N-Words, R-Words and the Defense of White Power in the NFL

N-Words, R-Words and the Defense of White Power in the NFL | NewBlackMan (in Exile)

N-Words, R-Words and the Defense of White Power in the NFL

by David J. Leonard and C. Richard King | NewBlackMan (in Exile)

At best the recent news that the NFL would consider instituting a penalty for use of the N-word on the playing field is ironic or contradictory. This from a league that has maintained an active defense of the R-word as a legitimate and honorific name for one of its more popular franchises is At worst, each word highlights the entrenched racism of sports culture, and society at large, and a refusal to confront white power.

One word is read a racial slur, and only a racial slur, and must not be uttered even as the structures of violence, degradation and inequality remain entrenched in society; the other word, despite linguistic, historic, and psychological evidence, is framed as anything but a racial slur which can be used in marketing, media coverage, and fan cheers.

The former word is taken to be a reference to the bad old days of racism, best forgotten; a reminder of the unresolved history of slavery and the social death that rendered Blacks as property to be exchanged and exploited. The latter word is defended as a tradition, ideal or so it is claimed to the so-called time after race, the raceless present, and more a trademark, a valuable piece of property from which Dan Snyder, the league, media conglomerates, and countless others make obscene profits from distortion and dehumanization.

And it is hard not to see in this pattern that some kinds of racism matter; some types of utterances elicit discomfort and unease; some can be seen and described, and demand public action, while others remain invisible, unspeakable, and unmoving.

After a season that began with a white player, drunk at a concert, calling a security guard a n****r because he felt slighted, and ended with a damning report on the culture of the Miami Dolphins’ locker room–in which use of the same word figured prominently in the bullying of Jonathan Martin–it is perhaps understandable that the NFL wants to be responsive to “incivility,” if not outright hate.

Yet, the NFL’s refusal to deal with violence, to deal with racism in its many forms, points to the true motives here. This is ultimately about regulating (black) players’ – their utterances, their agency, and their bodies. Just as the Palace Brawl was used to rationalize and justify the NBA Dress Code, the elimination of straight from high school players, and countless other initiatives that disciplined and punished the NBA’s primarily black players, Goodell is using Riley Cooper, Richie Incognito and the growing debate around the N-word to increase his power.

This is all about bout respect, decency and discipline, as defined by Roger Goodell and his corporate partners. This is all about control, it’s about power, the politics of respectability, disciplining and punishment, selling it’s corporate multiculturalism, and regulating the voices and bodies of its primarily black players. This is why the focus has been on black players, on discipline, on the lack of respect that “today’s players” show for the game, each other, and social norms.

Not surprisingly then, some see in these contradictions as self-serving, even callous cynical hypocrisy. While acknowledging these patterns, we think they are part of a larger, unmarked problem, namely white power. And the proposed rule change and the defense of the Washington DC franchise both must be read as efforts to protect white power while maintain control over discourse and keeping the voices and bodies of people of color in their prescribed places. Despite appearance to the contrary both the refusal to #dropthename and the push to #droptheslur reflect a refusal to challenge racism. Each seeks to preserve white power and the profitability of the NFL; each privileges white desire ahead of anything else.


Continue reading at  N-Words, R-Words and the Defense of White Power in the NFL | NewBlackMan (in Exile)#dropthesl

NewBlackMan: The Elbow Heard Around the Nation: The NBA and the End of ‘Peace’

The Elbow Heard Around the Nation: The NBA and the End of ‘Peace’

by David J. Leonard | NewBlackMan

The Elbow Heard Around the Nation: The NBA and the End of ‘Peace’

by David J. Leonard | NewBlackMan

When Ron Artest announced his intent to change his name to Metta World Peace, I had discussions with several people about potentially changing the name of my book, After Artest (May 2012, SUNY Press) to reflect his metamorphosis. Examining how the Palace Brawl forever changed the NBA, while also highlighting the larger scripts of race and criminalization, After Artest reflects on the processes of demonization and criminalization directed at Artest and his black baller brethren in the aftermath of the 2004 fight between the Pacers-Pistons-Piston fans.  While deciding against changing the book’s title for a myriad of reasons, one principle issue for me in pushing back against a title like “Peace after the Palace” was that in spite of efforts from the NBA, its fans, and the media establishment to police, punish, and control blackness in their efforts to secure peace, neither condemnations and suspensions, dress codes or age restrictions, would bring about peace for the league because of the ways that race and racial narratives operate within the American cultural landscape.  The efforts to recreate the illusion of a racially-colorblind Jordan-esque landscape were futile given persistent anti-black racism and governing stereotypes.  Peace after the palace was not possible because of the ways that blackness and anti-black racism overdetermined its meaning within the national landscape.  Artest and what he embodied in the national imagination guided and served as a lens as the NBA sought to deracialize itself within the national imagination.  This is why I start After Artest as follows:

“The real question, how does it feel to be a problem” – W.E.B. DuBois, 1903 (Quoted in Jackson 2006, p. 9)

“Ron Artest more than likely will be suspended, but so should Kobe” (Resnick 2009)

“Kobe vs. Artest: Proof Artest Will Kill Your Team” (2009)

“NBA Bad Boy Ron Artest of L.A. Lakers Admits He Had A Problem: Drinking During Games! ” (Douglas 2009)

“Trevor Ariza loses shoe, Ron Artest tosses it into the stands” (2009).

Artest, who’s trying to put his bad-boy image behind him, said he could simply display his ring in his living room or he could wear it.’ But I think it’ll be more important to give back to something I believe in, which is providing kids with someone to talk to because it’s so expensive. I pay for parenting counseling, marriage counseling and anger management, and it’s very expensive. This will be for children of all demographics, rich or poor — preferably the rich can pay for their own psychologists — but it’ll be a great way to help kids who don’t know where they’re going in their life at this point’ (“Ron Artest Plans” 2010)


Artest, who’s trying to put his bad-boy image behind him, said he could simply display his ring in his living room or he could wear it.’ But I think it’ll be more important to give back to something I believe in, which is providing kids with someone to talk to because it’s so expensive. I pay for parenting counseling, marriage counseling and anger management, and it’s very expensive. This will be for children of all demographics, rich or poor — preferably the rich can pay for their own psychologists — but it’ll be a great way to help kids who don’t know where they’re going in their life at this point’ (“Ron Artest Plans” 2010)


At first glance, the above headlines point to the fact that Ron Artest’s personal history, and especially his association with the Palace Brawl, continues to determine the public narrative assigned to him by the dominant media and broader public discourse. Even those instances of praise and celebratory redemption does so in relationship to his past indiscretions. Despite the banality of his exchange with Kobe and his tossing of another player’s shoe off the court (his sportsmanship was questioned by an announcer), and notwithstanding his efforts to admit to a past drinking problem1 or shed light on the issue of mental health, each in varying degrees have been the read through the lens of the Palace Brawl.

In 2009, Ron Artest admitted to drinking alcohol at halftime while he was a member of the Chicago Bulls. Hoping to teach kids by sharing his past mistakes, Artest’s admission, not surprisingly, prompted much media and public debate. Although some people questioned the truthfulness of his admission, others used this moment as an opportunity to speculate about whether Artest was indeed drunk when he entered the stands in 2004. Likewise, his tossing of Trevor Ariza’s shoe into the stands, along with his physical and verbal altercations with Kobe Bryant, were given amplified meaning and importance considering his role. In all four instances, Artest’s past and his character are used as points of reference.

Often invoking his involvement in the 2004 Palace Brawl, the dominant frame that facilitates his representations is not only constrained by Artest’s personal and professional histories, but by the prism of race and blackness. He is consistently imagined as a problem. The nature of these representations point to the ways in which blackness overdetermines not only the meaning of Artest, but of all black NBA players in a post-Brawl context. Post-Artest, blackness is the hegemonic point of reference for both the commentaries and the policy shifts within the NBA, demonstrating that the Palace Brawl changed the racial meaning of the NBA and thus changed the regulatory practices governing the league. . . . .

The Palace Brawl was the culmination of the recoloring of the NBA. It represented a moment when the blackness of the league was irrefutable and thus needed to be managed, controlled, and, if necessary, destroyed. After Artest argues that the Palace Brawl served as that “aha moment” in which blackness displaced the racially transcendent signifier of Michael Jordan. This blackness, and its representative threat, were undeniable and, as such, necessitated intervention, termed as an assault within this book’s title. Not surprisingly, anti-black racist/white racial frames have anchored the debates and policies that have followed Artest; frames based on racial transcendence or colorblindness remain in the background. In this sense, Artest mandated a reversal wherein race/blackness had to be noticed (and controlled/destroyed), leading to public articulations of the white racial frame instead of denials of racial significance.

With this in mind, it is not surprising that the sports media establishment, and the social media world is all abuzz following a Metta World Peace foul on James Harden on Sunday in a nationally televised game.  A hard foul that was reckless and dangerous; one that warranted an injection (unlike others I have no idea his “intent”) and a suspension; and one that was disappointing to say the least and not worry of defense. I am not here to defend the foul or explain, although those who use the foul as a referendum on Metta, the NBA, or blackness need to check themselves.

It was unfortunate; yet equally unfortunate and more destructive have been the response.   Hayden Kim, on The Bleacher Report, referenced Metta’s “unstable mental stable” and an inability to maintain control; worse yet, he described his outburst in the following way:  “As he pounded his chest, acting like a gorilla during mating season, he caught James Harden with an ill-advised elbow that could have caused an earthquake” (the original piece no longer has this language but can still be found here and here).  The hyperbole notwithstanding, the descriptor of Metta as a “gorilla” given its historic meaning is disturbing to say the least – disgraceful, in fact.

Ken Berger focused more on the typical hyperbole and ‘what ifs” with his discussion of the elbow heard around the world.  “Metta World Peace’s vicious, dangerous elbow to the head of James Harden Sunday was no garden variety NBA elbow, and it probably will result in longer than your typical elbowing suspension,” writes Berger. “It should, anyway. This was about as cheap as a cheap shot gets. It’ll have nothing to do with the fact that Metta World Peace is really Ron Artest, he of Malice at the Palace fame. World Peace, after all, has come a long way since his 73-game suspension for going into the stands in Auburn Hills, Mich., in 2004, and even won the NBA’s citizenship award last season (when his name was still Ron Artest).”  Berger, unlike so many others notes his recent citizenship award, falls into the trap that he cautions against: reading the incident through the Palace Brawl.

Continue reading @NewBlackMan: The Elbow Heard Around the Nation: The NBA and the End of ‘Peace’.

SLAM ONLINE | » Leave LO Alone

Leave LO Alone

The callousness of the NBA.

by David J. Leonard / @DR_DJL

Taking a break from LeBron James, the NBA’s resident hateratti have recently focused its attention on Lamar Odom. With Carmelo, Andrew Bynum and Russell Westbrook ballin’; Kobe, DRose and Dwight Howard hurt; a “perfect” Kevin Durant; and Deron Williams and Kevin Love being on the Nets and Wolves, the NBA’s mean machine has turned its attention on the reigning Sixth Man of the Year.

The season began tumultuously for Odom, with his being initially traded to New Orleans only to be sent back to the Lakers, who at his request quickly traded him to the Dallas Mavericks for a draft pick. Media pundits and fans denounced the Lakers’ ineptitude all while praising the Mavericks for reloading their roster as part of their quest to repeat as Champions.

Unfortunately, the trade was probably the highlight of Odom’s (and the Maverick’s) season as things have gotten progressively worse, leading to his recent deactivation. From Sixth Man of the Year to persona-non-grata in less than a year is sad, yet the level of anger, vitriol and demonization directed at Odom is a sad commentary on sport and society.

Odom’s difficulty on the court has been widely attributed to his selfishness and inability to get over the trade. Portrayed as emotional and childish, his career-low statistics have been used to comment on his personality, demeanor and attitude. For example, Jen Engel Floyd, with “Odom mastered The Art of Not Trying in Dallas” argues that “he was hauling a lot of emotional baggage with him from L.A.—and he chose to do nothing.”

While providing zero evidence (reports have been that he wasn’t disruptive in the locker room), Floyd describes Odom as a “toxic force” resulting from his anger about being in Dallas—“There are pejoratives to describe Odom’s behavior. ‘Unprofessional’ and ‘selfish’ immediately spring to mind. I am kind of partial to ‘whiny, soft, narcissistic L.A. jerkhole.’”

Engel was not alone in the ad hominem personal attacks that focused on Odom’s maturity and demeanor over anything else. According to Mike Chiari, “rather than moving on and accepting that he wasn’t with the Lakers any longer, Odom decided to sulk, and his game was severely hindered by it.” Likewise, Benjamin Hochman continued the trend of “hatin’ the player” and not the game, questioning Odom’s “mental toughness.” Most revealing, and weeks before the Mavericks decided to banish Odom from the team, Jason Whitlock condemned Odom for his failure to play against the Lakers, explaining his failures to uphold a standard of masculinity.

Odom has chosen to sulk and brood and hide.

He wants to move back to L.A., and he apparently is willing to withhold his services in an effort to make it happen.

The Lakers dumped him, and, citing family matters, Lamar declined the chance to exact revenge in a nationally televised game.

Are you kidding me? Did Jordan skip games against the Bulls? Did Favre pass up a chance to play the Packers? OK, Lamar Odom is not Jordan or Favre. Kyle Orton took his shot against the Broncos and Tim Tebow. I bet Jeremy Lin will relish his chance to play against his hometown Golden State Warriors.

Family matters. You have to grow a pair to start a family, Lamar.

Evident here and throughout the national “hate on Lamar tour” is a tone that demonizes Odom; one that imagines him as selfish, immature, mentally weak, soft and feminine. Even the criticism directed at him for collecting a paycheck (enter Charles Barkley and 63 percent of fans in one poll) subscribes to the belief that Odom’s failures on the court are reflective of a choice not to commit to the Mavs, the game of basketball, or the fans. These commentaries are both personal and paternalistic, criticizing Odom for disappointing them because he chose to put himself in front of anyone or anything else.

What is disappointing about these responses is that they are yet another reminder of how society—whether it be the sports media or fans—views NBA stars as little more than commodities who are supposed to run up and down the court. The denied humanity and emotions, particularly impactful with the sports media’s treatment of black athletes, has been on full display. The lack of care or concern for his emotions—for the trauma that he is experiencing—embodies not just the ways that athletes are treated as dehumanized commodities who should produce or exit stage left, but also the ways that society denies and demonizes the mental trauma and the stress of African Americans.

Any failure to uphold that role is met with derision and pathologizing. In Odom’s case, his failures are explained in simple terms: He didn’t want to be traded, and rather than “man up,” he sulked, all the while collecting a paycheck. Given this tone, there has been little room to think about how Odom’s own history and recent events in his life might be impacting him.

Continue reading at SLAM ONLINE | » Leave LO Alone.

SLAM ONLINE | » The NBA’s Franchise Player?

The NBA’s Franchise Player?

The untouchable Blake Griffin or the can’t-do-right Andrew Bynum?

by David J. Leonard / @DR_DJL

After watching yet another commercial, seeing yet another magazine advertisement, and trip to Subway, both my 4-year-old son and 8-year-old daughter noted that Blake Griffin seemed to be everywhere.

No matter where they turned, no matter what was on the television, it is almost impossible not to see Griffin, all of which is emblematic of the power of the NBA’s marketing machine. Despite winning nothing of substance to-date and only putting up very good numbers over his short career (20 and 10), Blake has ascended as the face of the League.

Celebrating for his ferocity, his spectacular dunks, and his purported right attitude, Griffin has filled the hero gap left by LeBron’s “Decision,” Dwight Howard’s “Indecision,” Melo’s “New York State of Mind,” and Kobe’s “Baggage.” Griffin, on the other hand, has consistently been represented as a “breath of fresh air,” a throw back player, and someone who fans can cheer for.

Celebrating his balance, the media narrative consistently depicts Blake as a competitor on the floor and a good guy off the floor. For example, TJ Simers highlights the difficulties Blake must endure and the grace that he has shown under this pressure:

That almost speaks to a sensitivity one would never consider Griffin possessing, given the way he imposes his physical will on opponents. But he is still young, and when asked about the highlight of his summer, surprisingly it was his brother’s wedding rather than the Hollywood treatment he received.

Similarly, Justin Verrier offered explanation and, in some regards, an excuse for Blake’s “antics” as a means to celebrate him:

But Cousins and Gasol aren’t entirely wrong, either: While it’s hard to argue that Griffin is “babied” by refs, given the game-by-game punishment he takes in the post, he certainly benefits from his share of favorable calls (in particular, the one that sent Cousins off the deep end to begin with). And Griffin has made a habit of forcefully dropping his off-hand on some of his more memorable dunks, creating both a way to propel himself higher and return some of the force applied to him on his way up (a natural reaction with unintentional consequences, he’s said in the past).

But these are only minor squabbles in a season full of them, throughout the League. Their comments certainly put a national spotlight on Griffin’s on-court demeanor—Cousins’ comments alone overshadowing recent ugly performances by the Heat and Thunder—but they may end up saying more about how players around the League perceive the rise of young stars like Griffin.

You have to crawl before you walk. You’re supposed to intern before you get that big job. And in basketball, like all other professional sports, you’re supposed to pay your dues.

This represents the crux of the Blake the narrative: great kid, whose passion, competitiveness and work ethic at times get the best of him. What could have been a criticism thus becomes a way of celebrating Blake Griffin as unique and special.

“He’s a highlight at any second of the game, but he’s also smart enough to know that the fundamentals are the part that will make him better and help this team,” noted his coach Vinny del Negro. “He handles it very well. He has great humility and great character.”

Evident here is how the Blake Griffin story is very much a figment of the media/NBA imagination. Shooting free throws with the precision of Shaq and Chris Dudley, possessing only two moves—the dunk and a 20-foot, pick-and-pop shot—and of course playing no defense are not the markers of a fundamentally-sound player. The description of Blake as humble doesn’t match his on-court persona of talk trashing in the tradition of Bird and Payton, and relishing the opportunity to embarrass an opponent with a poster shot.

Continue reading at SLAM ONLINE | » The NBA’s Franchise Player?.

NewBlackMan: Two Visions of ‘Black’ Evil, One White Gaze: Reading Kony 2012 and the Murder of Trayvon Martin

Two Visions of ‘Black’ Evil, One White Gaze: Reading Kony 2012 and the Murder of Trayvon Martin

by David C. Leonard | NewBlackMan

In the wake of 9/11 and the ongoing war on terror, the United States has increasingly relied on national narratives that offer certainty, comfort, and security. In catchphrases and sound bites, pundits and politicians remind Americans of the importance of protecting the homeland, the role of all Americans in safeguarding national space and American democratic values, the need to guard against the enemies of freedom and civilization, and the promise of spreading democracy throughout the world. As countless bodies fell, injured and dying, shattering families and communities over here and over there, multinational corporations have profited on an increased militarism, diminishing natural resources, and public panics. Within this climate, many in the United States have sought refuge in comforting narratives of good versus evil, civilization versus savagery. The power and cultural importance of these narratives has been evident with the murder of Trayvon Martin and in the spectacle of Kony 2012.

Prior to the start of the 2012 All Star game (I previously wrote that it was at halftime but based on timeline that appears to be incorrect), Trayvon Martin, a 17-year African American, decided to walk to the local store to get some candy and drinks. Tragically, it appears that he died because he was walking while black in a gated predominantly white community in Florida. Shortly after calling 911 to report a “suspicious” person within his community, George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch captain, confronted Martin, who was armed with skittles and an Arizona Ice Tea. What happened next is unclear, yet what is without much doubt is that Zimmerman shot Martin dead with a Kel Tek 9mm semi-automatic gun. Identified as a “threat” Martin fell victim at the hands of a gun.

In a world where African Americans, particularly black male youth, are consistently represented as threats, to the security, peace, culture, calm, and order, how can “threat” be seen outside of the context of race? In a world where racial profiling is routine and where explicit and implicit bias has created the criminalblackman, is it even possible to think about the confrontation and ultimate death of Martin outside of the paradigm of a criminalized of black body? The 911 call, the confrontation, and the ultimate death fits a larger pattern whereupon blackness is consistently imagined as threat, as danger, and as EVIL; as a cultural and social pariah blackness needs to be controlled, discipline, and ultimately punished. According to Michelle Alexander, “Just as African Americans in the North were stigmatized by the Jim Crow system even if they were not subject to its formal control. Black men today are stigmatized by mass incarceration and the social construction of the ‘criminalblackman’ whether they have ever been to prison or not” (p. 194). In a review of Alexander’s The New Jim Crow, Max Kanter describes the specter of criminalization as follows:

This is evidenced in part by dominant media and cultural narratives, institutionalized (and legalized) racial profiling, and police efforts to build mass databases of “suspected criminals” which contain information almost exclusively on racial minorities who have often done nothing criminal at all aside from having been born to black and brown parents. In addition to the numerous studies showing that most white Americans see crime in racial (nonwhite) terms, studies conducted by Princeton University also reveal that white felons fresh out of prison are more likely to get hired for jobs than equally qualified black men with no criminal record. African American men without criminal records are more ostracized and widely perceived as being more criminal than white men who have actually been convicted of felony crimes. That is how deeply black people have been stigmatized as criminals and social pariahs in our society.

This is the context that we need to understand what happened to Trayvon Martin not only on the fateful evening, but also in terms of police response and that of the media and general public.

The death of a child under suspicious circumstances would have thought to have led to Zimmerman’s arrest, yet no charges have levied against him to date. It represents another reminder of whose life really matters. Tracy Martin, Trayvon’s father, told the Huffington Post that the police basically saw Zimmerman as a good guy giving them reason not to arrest him at this point:

They respected [Zimmerman’s] background, that he studied criminal justice for four years and that he was squeaky clean.” He continued: “My question to them was, did they run my child’s background check? They said yes. I asked them what they came up with, and they said nothing. So I asked if Zimmerman had a clean record, did that give him the right to shoot and kill an unarmed kid?”

While Trayvon Martin is not trending on twitter nor eliciting 500,000 views on YouTube, much less 70 million, Kony 2012 has captured the national (global) imagination. With millions of views on YouTube and Vimeo, with ample donations directed toward the film’s producer – Invisible Children – and a national conversation about Joseph Kony and his crimes against humanity, Kony 2012 has elicited an outpouring from all corners of society.

Continue reading @ NewBlackMan: Two Visions of ‘Black’ Evil, One White Gaze: Reading Kony 2012 and the Murder of Trayvon Martin.

NewBlackMan: Floyd Mayweather and the Demonization of Black Athletes



Floyd Mayweather and the Demonization of Black Athletes

A Questionable Victory?

by Theresa Runstedtler and David J. Leonard | NewBlackMan

The ongoing efforts to control, manage, and demonize black athletes, especially black boxers, once again came to a head a few weeks ago when Floyd Mayweather, Jr. beat Victor Ortiz with a “controversial” knockout punch to win the world welterweight title.

The fight promised to be a battle of two diametrical opposites. The self-assured 34-year-old black tactician with a defensive strategy was set to take on an earnest, up-and-coming 24-year-old Latino with an iron chin and aggressive style. Mayweather’s scenes in the pre-fight HBO production of 24/7 – talking into a stack of money as if it were a phone, buying a new luxury car on a whim, and fighting with his father in front of a crowd of fans – were wildly colorful, sometimes surreal, sometimes stomach-turning, and entirely bombastic. But all the while, Mayweather kept training; he kept honing his craft and conditioning his body, even pulling his entourage out of bed (and out of the club) for 2:00 am workout sessions.

In the meantime, 24/7 fashioned Ortiz into a paragon of ascetic virtue. His scenes revolved around a triumphant and righteous tale of social uplift – the quintessential good immigrant story. He came from nothing. His parents abandoned him and he still managed to pull himself up by his own bootstraps to become a successful, but humble fighter. Unlike Mayweather with his large entourage and celebrity friends, Ortiz mostly kept to himself with his truck-driving trainer and loyal brother.

The first few rounds were tight with Mayweather grabbing the early lead. In the fourth round, in what was probably Ortiz’s most effective moments in the fight, the wheels came off his attempt to defeat Mayweather. Launching at Mayweather, Ortiz landed a vicious head butt, leading Referee Joe Cortez to step in to penalize Ortiz. After several apologies from Ortiz, a few hugs, a kiss or two, and the tapping of the gloves, the fight resumed; although it appears that Ortiz didn’t get the memo leaving him vulnerable to a classic Mayweather combo that ended as many have before: with his opponent on the ground. Replays clearly illustrate that Ortiz was not paying attention and not following the creed “to protect oneself at all time,” ending the fight in what was both one of the more climatic and anti-climatic moments in boxing history.

Before the fighters even exited the ring, commentators had already denied Mayweather the victory. Described as a “questionable” win, a “marginally legal” knockout, and as one that resulted from a “cheap shot” and a “sucker punch” the victory was not simply hallow but purportedly a window into Mayweather’s dubious character. “Like the Tyson ear biting incident of yesteryear, Floyd Mayweather proved to be dirty fighter this evening who hit a man when the action had not officially commenced by the referee,” noted Jet Fan on The Bleacher Report. “To a chorus of boos, Mayweather then imploded in a post-fight interview with HBO’s Larry Merchant as he questioned Merchant’s boxing resume and then proceeded to terminate the dialogue in a profanity laced tirade. To Merchant’s credit, he stood toe-to-toe with an obvious bully who seems to relish in antagonizing men twice his age, including his own father!” A commentary on The Statesmen encapsulates the demonization directed at Mayweather that used the fight to lament Floyd’s character, pathologies and otherwise undesirable traits:

Congratulations, Floyd Mayweather. You are now the most despised athlete on the planet, non-O.J. division. Mayweather is sullying his legacy as one of the greatest fighters of our generation. His latest classless missteps came last Saturday night with a one-two punch. First, he cold-cocked Victor Ortiz in the closing seconds of the fourth round of their welterweight championship fight while Ortiz was apologizing for an intentional head butt. Yes, what Ortiz did was idiotic — first the head butt and then letting his guard down while referee Joe Cortez had his back turned toward the fighters. But what Mayweather did — perfectly legit under strict interpretation of the rules — was a punk move. But he was just getting started. Mayweather then went after HBO analyst Larry Merchant in a post-fight interview, spewing profanities before Merchant grew tired of it and yelled, “I wish I was 50 years younger and I would kick your (butt).

Apparent from the media response was both a lack of respect and a dismissal of the specifics of what happened in the ring. Rather than simply comment on the fight, the media reasserted “common sense” understandings of black athletes, reiterating the narrative of Mayweather as an immature, greedy, and petulant child who represents everything that is wrong with modern professional sports culture. The media response in this regard reflects the longstanding project of constructing black athletes as “bad boys,” which in the end “works to reinforce efforts to tame their ‘out of control’ nature” (Ferber 2007, p. 20).

Continue reading at NewBlackMan: Floyd Mayweather and the Demonization of Black Athletes.