Thursday, August 25, 2011

Winners and Losers

By most accounts, newly minted NFL quarterback Cam Newton is a winner.

He won a national championship at Auburn, secured an impressive NFL contract as the first pick in the draft, and is competing for a starting spot. I would imagine Charlie Sheen would say he's "Winning."

But, everything that sparkles ain't a diamond..

It appears that Newton's new employer notified him before he got drafted that tattoos, piercings and long hair weren't the way to go. He said this right after he hired a white player who has tattoos, long hair and piercings.


On a certain level, the demands make sense. Many businesses have formal and informal dress codes. Maintaining a job requires adherence to these guidelines. When your job pays you $24 million, it seems like a reasonable demand, correct? Hell most of us follow the dress code for far less than 1 percent of that type of money.

But, why would there be different rules for a black player and a white player. It would be easy to make a simple racial connection here, but that would be wrong. The racial connection is far more complex. Jeremy Shockey, the white tight end with the tats, piercings and hair, isn't allowed to have those things because he's white, he's allowed to have them because he plays tight end.

Cam Newton wasn't just drafted to play football, he was drafted to play the sport's glamour position: quarterback. He was drafted to be the new face of the franchise. As such, his black mug will be marketed all across Carolina to white fans with pockets deep enough to pony up for season tickets and gobs of merchandise. The bottom line is that the quarterback puts more butts in the seats than the tight end on most squads.

The concern over Newton's appearance is related to the fact that his face has to be sold to white folks, and many white folks don't want to get behind certain types of black people. They may tolerate dreads, tats and piercings, but they don't like them. They don't respect them. And if they have their druthers, they would rather support a black athlete who didn't have them. Or, better yet, a white athlete who doesn't have them.

The Panthers owner is aware of these feelings and shares them. He wants to keep those folks happy, so he's more than willing to allow their discrimination and bias to drive his actions. And for the most part, the rest of the sporting world will shake their heads, but agree that it's his right.

Just like folks agree that it is the right of businesses to serve who they want to served, or police to stop who they want to stop, or governments to fly the flags they want to fly. Way too many folks seem quite comfortable with bending their heads and saying "What can I do?" when faced with obvious instances of actions based on racial prejudice.

Seems like certain folks are just born to be losers.



spacemonkey said...

Hrm. This sort of thing seems to tie in with your 'It Is What It Is' post from last week. It seems to me that the kind of extra complexity in the relationship between double standards and race is often used by white people to do some almost-plausible creative hand-waving, assure themselves there's no racism to be seen and dismiss someone's claims.

Big Man said...

I would agree with that. As I've written before, "racism" is a very troubling word for white people and they do whatever they can to avoid using it

Imhotep said...

Me think the owner should be concerned with improving on the Panther's league worst record of 2 wins and 14 loses, and if a player with tats can lead the way to more wins, why should the owner care about body art? The teams will be more competitive and the value of the franchise will increase. Certainly a win-win for the owner.

Cam's career will ultimately be judged by wins and loses, and not by the amount of tats or body piercing. White folks maybe frightened by the visual of a young black man with tats, but what else is new.

Raving Black Lunatic