Friday, April 5, 2013

Class Notes 4/1 - Kevin Ware, Rick Ross

I came home from my Easter Sunday brunch all set to watch what was shaping up to be a great game between Louisville and Duke to see who would travel to Hotlanta for the Final Four.  When Greg Gumbel started going over the first half highlights and made mention of the horrific injury suffered by Kevin Ware, I immediately hopped on social media to see what he was talking about because I knew somebody would post the footage.  Sure enough I got to see the most horrific in-game injury I have ever seen.  It trumped McGahee, Theismann, and Lattimore and has started a discussion, with notable input from Chris Rock about how NCAA players are "slaves" because when something like this happens, they have no recourse, and universities continue to stack millions on the backs of unpaid "employees".  If you want numbers, check out Chris Hayes' article.  I am firmly in the camp that college athletes in revenue generating sports need to have some process afforded them where they are able to access some of the profits that they help generate for their universities and other licensees.  When I was in school in the late 90s, the Fab Five was a unit all to themselves that far outpaced the brand recognition of the University of Michigan.  They probably meant as much to Nike marketing at that time as Jordan, Barkley, and Robinson, and they did it for FREE

All that said, I think the greater lesson is that this is not new.  Athletes and their families make a choice about how they want to develop with their eyes wide open.  The slavery metaphor is weak because of these choices, and it's not as if the education that student-athletes are offered is worth nothing.  Blue-chippers take a calculated gamble to go and play for these schools, with the hope that they get enough exposure that they can "cash in" with a pro contract which in effect launches them into being their own brand.  It is a deal with the devil, but is not chattel slavery, and the lesson is that the support networks of the high profile athletes need to step their game up and really figure out what is the best gamble to take.  As an educator, born to educators, it frustrates me that so little weight is given to the idea of actually leveraging atheletic talent to eventually gain a degree which is a valuable piece of social capital in our economy.  If college just simply isn't your deal, then take the gamble that Brandon Jennings and Jeremy Tyler did and go be a professional overseas until you can make it in to the League.  Kevin Ware will be taken care of because of the high-profile nature of his injury, and he will have an opportunity to potentially come back to the court and finish his degree, which he will need if he does not show enough skill to potentially be drafted.  His story should be yet another cautionary tale of just how tenuous it is to put all your future hopes and dreams in the athletic basket.  There are smarter ways to make that gamble so you can come out a winner in the end.  This is certainly the message I'll be teaching mine as they grow and continue to be interested in sports.

Speaking of things I'll be teaching my sons, it's been interesting to watch the coverage and fallout around Rick Ross' lyrics in the song U.O.E.N.O  where he rhymes about slipping "Molly" in a girls drink and then taking her home and "enjoying that".  Not a good look for the "BOSS" as rape culture and its perpetuation is hot on people's minds in the aftermath of the Steubenville, OH case among others.  What's interesting is that this isn't even the most egregious example of suggested rape in hip-hop, yet this is the one that gets everybody up in arms?  What person who grew up listening to BBD as I did doesn't remember this lyric:

"Backstage, under age, Adolescent, how ya doin'?
“Fine,” she replied,
I sighed“I like to do the wild thing”
Action took place
Kinda wet, don't forget
The J, the I, the M, the M, the Y, y'all I need a body bag

What keeps a young man from turning this lyric into reality?  Or a young girl internalizing this as normal behavior? Or understanding that it's not a nonfiction account in the first place?  Home training, and it's my job to make sure my boys know the difference between what's made up to be consumed as "entertainment" and what's real.  So if we're going to be "outraged" by Rick Ross, let's be outraged by the whole persona that he presents of being a gangsta/pimp, and what it could mean for our children, not just one lyric.  Or, we take the time to have conversations with our kids about what they're hearing so that they can be knowledgable consumers.  I think its more productive to frame how we have those conversations with impressionable minds who listen to and are fans of Rick Ross than to have "selective outrage" over lyrics that suggest destructive behavior.

No comments:

Post a Comment