SLAM ONLINE | » Ballers, Political Shot Callers and the ‘Show Your Papers’ Movement

Ballers, Political Shot Callers and the ‘Show Your Papers’ Movement

An outbreak of racist taunts continues to be a problem at NCAA basketball games.

by C. Richard King and David J. Leonard

The past month has witnessed a series of racist cheers at sporting events. Fans at a University of Minnesota at Duluth mocked the visiting University of North Dakota hockey team, jeering “Small Pox Blankets”—a chant that belittles the school and Native Americans through a reference to its mascot, which converts the reality of genocide into a sporting smack down. In Pittsburgh, during a recent basketball game, fans (as well as players) from Brentwood High hurled racial epithets at Monessen High players. Three fans dressed banana costumes surrounding the primarily black Monessen team, as the left for the locker at halftime, yelling epithets while making monkey noises. Some parents reported that members of the Brentwood squad joined in, calling its opponent, “monkeys and cotton pickers.”

More recently, students at the predominantly white Alamo Heights High School celebrated the defeat of the largely Latino Edison High School with a chant of “USA, USA!” So, it was little surprise in the round of 64, members of the pep band from the University of Southern Mississippi (USM) yelled, “Where’s your green card?” at Kansas State University freshman Angel Rodriguez (who was born in Puerto Rico) as he took foul shoots.

Administrators were quick to apologize following each transgression, offering some variant on the standard refrain: we regret any offense…this is not us…we are not racist…we will take appropriate action. And to be fair, these chants are brief, spontaneous, and passing utterances. They lack sanction and surely do not represent the image that these schools hope to project. Their apologies to the contrary, in an historic moment marked by the rhetoric of color blindness, but not the alleviation of structural racism, the eruption of overt bias, particularly in the guise of clichéd hate speech and “jokes,” far from being abnormal actually reveals the norm, offering keen insights into historically white institutions and the persistence of white supremacy.

While taunting a fellow American citizen by inquiring about his green card exposes great ignorance (Puerto Ricans are US citizens and have been since 1917) and reflects deep antipathy toward Latinos, it is actually in keeping with the history of the University of Southern Mississippi (and countless other colleges and other universities). In fact, USM epitomizes the arc of white supremacy in college sport. Founded in 1910 as an institution devoted to training teachers, USM was like most peers in the South segregated. And like many other public spaces in the USA, students at USM were enamored with Indianness, despite (or perhaps because of) the historic removal of embodied Indians to make way for settler society in southern Mississippi. They choose Neka Camon, “a Native American term meaning ‘The New Spirit’,” as the title for the school’s yearbook. Later, the student body opted to formalize the moniker of the sport teams, selecting the Confederates in 1940. A year later, a slight modification, the Southerners, was substituted. Although in light of the better known history of Ole Miss, this is not surprising, the mascot chosen for athletics a decade later is: USM did not name an anonymous rebel or plantation owner; no, it enshrined Natan Bedford Forest, the infamous leader of the Ku Klux Klan, as its mascot. Desegregated in 1965, USM changed its moniker and mascot to the Golden Eagles in 1972. USM is a quintessential institution of higher learning: historically white, segregated, playing Indian, and celebrating the Confederacy in defiance of the civil rights movement.

The jeer from members of the pep squad (or band) also suggests that USM remains typical, and, despite protestations from administrators, that what is chanted at a basketball game says much about the social landscape of Mississippi today and much about all of us today.

The students chanting, “where’s your green card” were not alone this day, with the state’s politicians legislatively demanding the same of Latinos throughout the state of Mississippi. The state’s House of Representatives passed the “Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhood Act,” a copycat bill to Arizona’s anti-immigrant legislation. Among other things, the bill mandates the police verify immigration status for any person arrested

continue reading @ SLAM ONLINE | » Ballers, Political Shot Callers and the ‘Show Your Papers’ Movement.

Why the NCAA Should Pay Student-Athletes and Pay Them Fairly (Part 2 of 2) | Urban Cusp

Why the NCAA Should Pay Student-Athletes and Pay Them Fairly (Part 2 of 2)

By David J. Leonard

UC Columnist

Beyond graduation rates and the compromised quality of the education provided in exchange for athletic participation, it is crucial to think about the overall value of an education and degree in the twenty-first century. Remember, this is the unit of exchange. The national unemployment rate for college graduates is roughly 5%. While significantly lower than those without a college degree (or a high school diploma), the increased unemployment amongst college graduates along with underemployment illustrates the increasingly shrinking value of a scholarship. Worse yet, the 5% unemployment rate includes all college graduates, a figure of limited value when reflecting on compensation levels of current and future student-athletes. In “Jobless College Graduates Struggle Under Ongoing Recession” Amanda Fairbanks and Andrew Lenoir elucidate the profound issues facing today’s college graduates:

College graduates still fare better than their peers with only a high school diploma, but even their job prospects show signs of fatigue. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Current Population Survey, the unemployment rate for college graduates between the ages of 20 to 24-year-olds soared five percentage points in the past month — from 7.1 percent in May to 12.1 percent in June, compared with a three percent jump during the same period last year.

The rates of unemployment, the limited opportunities in career-track jobs, and heightened underemployment are all evident in the number of college graduates moving back home upon graduation. Since the recession began in 2007, there has been a 25% increase in students moving back home after college. As the value of college education has declined, the profits within collegiate sports have grown dramatically, illustrating the growing gap between revenue generated and the level of compensation provided to “student-athletes.” It points to the heightened level of exploitation, so much so that it might be time to renamed the NCAA: NEAA – National Exploitation Athletic Association.

Sports, particularly basketball and football, and its athletes generate millions for the NCAA, its representative schools, coaches, and a number of corporate partners. It is a billion dollar industry. Yet, the wages paid are dubious at best and the value of that compensation is in steady decline. This becomes even more striking as we focus our attention on the disproportionate number of African American student-athletes within revenue sports. The level of exploitation is certainly aggravated by the amounts of money generated by these athletes within these sports. Worse, yet given the continued significance of race, the level of compensation provided to black “student-athletes” is that much worse. The unemployment rate for black college graduates over 25 is almost twice the national average for blacks compared to whites (8.4 versus 4.4)

Michael Luo, with “In Job Hunt, College Degree Can’t Close Racial Gap,” highlights the grim economic prospects facing black graduates.

But there is ample evidence that racial inequities remain when it comes to employment. Black joblessness has long far outstripped that of whites. And strikingly, the disparity for the first 10 months of this year, as the recession has dragged on, has been even more pronounced for those with college degrees, compared with those without. Education, it seems, does not level the playing field — in fact, it appears to have made it more uneven.

Presumably worse for those recent college graduates, the value of scholarship for a black “student-athlete” remains in steady decline even as coaches salaries and television contracts have skyrocketed. Attributable to persistent discrimination, denied access to social networks, and other issues, black college graduates face a bleak future upon the conclusion of school.

Continue reading at Why the NCAA Should Pay Student-Athletes and Pay Them Fairly (Part 2 of 2) | Urban Cusp.

Why the NCAA Should Pay Student-Athletes and Pay Them Fairly (Part 1 of 2) | Urban Cusp

Why the NCAA Should Pay Student-Athletes and Pay Them Fairly (Part 1 of 2)

By David J. Leonard

UC Columnist

The excitement for the upcoming bowl season has just begun. With 35 games beginning December 17th and not ending until January 9th, the bowl season may be the gift that keeps on giving. The national championship game, a rematch between Alabama and LSU, is some 16 days after Christmas, staggering evidence of the extent of the NCAA’s fall economic extravaganza.

This year’s bowl season will also mark another year without reform to collegiate football and college sports in general. It will mark the culmination of yet another collegiate football season where those whose labor, talents, and sacrifices receive the least from the system. Dave Zirin, in “Saluting a Sick System: ‘Sports Illustrated’ Honors Duke Coach Mike Krzyzewski,” brilliantly described the year of college sports in the following way:

In 2011, we all learned just how low the NCAA and its member schools would go to defend their bottom lines. We learned how people in power at Penn State University would put the lives of children at risk, if it meant preserving the lucrative legend of Coach Joe Paterno. We learned what Syracuse University and the surrounding community would be willing to cover up—and how many children they would endanger—to protect their own Hall of Fame Coach Jim Boeheim and the $19 million dollar annual cash-cow of Syracuse hoops. We saw Ohio State football coach Jim Tressel resign after a series of scandals that now look quaint, and we witnessed the University of Miami Athletic Department reel under the weight of the gutter economy of exchange between criminal boosters and the school’s President Donna Shalala.

Amid the scandals, the persistent exploitation, and systemic prioritizing of money over anything else, 2011 has also seen an increased emphasis on reform. “Fifty years ago, there was not any kind of money, and the players got full scholarships. Now they’re still getting full scholarships, and the money is just in the millions,” argued South Carolina Coach Steve Spurrier. “I don’t know how to get it done. Hopefully, there’s a way to get our guys that play football a little piece of the pie… They bring in the money,” Spurrier said. “They’re the performers.” Similarly, Robert Lipsyte highlights the hypocrisy that is the NCAA: “The true madness of March is the millions of dollars — generated by the kids who touch the ball — that goes mostly to the advertising hustlers, television suits, arena operators, concession hawkers, athletic gear manufacturers and retailers, university administrators, coaches and sports media noisemakers. No wonder they don’t want to share any of that money with the players. They’ve locked the doors on their sweat shop.”

Focusing on the financial difficulties facing many college athletes and the gross disparities between the billions generated the pittance awarded to “student-athletes,” much of the discourse has focused on the question of compensation. Invariably opponents and naysayers dismiss the idea of paying “student-athletes,” arguing that it would be impossible to administer and that paying “student-athletes” violates the core mission of higher education. Despite such claims, what they fail to see (or acknowledge) is that “student athletes” are paid: they are paid with the opportunity to showcase their talents (especially within the revenue sport), have a college experience, and receive a college education/degree. As such, the question isn’t or shouldn’t be whether college athletes should be paid but whether the current levels of compensation are just and fair.

Continue reading @ Why the NCAA Should Pay Student-Athletes and Pay Them Fairly (Part 1 of 2) | Urban Cusp.

Dave Zirin: DON’T Give the Miami Hurricanes the Death Penalty: Give it to the NCAA | The Nation


DON’T Give the Miami Hurricanes the Death Penalty: Give it to the NCAA

Dave Zirin

August 18, 2011

Thursday morning’s cover of USA Today blared the two words on everyone’s lips: “the death penalty.” No, this isn’t because Texas Governor Rick Perry – who just loves executin’ innocent and guilty alike – is now running for President. It’s the fate that most people believe awaits the storied football team at the University of Miami. The death penalty means that the NCAA will for an indeterminate time shut down the entire Hurricanes program. It’s a brutal, financially crippling fate that many believe Miami has more than earned, following a Yahoo Sports expose by Charles Robinson which detailed eight years of amateur violations that would make Dennis Rodman blush. A mini-Madoff financial criminal named Nevin Shapiro, currently serving 20 years behind bars, offered prostitutes, payola, jewelry, yacht parties and every possible South Beach excess for the Hurricane players. While corrupting the athletic program, he was simultaneously being feted by school President, former Clinton cabinet member Donna Shalala and Hurricanes athletic director Paul Dee. They even let him on two occasions lead the team out of the tunnel on game day.

This bombshell has the moral majority of sports journalists in full froth, rushing to the barricades to defend amateur sports. We have people like Sporting News columnist David Whitley, to use merely one example, writing, “The only way to make Miami behave is a long timeout. No more football, smoke and parties for a couple of years. Nothing else has a chance of ending the culture of corruption that is The U.” He even calls Miami “the Ben Tre of college football”, writing, “American forces wiped out the village to get rid of the Viet Cong, prompting a timeless explanation from the U.S. commander: ‘It became necessary to destroy the town to save it.’ The only way to save Miami is to destroy it, stripper pole and all.” But like the war in Vietnam, not to mention the actual death penalty, the call for the NCAA to shut down the program is dead wrong. As with capital punishment, eliminating the Hurricanes is an exercise in hypocrisy that does nothing but ensure these scandals will happen again and again.

What this scandal should produce, instead of the isolation and destruction of one program, is a serious reflection on the gutter economy that is college athletics. Players cannot be paid openly and legally so instead we get the amoral wampum of “amateur sports.” Reading the Yahoo Sports story, it’s difficult to not be chilled by the casual misogyny detailed as strippers, “escorts” and hookers were purchased and handed to players like party favors. You wonder why over 80% of NFL players get divorced after retirement. It’s because as teenagers, they are mentored by parasites like Nevin Shapiro who show them that women are the exchange value for their lucrative labor. This kind of gutter economy also has an ugly echo in old slave plantations, as the prized sports specimens in the antebellum South were handed women by the masters in return for their athletic prowess. Or as David Steele wrote earlier this week, ”Of course, America’s tender little feelings will be bruised if this is equated to slavery, or a plantation economy, or a plantation mentality. Fine. Maybe it can live with a metaphor like sharecropping. You do all the work, we take all the profits, we compensate you with the bare necessities of life, and tough break if you don’t like it.”

The metaphor works because once you wave away the smoke and hot air, this is about jock sniffing criminals and corrupted college Presidents taking advantage of primarily poor African Americans from the South, who see everyone getting paid but them. One anonymous University of Miami player told Yahoo Sports about University running back Tyrone Moss, who took $1,000 from Shapiro. “The guy had a kid while he was in college, a little Tyrone Jr.,” the player said. “He comes in poor as [expletive] from Pompano and he’s got a little kid to feed. I could barely feed myself. I can’t imagine having to feed a kid, too. Of course he’s going to take it when someone offers him $1,000. Who wouldn’t in that situation?”

via/continue reading at DON’T Give the Miami Hurricanes the Death Penalty: Give it to the NCAA | The Nation.

David Steele: College athletes used, abused by NCAA system – NCAA Football – Sporting News

College athletes used, abused by NCAA system

David Steele

Are you happy, Nevin Shapiro? You, University of Miami athletic department? You, NCAA? You, College Football Nation?You’ve made Luther Campbell look like a paragon of virtue in comparison.Much of the allegations of impropriety happened while Paul Dee was the AD at Miami.

You all had various obligations and responsibilities to the welfare and progress of the members of the Miami football and basketball teams. All of you abandoned them.

Those young men – actually, boys in some cases, since the actions described in that damning Yahoo! report Tuesday were sometimes initiated with high school recruits – should have been able to use you for guidance to help them move to the next stage of their lives. Instead, you all used them. You bought, sold and traded those human beings, calculated the costs and benefits of your expenditures and raked in the profits.

In short, you all displayed scruples and values that are somewhere beneath those of the guy who wrote and performed “Me So Horny.’’

Uncle Luke did get a previous version of “The U’’ in trouble, for sure, with allegations of bounties and cash payouts. But, as he pointed out Wednesday in his own blog for the Miami New Times, he was not a booster for the school when he did it, didn’t have direct access to the halls of power as he did it. His connection was lower on the ladder. On the bottom rung, as far as the sport is concerned.

Laugh if you want at his claim that he “dedicated part of his life to helping kids in Miami’s inner city neighborhoods get a college education.’’ He sure gave more of a damn about the welfare of those players than Shapiro did. Or, for that matter, anyone else connected to the Miami program. Or anyone else in college football, or anyone else who follows the sport.

Shapiro bared his tainted soul in a series of jailhouse interviews for Yahoo, detailing how he indulged his deepest jock-sniffing desires for nearly a decade by throwing money at Miami players, utterly unconcerned about whether school officials knew. Oh, and how he funded it by robbing investors in a $930 million Ponzi scheme.

via College athletes used, abused by NCAA system – NCAA Football – Sporting News.