Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Hold Up, Are They Serious?

Update. My homie MODI over at Sports On My Mind is one of the most thorough bloggers on the planet when it comes to breaking down bias in sports. Check out his latest take on the Phelps issue here. That dude drops some knowledge, and he also takes the time to give me some credit for a past piece I wrote.)

This is going to be short, but it has to be said.

What the eff is up with the response to Michael Phelps' newly revealed love-affair with a bong?

Yes that is 14-time gold medalist Michael Phelps using a bong. No that is not tobacco. Yes, Michael Phelps is getting a masssive white pass.

Phelps is an elite athlete. He got caught doing illegal drugs, while reportedely engaging in binge drinking. And many mainstream media talking heads, and just plain old fans, are falling all over themselves to make excuses for his actions.

They are lamenting the fact that he may lose all of his endorsement deals(although several companies have already said they are sticking by their party boy). Folks are pointing out that it's only marijuana, that Phelps is still a young man, that he didn't hurt anybody and, the kicker, that he's basically a good kid.

If good is a euphemism for "white and good looking" then I guess they are right.

I follow the sports news, I know how black athletes get handled when they eff up with drugs, or anything. I remember what happened to Joakim Noah and Josh Howard. I haven't forgotten the Lamar Odom and Zack Randolph jokes. Shoot, I even remember how the media treated Allen Iverson's bust for weed. They made it seem like he was a hardcore felon trying kill babies.

The list goes on and on. When black athletes eff up there is no rush to give them the benefit of the doubt. But, let a white athlete screw up and folks try to find any reasons to excuse their behavior. In fact, if a famous black athlete from a single parent household in a decaying urban area who loved to listen to gangsta rap and bang skanky girls got busted with pot, you'd better believe we'd get a rash of articles about black pathology. (By the way, Phelps has all of the characteristics I described in the previous sentence. Don't believe me? Check out his girlfriend below)

She has a tramp stamp. Case closed.

I'm so tired of this double standard. I appreciate the fact that great websites like Sports On My Mind chronicle this type of crap, but it still gets old. Do y'all understand how disheartening it is to see unfair treatment over and over again, and then have folks tell you it's all in your mind? That is what happens when you point out racial biases in the media, particularly in the sports media. Folks put their hand of their ears and scream "La, la, la..."

Are they serious?



RiPPa said...

He's from Baltimore. Have you seen "The Wire"? It was bound to happen sooner or later. Plus its widely known that one of his good friends who is also from B'more is Carmello Anthony. And yeah we all know about him, right?

I'm with you. The double standard is ridiculous. I saw if they let him slide they should decriminalize weed altogether.

Anonymous said...

I agree that if he was a Black man this story would have a whole other feel to it.

Yeah, his lady is a tad skanky looking and that us quite the pipe that boy is puffing on.

Anonymous said...

I think both problems are ridiculous.

1. The double standard, which is still a racial constant in so many parts of life and shouldn't exist.

2. The insistence on demonizing ANYONE for smoking pot, since the bigger problems are alcohol abuse and abuse of prescription drugs. For all the bad press about pot, how many times have we heard of someone hurting someone else under the influence of MJ vs. under the influence of booze?

(And no, I don't smoke pot myself. I don't enjoy smoking anything. But I've got plenty of uncles who toked, and more than a few friends who have.)

All-Mi-T [Thought Crime] Rawdawgbuffalo said...

lega;ize it lol

cinque said...

This guy has a DUI and is caught smoking weed!!???!???? And he still has his money and endorsments!???? Josh Hamilton story all over again...white athlete, drugs, rehab, REDEMPTION.

Big Man said...

Good catch on Josh Hamilton.

How about Brad Miller?

Or, even worse, Matt Jones.

Anonymous said...

You're cherry-picking evidence to support an existing theory.

Current headlines on a Google news search:

Phelps shouldn't get a pass.

Furor over Phelps keeps building.

Michael Phelps betrays himself and his admirers.

Will Phelps squander his public esteem?

etc, etc, etc. There are hundreds of headlines like that.

People ARE making a big deal about this. Especially white people. This made national news, unlike anything Zach (Zach by the way, not Zack) Randolph did, or Lamar Odom or anyone else you mentioned with the possible exception of Allen Iverson. Iverson got a lot of criticism after being charged with 14 felony counts so I guess it makes sense that he got a lot of scrutiny. When Michael Phelps gets charged with over a dozen felonies and you selectively choose to ignore the backlash, then you can make the argument you just made.

Rasheed Wallace still has a ton of endorsement deals. As does Allen Iverson. Did they get a 'free black pass?'

Then again, Bode Miller (white ski jumper) lost his endorsement deals for drinking too much. Jason Giambi lost a BUNCH of deals for doing steroids. Where was their 'white pass?'

My guess is, it's not black or's TALENT that's at the heart of these endorsement deals AND at the heart of the public perception of the players involved.

Allen Iverson is talented. Rasheed Wallace won a championship right after his arrests for weed. Phelps won 14 gold medals. Josh Hamilton is a stud. They keep their endorsement deals and don't get much public hate. (though I'd argue that Michael Phelps IS getting a lot of negative attention)

Bode Miller sucked in the Olympics. Jason Giambi's stats dropped off the charts. Zach Randolph and Damon Stoudamire played bad defense and just weren't that talented in Portland and Portland missed the playoffs a bunch of years in a row. Lamar Odom is soft and an underachiever. They got public scrutiny.

Anonymous said...

I guess Barack Obama got a 'free white pass' for admitting to smoking weed repeatedly as a youngster?


Big Man said...

I'm talking about Iverson first weed charge, not the incident involving his wife that turned out to be a case of lying relatives.

I think the Phelps coverage has looked for a reason to make excuses for him. I've read FAR more reports reminding us that Phelps is young and that weed is no big deal. Do me a favor and check out Sports on My Mind for a real run down of the Phelps issue since i didn't feel like spending that much time on it.

If you honestly think black athletes are treated the same as white athletes by the media as it relates to crime, then you are either willfully ignorant or you or a liar.

But thanks for commenting.

oyster said...

Big Man, I agree with you about the disparity of treatment in general and in this case.

However, it's somewhat interesting that the Sheriff in S. Carolina might bring Phelps up on charges.

Yes, this is probably just to grandstand, but I still thought it was interesting.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Big Man,

Deacon, I hate to demonize anyone for such petty stuff, but I am thoroughly convinced that until white masses see someone who looks like themselves get reamed, then they won't understand the treatment of black athletes.

Anon, Rasheed has a bunch of endorsements? Really? Barry Bonds was the most talented player ever, but barely got endorsements even before steroid allegations.

Now, as for Phelps, there are two issues here. Unlike recent misbehaving white athletes like Brad miller and Matt Jones, they did not hide this story. Because they COULDN'T hide this story. There is a photograph!!! That is the money shot right there. Of course we are talking about one of America's top 5 most endorsable athletes too. But here is a question to consider: Why was Phelps outed by a British tabloid, but not an American paper? While possible, it is just hard for me to believe that no one in American media saw that picture first. After all, it happened in South Carolina.

OG, The Original Glamazon said...

I feel you Big Man, but we should attribute also to this that MJ is close to legalization. And IMO will be legal in the next years. That's neither here nor there bc it is not legal now and you are right any black athlete would be questioned.

No endorsements lost just a boy being a boy, but it does seem when black athletes who share the same characteristics of Phelps get in the same kind of trouble its the begining of the end. And not a boy being a boy.


OG, The Original Glamazon said...

I feel you Big Man, but we should attribute also to this that MJ is close to legalization. And IMO will be legal in the next years. That's neither here nor there bc it is not legal now and you are right any black athlete would be questioned.

No endorsements lost just a boy being a boy, but it does seem when black athletes who share the same characteristics of Phelps get in the same kind of trouble its the begining of the end. And not a boy being a boy.


Dizzy said...

So True Big Man, th elevel of uproar definitely shows some latent racism in North American society. Sure, some people are calling for his head, but the general consensus (vague I know, but we all get a feeling of what others are feeling about an issue right?) seems to be, good boy having some dumb fun/mistakes.

By the way MODI, you hit the nail on the head, soon as I heard it was the Brits I had to think there were a few American newspapers that turned down the story.

Icehouse said...

Free Terry Glenn!

Anonymous said...

Anon you are full of it and a half!! Please those piddly little calls for his head do NOT equal the vitrol and venom black male athletes get and most if the time over the PETTIEST of things. So cut the crap!!

Raving Black Lunatic