How Black Athletes &
Free Speech Piss Off
White America

Exclusive to
By Douglas Herman
The day the shit hit the Olympic fan occurred in summer of 1968. A pair of American sprinters and recent Olympic medal winners, John Carlos and Tommy Smith, stood on the podium in Mexico City to receive their medals. As the American national anthem played, an unforgettable Olympic moment occured. Smith and Carlos lowered their heads, and raised a black-gloved fist.
Feelings of disbelief, followed by fury swept over white America like a south Florida hurricane. How could those uppity niggas on the podium shame the wonderful country that gave them everything? The white mainstream media immediately went into a feeding frenzy. Carlos and Smith were suspended and sent home.
Never mind that few white Americans knew (or cared) that weeks earlier, several hundred students in Mexico City had been massacred by the host country for expressing the same right of "free" _expression that the two medal winners allegedly abused. Free speech, it seemed, was a dangerous thing and evidently had no place in public squares, podiums or sporting events.
Sport, and especially the Olympics, was always considered sacrosanct. Above politics. Athletes were expected to perform, fondle their medals, smile for the camera--and shut up. Smith and Carlos, like Muhammed Ali, had broken a scared covenant. The only way to deal with pampered, uppity niggas in the new century (since lynching was outlawed), was to teach them a lesson.
Lynch them in the press.
That feeling remains today, nearly forty years after Muhammed Ali was suspended from boxing and lost his championship for protesting the war. Be a good nigger, be Cassius Clay again, white people seemed to say. Keep your mouth shut and perform. Be like Mike--Michael Jordan--or better yet, be like Tiger Woods. They never say anything.
Recently suspended NFL star, Terrell Owens. learned the high price of petulance when he crossed the line by criticizing the organization which employed him. Owens called them classless on national television. So the Philadelphia Eagles suspended him for the remainder of the year, as if to emphasize his point.
"T.O., it's official. Your initials now stand for Totally Obnoxious," wrote white sports columnist, Pete Prisco. "There was a cancer removed from this (NFL) locker room."
The consensus of white opinion concurred. In a poll conducted by" "Did the Eagles make the right decision suspending Owens?"--93% of respondents agreed with the suspension."Another ingorant (sic) ball player with poor upbringing," ranted blogger, Dale Robbins. "Another 'brother' with an attitude problem," concurred fellow blogger, Petronord.
"Turns out Owens is a cancer that transcends team boundaries," added indignant white sports columnist, Tim Dahlberg, fixated on fatal diseases, like his colleague. "And he spreads quickly. It took him less than a season and a half in Philadelphia to create such a mess that it might be too late to repair."
Cancer? Too late to repair?
Sounds almost as if white bloviators Dahlberg and Prisco were talking about the cancerous mess in Iraq (caused by rich white men) rather than referring to one self- absorbed black athlete.
The pompous outrage of fat, white sportswriters is always laughable and ludicrous. Yet the palpable indignation of white sports fans, fueled by the legion of moralistic white scribes like Prisco and Dahlberg, who pen odes to touchdowns from the loftiness of ivory towers, might be laughable except for the serious issue of an ignorant citizenry, who lend more weight to the antics of a petulant black athlete than the, far more dangerous, actions of a petulant president.
Owens made the unforgivable sin of airing his resentment of Eagle management on a TV talk show. Suspended once before, for his on-field behavior, Terrell Owens seemed to exhibit all the unapologetic chutzpah of fellow pariah, black boxer, Jack Johnson.
A hundred years ago, Jack London, wrote of boxing champ Johnson, "(Former white champion) Jim Jeffries must now emerge from his Alfalfa farm and remove that golden smile from Jack Johnson's face...Jeff, it's up to you. The White Man must be rescued."
The noble White Man"sports fans in this case--must be rescued from uppity niggas, whether Jack Johnson or Terrell Owens. Ingrates, loudmouths, self-promoters, uppity niggas like Owens never seem to know their place.
Is it a race issue or a freedom of speech issue, or simply a case of an insolent but talented (black) performer acting up?
"I blame the front office," said long-suffering Phillie fan, Bill 'Harbo' Heaney. "They should have made him happy. I made a living out of reading people and manipulating them, and T.O. looked easy from where I sit. Promise him more money, tell him he's wonderful, and send him out to play. Who cares what he says on some obscure TV program?"
But "cancers," especially black one, must be cut out for the good of the team. And suspending black malcontents and withholding their pay, serves as a stern reminder to the rest of the (mostly black) pro athletes in America.
The idea that Philly is better without Owens is laughable," said Dave Zirin, author of the provocative yet entertaining book, What's My Name, Fool? "Yes he is a loose cannon. But the only thing 'unbecoming' about Owens is the roster bonus the team will owe him if he stays on the squad."
So straighten up, future black sports stars, shut your fucking mouths--or risk a suspension, and thus millions in salary and product endorsements. Even if what you have to say is obviously true.
"T.O. was correct," added Eagle fan, Heaney. "McNabb choked, literally and figuratively, we all saw that in the Super Bowl...and I could do a better job at pleasing T.O. than the Eagles' front office. They screwed up with a screwed up guy and they acted as nutty as him."
"They make the (black) players seem like Zulu warriors, inmates rioting in the asylum," said Bob Marvick. "Television loves that...Do you think that the NFL feels anything but love for T.O.? Who would watch? What would we talk about? My god, how fucking boring."
Uppity Niggas.
Black athletes--overpaid, over-pampered, over-indulged, or outspoken--will get no sympathy from the white fans who pay their salaries. White fans, most of them, work far too hard for far less money. But like the black athlete, the average white sports fan is clueless. He hasn't a say in his favorite sports team or in his country, or the management of either.
Only difference is, the white fan, unlike the black athlete, don't realize it.
Diehard sports fan and skinny white guy, Douglas Herman writes regularly for Rense and is the author of the modern classic novel, The Guns of Dallas



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