Open Mic: The Media Should Stop Calling NBA Players Thugs

Jeffrey EngmannCorrespondent IJune 8, 2008

They are basketball players. They may make mistakes but we return the favor by consistently making them into something they are not. They entertain us for two
 and a half hours by playing a playground past time in an unprecedented manner.

We marvel at their ability to be crafty with the ball and wish for one second
 that we could be blessed with both their skills and athleticism.  Mike is not the only one we would like to be like. Kids and adults both try to emulate their favorite hoopsters, whether it’s adopting their style of play or buying their gear to officially play in style.

Yet, basketball is the only game where the athletes are not playfully chastised. Baseball brawls and hockey fights are constantly looked at as spectacles, yet one fight in Madison Square Garden can turn one of the NBA’s young superstars into a thug.

And I’ve heard it all. People believe that basketball players are too egotistical and they should merely accept the good with the bad and have thick skin.

But I venture to say that is the design on most of these ball players’ skins, which makes the media’s patience with them wear so thin.

Jason Whitlock’s article stated that America simply does not want to see tattoos. However, the media who cover these athletes daily are forced to. And as a result there has been this consistent trend that appears more permanent and pertinent than the ink jobs they receive.

Basketball players who don’t fit the pretty boy American image are constantly called thugs. But I would like to ask the media to stop calling degrading them thugs. Stop using run ins with the law as avenues to fulfull some unhealthy vendetta against the cornrolled and tattooed black male/ Why can’t they simply be classified as players who made a mistake, like J. J Redick when he got arrested for drunk driving before he was drafted?

There was no media circus, and more importantly there was no termination of his character. Why can’t the media just leave the fourth grade name calling alone like how they did for players like Jason Kidd and Kobe Bryant? Why do corn rolls and tattoos warrant further scrutinization?

I fear stereotypes more than the people that embody them. These misguided prejudices have the ability to change people and encrypt minds. Philanthropic work and community service deeds can’t eliminate these stereotypes, as they have become engrained in the minds of people.

For example, a DUI is now being provided as evidence that Carmelo Anthony is a thug. And since Allen Iverson entered the league sporting the cornrolls and a Bulldog tattoo, people have unfairly criticized him as being a thug.

It’s harmful to a younger generation to cast those they idolize as negative people. Many come from tough backgrounds, and instead of making their stories ones filled with pereservation and determination, the media has chosen to slap on stereotypes.

Another example is Kenyon Martin. He picked up the thug tag when he was giving out hard fouls as a member of the New Jersey Nets. They were definitely uncalled for, but somewhere along the line those hard fouls were once just considered dirty plays. Now, they have made a player be perceived as a thug.

Somewhere along that path, the media felt justified in using stereotypes to describe players. What’s even scarier is that fans of the game followed in their footsteps.

I would critique some articles that I've found online, like "Top 5 Most Thug Like NBA teams" or "The New Thugs of the NBA: The Wizards", but I don't want to further perpetuate a stupid stereotype.


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