm athletes.

Throughout recorded history… when cultures mix, the culture of the majority will invariably dominate. Ask the Apaches… and the Incas… and Heteros in San Francisco. Why should NFL / NBA locker rooms be any different? They aren’t.

Every national census statistic has African-Americans at less than 15% of the total population… but, as noted, over 75% of NFL / NBA rosters.

Why is it surprising that AfAm “culture” has become dominant in both The NFL and NBA?

I don’t know when The Tipping Point was reached… but it has Tipped.

“Culture” is manifested in all manner of obvious / not-so obvious aspects. Hair styles… dress… colloquialisms… music… art… political points-of-view… attitudes towards other cultures… social/family structure… end zone celebrations… ad infinitum.

I am a product of not only White Folks culture but also Baby Boomer and Protestant and Southern sub-cultures. I am comfortable within that cultural stew pot.

My curiosity may lead me to “dip a toe” in other cultures such as with food or music, but I am most comfortable with “me and mine”.  Everyone is entitled to their personal preference / comfort zone.  It is not a “fear of” but rather “preference for”.

America being a cultural melting pot, it is necessary, by law, for each of us to develop a civil tolerance of other American sub-cultures as we go about our daily lives outside the privacy of our own homes. Ours is, by Law, a multi-integrated National culture.

We do not have to embrace other cultures but we must / should show a “civil tolerance” of them… and they with us.

That polite tolerance of other cultures does not mandate how we spend our discretionary time and $$$. We choose which restaurants we frequent. What music we listen to. How we wear our hair. What books we read… What forms of entertainment we seek.

AfAm sales of Taylor Swift or Carrie Underwood music is understandably minimal.  No argument.

I have… in recent years… decided that The NFL / NBA have a definite “dominant cultural aura” that I don’t share.   Ergo, I don’t direct my time / money to those enterprises.

I am NOT “mad at” The NFL  or The NBA.

I have NO RIGHT to dictate the “dominant cultural image” of those sports in any way.

Nor… do I have any obligation to support them with my time or money.

Nor… do I believe in the concept of undying loyalty to “where I went to college”.  A hot topic for another day.

I appreciate that there may be, apparently IS, an on-going conflict between labor and management ownership of those two leagues as to the optimum “cultural image” for the ongoing financial prosperity of those businesses. That is not a debate I have a voice or vote in.

NOTE: NFL stadiums and NBA arenas spectators tend to reflect the census statistics… actually even a lower AfAm %. I don’t know about TV viewer ethnic %s.

If asked to be in a focus group on that issue, I would be glad to offer my opinion… otherwise I am just fine with the current status quo.

A true story I’ve told before. Ten years ago, standing with NFL Legend Emmett Smith at the Emmett SmithStart/Finish Line at Bristol Motor Speedway. Emmett perused the 140,000 NASCAR spectators packing the stands and observed … “Not too many brutahs up there…” To which I politely replied … “Nope.”

Why Emmett himself was there made no sense either which I think he must have been thinking too…

Every April as long as I can remember I have watched Sunday At The Masters. Probably the most consistent “Must See” sports event on my annual calendar. Even when my overall interest in “golf” is at an all-time low.

Is Sunday At The Masters on Emmett Smith’s Must-See calendar?  How many TVs in Harlem or South Central LA or Southeast Raleigh or East Durham are tuned to Sunday At The Masters? I bet very few if any. Especially with Tiger no longer a factor.

There is no “Law” governing individual conduct when the National Anthem is played. There has been an assumed civil conduct that was generally accepted until recently; but never a “You Must” as far as each individual in a stadium / arena.  We have all witnessed various casual attitudes prior to Kaepernicking.

The Kneeling Kaepernickers are not breaking any “law” with their conduct regardless of “why” they are doing what they do. As to their agreement with their employers, that seems to be The Question.

There has never been a “Law” in America about having facial hair. When I went to work for Hyatt Hotels I was told I could not sport “facial hair”.

No one with Hyatt asked “Why” I wanted to wear a beard. They simply said I could not do so AND be employed by them. So I was clean-shaven during those two+ years.

Of course… that was 30 years ago.

Times have changed in America. … Times ARE always changing in America.


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