Sports Media Exhibit Double Standard

Vincent Thomas

Did you think it would have gone down any different? I know Ididn’t, because the public never scorns White players the way theydo Black athletes — even if their actions are basically thesame.

A recent example…

Bob Sura had the opportunity to get his thirdtriple-double in a row. Problem was the game-clock was quicklyapproaching zero and he only had nine rebounds. So to get ten, hepurposely missed a shot and grabbed the ball after it caromed offthe rim. He was in the record books.

Not so fast Bobby.

The NBA league office rescinded histriple-double because of his rebound…well, it actually wasn’t arebound. According to the league handbook, “a field goalattempt is a player’s attempt to shoot the ball into the basket fora field goal.”

Since Sura had no intention of making the shothe was stuck looking stupid.

Late last season, Ricky Davis was one reboundaway from his the first triple-double of his career and tried thesame idiotic tactic to grab a board. Except, Poor Rick shot theball at his own basket. For the next day, no for the nextweek…as a matter of fact, ever since this incident, Davis hasheard nothing but ridicule, censure and consternation. That play,supposedly typified everything that was wrong with him. It justwasn’t his cornrows, tattoos and Black skin; it was his lack ofgamesmanship and court decorum. He was a bad seed — a buffoon,critics said.

One may have expected the same reaction forBob Sura’s slip-up. But then again, we all knew that was not goingto happen. There was no chance the resulting public reaction wouldbe of similar vein and commensurate intensity as what Davis, orGangsta Rick as I like to call him, experienced.

The day after his incident, Davis was eithershown posturing or scowling in his mug shots. Sura, on the otherhand, was pictured in The Washington Post with a smile. Moststories that ran on the Sura incident spoke of how his teammateswere encouraging him to get the triple-double by any means, and howhe knew it was a joke. There was an evident air of levity in mostof the newspaper stories and Sura was depicted as an innocent ballplayer excited about an achievement and meaning no harm.

Even columnists, who called themselves takingSura to task, only mentioned the incident in a couple of sentencesand moved on. Some even prefaced their thoughts with comments like,”I got on Davis for what he did and I’m going to get on Sura”, asif they were doing so in an obligatory fashion — you know, to befair to Ricky, but not because they really have a problem withSura’s actions.

We do live in the Same Age where nothingchanges. It is almost a rule of thumb that the middle-to-old ageCaucasian press with no age, ethnic, or cultural connection totoday’s athletes are itching to bash them at every opportunity. Andalthough I love his game and his swagger, a guy like Gangsta Rick,sometimes a knucklehead and somewhat of a malcontent, is the typeof Black athlete they love to assail.

Larry Bird was a trash-talking, foul mouthed,moody rube. But the sports media loved him and ate his bravado uplike it was their first meal in ten days. They also loved JohnMcEnroe, for the most part, and now Jeremy Shockey is playing therole of feisty White athlete with an edge.

But Black athletes are on much shorterleashes. From Terrell Owens, to Randy Moss to Allen Iverson toBarry Bonds — sports writers can’t stand them. Gangsta Rick is oneof them now.

The fact is, Davis was wrong and if the sportsmedia wanted to bash him – go ahead. But everyone knew it justwasn’t about Davis’ actions, it was about him and his attitude, anattitude that many find hard to stomach when it is housed in Blackskin.

Sura, for what it’s worth, is not your”typical” White basketball player that the media loves. He went toFlorida State, not Duke. His game is rather “ghetto,” not”barn-yard.” And he carries himself cooler than the “average” Whiteboy — almost as smooth as a brother. And he is not a “Great WhiteHope;” in fact he’s five minutes of playing time away from being abench warmer. At best he’s a role player, but more of a journeyman– teams like to throw him into trade packages to spice up the dealfor the other team. As such, we don’t have to endure endlesstrumpeting of his skills or media coddling and glossing to keep hisimage and reputation in tact. But he is still White, whichapparently gets him special allowances from the media.

White athletes get winks for what Blackathletes will get the evil eye.