Thursday, October 23, 2014

The Racism Stories Sportswriters Avoid

The media loves to talk about race. Loves to only talk about it in ways that fits the official narrative. Evil whites, oppressed blacks, nonexistent Asians and Hispanics, and nothing ever changes from 1865 unless it is a good white doing something for an oppressed black (sorry Asians and Hispanics, you don't exist to journalists). Sports writers love a good race story. The great white hope (boxing), the great black hope (quarterback), why aren't there any blacks in baseball, breaking color barriers are constant stories. One story that never gets explored is "why are blacks so racist when it comes to sports".

Just in the last month, two interesting news leaks or quotes have been out there that the media is delicately handling and not taking a moment to analyze or dig deeper. This is in comparison to the deep dive of American racism from leaked Richie Incognito texts that when fully revealed, show Incognito to be not the horrible racist the media portrayed him as and hinted at Jonathan Martin's agent knowing the media would portray it one way. Rookie Nik Stauskas said, "I understand that I'm a rookie and I'm white, so people are going to attack me at all times". After the Percy Harvin trade from the Seattle Seahawks, it has leaked that some players in the Seahawks organization feel Russell Wilson isn't black enough. Keep in mind we have a black president so white he makes Bryant Gumbel look militant.

The Stauskas comments have not created a firestorm of soul searching by NBA writers. The Russell Wilson comment is not putting blacks under the microscope for the concept of black enough. Stauskas is an NBA player voicing the idea that a white will have special focus from other players. I deliberately linked to the NY Daily News article because that writer, in true liberal fashion, managed to avoid the issue of black racism entirely and turn it into a way to talk about white racism. I tip my hat to the mental gymnastics that essay forced him to perform, and the fact that he will have to wake up knowing he is a whore in the service of progressive politics not a sportswriter. How many white kids shy away from basketball due to black behavior? How many American white males over 6'6" as a percentage of population are in the NBA compared to European white males over 6'6"?

Wilson's dilemma is sad. It is partly sad due to the accusation being a slight echo of the "cornball brother" comments about RG3. RG3 was a bit conservative and had a white girlfriend that he married before knocking up. Blacks once again question the blackness of someone, not due to genetic black lineage, but due to not conforming to behavioral norms. Could a single sportswriter connect the two and maybe, just maybe, expand the idea out to the broader cultural problem of black dysfunction? Nature and nurture work to mold people, and if NFL quarterbacks will get the "you are not one of us" treatment for having white friends or being well spoken, what chance does your black friends kid have if he wants to do well in school?

These are simple questions. White kids probably do avoid some sports. It's not all of them, but at the margins. Professional sports like anything elite are a giant funnel. Fewer kids going in means not as many will come out at the end. Let's reverse this. If a liberal is going to tell you that simply the institutional legacy of slavery that ended 150 years ago can affect a modern black kid's SAT scores, why can't tribal aggression on the court influence a white kid to put the ball down? If a million dollar quarterback will get questioned about belonging, any kid can and most kids will want to belong to the crowd. Trayvon and Michael Brown both had dads in their lives, but something happened where they still felt the need to shake down convenience store owners, steal stuff at school, charge cops and/or fat neighborhood watch guys. Let's not talk about that though. Only Southern white coaches can be racist. Everyone knows that.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

The Royals' Cinderella Story

One of the best set ups in sports is when the dominant, powerhouse team takes on the scrappy underdog. It sucks in marginal viewers, listeners and readers. The story is easy to sell, and plays on two American loves. America loves the powerhouse colossus that destroys all, and it pretends to be a hard fighting underdog that with a little moxie and improvisation, can pull through in the end. Baseball will miss out on this with the elimination this post-season of all big market teams, but it has a Cinderella story that usually one finds only in March Madness. The Kansas City Royals are rolling through the playoffs, and everyone is loving the small market team improbably beating up bigger and better foes each round. There is one catch though. The Royals are still spending a ton of money on their roster.

In the minds of sports fans, the small market team is by definition a small television market team from a mid-tier city. The association with small market is small payroll. In baseball this contrast was best exemplified a decade or so ago as the Yankees and Red Sox bankrolled teams for more than $150 million per year, and occasionally met the Athletics or another team with a payroll half or less than half of Yankees/Red Sox levels. The Royals are not near the top of the payroll charts, but they are also right in the middle at a rather inflated payroll of $92 million. Sure, the big market teams spend more than small market teams, but the increase in spending by smaller teams is large. Just this year, all but two teams spent $77 million or more on payroll. That is far different than ten years ago when there was a greater spread in spending. If the Royals are a have not, they are a free spending have not. A key thing from the link on the Royals spending is that they are breaking even with this high payroll despite a poor television deal and an increase in attendance but still not a maximum capacity attendance situation. They probably even have room to increase ticket prices if they wanted to for next year. They can spend this much and still survive.

This is good for the game, and most likely the outcome of better regional television contracts and the league's revenue sharing. Baseball has changed the revenue sharing with time and added a luxury tax. It is not the hard cap of the NFL or the silly, somewhat non-existent cap of the NBA, but it must be doing the trick for teams if Baltimore, St. Louis and Kansas City can all break even or make money with payrolls above $90 million that a few years ago would've been considered rich. The more amazing thing with baseball salaries is that despite overall inflation of the roster totals, the top earners are not signing ridiculous contracts compared to the A-Rod deals of years ago. Kansas City is still the Cinderella. Those powder blue uniforms look pretty on-screen, and Kaufmann Stadium is a beautiful park as well. Even though I am a Baltimore Orioles fan, I will pull for the Royals if they do make it to the World Series. Nearly nine figure payroll or not, I hope this Cinderella story has a few more pages to it.