Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Basketball Syndrome

Konichiwa and welcome back to the Dead Mike show. This is a small thought. I'm gonna touch on something that I have a lot of personal experience with. I like to call this school of thought “Basketball Syndrome.” To give a little perspective on the term:

Basketball Syndrome is the perception that because a black man is tall or athletic looking or both that he plays one of the major sports, basketball, football sometimes baseball. This perception is most of the time outwardly expressed verbally or through actions. Often times, I've found that those doing the labeling are caucasian. I'm going to issue a few cases in point:

  1. A kid I met in my freshman year of college trying to pick me up for his intramural football team using the statement “Yeah man, we could use a tall black dude to catch passes in the back of the endzone.” (This kid is a good friend of mine now, even though I did 

    not play for his team)
  2. The countless times that I was giving a campus tour and fathers asked me “So what sport did you get a scholarship for?”

  3. Don't prosecute me for this one: The avid attention that I receive from Caucasian females. Not that I mind the attention, as any normal dude would want attention from females, but for that reason initially and not other reasons like me being a cool guy. And For that reason it is expected that I look like the picture giving a degrading picture of miscegenation  to the left right

  4. Watching me play basketball against less than midcore players and assuming that I'm some sort of a god due to their short comings when I'd look like them if I was on their end.

Now one may say that these are all circumstantial and subjective, but I have seen this first hand with more than just myself.

I've been dealing with Basketball Syndrome since middle school as I was 6'2 by 7th grade and I want to put it out there to every one, especially the old white dudes at my gym that because I'm tall, black and athletic, does not mean I played D1 sports/ got a scholarship etc. Granted once you get to know me you'll find out that I love sports and have played both football and basketball, but it should not be the first assumption made. So in essence;

This; that I dawned with pride. Has turned into this.

I'm tired of people thinking that I am a college ball player and not a college power player with enough clout in school to to create lasting legacies that are neither on the court or field. To be honest it objectifies black males and continues to leave them in he light that is less than flattering. Not that black men help themselves THAT often, especially when there are black college athletes giving the rest of us a bad name and for clarification that is not all of them, and that is another article for another time but none the less true.

I've seen this problem plague my brother, some of my best friends and brothers who are finding their success of the off the courts and fields in a ton of different places such as different universities, the gym, at work and in schools.We have to do better for ourselves, but they have to stop thinking about rappers and athletes when they see us. 

So to be real... I graduated college with a B average so you could say I went I w 17 for 20... Had decent GPA's in my major, minor and liberal arts curriculum so you can say I had a tripple double... Chaired a major university committee, so you may as well put one of those C's on my cap and gown but not for captain and I was nice in our school's intramural leagues. Again, I love sports... football being the greatest sport invented... but guess what there's a better invention, it's called a successful happy life and a lot of us are doing that out of the sports arena.

Just a small thought...

Much Love to you and yours,

@ Dead Mike

1 comment:

Maximillian said...

Good stuff Mike. The "basketball syndrome" is another name for blatant stereotyping. Not only do "we have to do better for ourselves" as you say but those who harbor these stereotypes "have to do better" as well. They need to make the effort to learn more about not only black males but all cultures. One way they can learn more about black males is through those of us who are not rappers and athletes and being visible in our communities, changing stereotyping and perception to truth by showing there are several alternatives to what is primarily seen in popular culture.