by B.J. Delas Armas
on 2/03/2008 05:40:00 PM
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Your Leader's Identity
In the American team sports that I follow both on TV and online be it the NBA, NCAA football, or the NFL, I see black, white, pacific Island, Spanish-speaking peoples emerging all the time. It's nice because I definitely didn't see much of that growing up, if at all.
Not seeing my culture, my people represented was the kind of thing that made me question why the hell I had to be Filipino. Why did I have to be a culture that no one's heard or talked about? Nowhere to be seen on ESPN. How the heck would I ever become famous or even get on a newspaper (where I wasn't being described as a murder suspect or an FBI wish list) with a name like I had? Delas Armas anyone? Could they even fit that in the back of a jersey? We used to joke that the last name Delespiritusanto on the back of a jersey would have to come full circle.
However, At least nowadays in sports, I'm seeing little trinklets of multiculturalism. More folks from different races and ethnicities in sports representing.
While that counts as a few steps forward, I ask myself what power do these people of yellow, black, brown-skinned identities hold?
When observing fans of all sports, I noticed one thing: people really really love the idea of the white guy as the head honcho, top dog, the leader. People will fight hard to have the white guy be the guy on top.
It's why a white guy like Kirk Hinrich, the Chicago Bulls' point guard automatically gets compared to players like Steve Nash, the NBA MVP and hall-of-famer John Stockton, despite not having any of their abilities AT ALL. Those guys were actually known for passing the ball, and making good decisions with the ball. Hinrich is known for dribbling around the basketball court, and panicking in the clutch. The man is nowhere near their class and basically has earned his prestige because he shares their pigmentation in a league where the pigmentation is generally much darker.
The guy is not even that good on this team. He's had his starting spot on the team saved for him ever since he's been a rookie --- he's the only guy in the Bulls backcourt who hasn't had to fight for playing time despite his lack of actual impact. Since he's not really that talented, people make stupid unquantifiable, highly subjective statements: "he's a 2-way player, he plays really great defense." Even more outrageous is that this guy has had one of the worst fall-offs, yet he's never involved in trade rumors or criticized nearly as much as his more impactful, higher-scoring, clutch counterpart Ben Gordon.
Ben Gordon is currently the team's leading scorer, despite being relegated to the bench, receiving a lowball contract offer, and being ignored on offense by Hinrich. However, when compared to Hinrich, it's his negative traits that are emphasized: he's undersized and one-dimensional.
The naturalness of a white leader is probably why people at Bruinsnation couldn't stomach the idea of a Norm Chow-Dewayne Walker-led team.
I think their distaste for those two as coaching candidates was not necessarily rooted in their race, but it seems that the fans at that site had a tendency to assume the worst with anyone outside of their fellow white folks.
Norm Chow, Chinaman, apparently had no personality to get the job done. They cited his lack of experience, wondering why a 61-year old Asian guy in a white and black league hadn't had a head coaching job despite having coached some of the most elite quarterbacks in college football history and having won a national championship. B
Because he was so old and still had no coaching experience despite those record book and national championship credentials, there HAD to be something wrong with him. There just had to be.
Dewayne Walker was a self-promoting Dorrell-holdover.
Together these two earned the derisive name "Choker."
No other coaching candidates (most of whom were even LESS qualified than these two) received such names. There was "Slick Rick", but that disappared once it was clear that Walker and Chow were being considered as coaching candidates.
Nothing personal against the new white guy at UCLA, Rick Neuheisel, I admit I like what Rick's been able to do so far as far as the working-togetherness of his hired guns and recruiting, but the same people who were pulling strongly for him initially balked at the idea of him becoming coach.
These people thought we had run a lackluster coaching search campaign.
It seems like they only really rallied around Rick Neuheisel NOT because he was a effusively qualified and overly strong candidate (he definitely brings that baggage of cheating with him) but only because he was NOT Norm Chow or Dewayne Walker. He was not the timid, stoic, cold white guy and he wasn't the self-promoting black dude who since he was black obviously was still attached to everything from the fired black coach.
In a twist of irony, when it was announced that Norm Chow and Dewayne Walker would be retained on staff, these same dumbass fans calling Chow and Walker, Choker were going apeshit over their hirings. They were most happy when it happened because in their own words,"it was Rick Neuheisel's choice" as if white people's choices are the only good decisions made. It was Rick Neuheisel's choice so it had to be good. Wonder what it would be like had it been the inverse in any way, with Neuheisel as a coordinator or something.
Funny how in this case like the case with Kirk Hinrich/Ben Gordon, they like to put people of color in specialized one-dimensional roles, but not leadership ones.
Leadership, colored people, never that. One dimensional scoring guard, offensive coordinator, defensive coordinator, as opposed to 2-dimensional player and head coach.
For years, people have talked about this issue, but it's probably been a "minor" issue or something just not talked about.
The paucity of black owners, black coaches, black quarterbacks in sports where the number of players who are black are high is not really a social justice issue, but I think it reflects some lessons about the way our society in the US of A works.
In general, it's become "natural" for white people to be "our" leaders. They need to be the decisionmakers because they're the ones with the experience, the education, etc.
What bothers me is that we don't ask why isn't that they're the ones with "experience" or why their decisions are better?
Without a white guy as leader, it's unnatural and odd otherwise, or so my dad implies when discussing how weird it is to have a president by the name of Obama.
Labels: Chicago Bulls, Media Discourse, Racial Misunderstandings, UCLA