What’s wrong with this picture?
It is the elephant in the room. There while everyone pretends that it isn’t. It is the bugaboo, the mother of all uncomfortable topics for all kinds of people for all kinds of reasons. No one wants to admit it, but the evidence is there for all to see.

What is wrong with the black athlete?

Anyone who follows sports or the news can bear witness to it. Daily, monthly, yearly; prominent athletes, prominent black athletes, cannot seem to stay on the straight and narrow. The list is extensive, expansive and far from distinguished. High school, college, professionals the black athletes who have run afoul of the law covers like a blanket both in the scope of the crimes to the names involved. Michael Vick, Kobe Bryant, Rae Carruth, Jayson Williams, OJ Simpson, Richie Parker, Maurice Clarett, Marion Jones and now Lawrence Taylor (again) the list is long and ignominious.

Let me say this first of all-please don’t blame it all on their upbringing. Many athletes come from underprivileged homes, single parent households and terrible surroundings and rise above the circumstances of their youth while toeing the lines required by the society in which we live. This is usually a testament to both their iron will and the iron will of those around them-mothers, family, friends, teachers, coaches and occasionally, only occasionally, fathers. It’s not where you begin the journey, but where you take it and where you end up.

So if not the upbringing, what is it then? In the nature versus nurture argument, its much easier to blame nurture, and ignore the impact of nature.
Are black athletes (and obviously by extension, black men) predisposed to the type of violence we’ve heard described routinely? Are these athletes apathetic to the social mores that dictate routinely killing dogs is inhumane? Is that really what its about, and we as a society are too polite to face it?

It’s the media’s fault, right? They want to make the brothers look bad. They want it instill/reinforce the image of the black man as just some type of Neanderthal prone to violence and incapable of following the rule of law. Keeping the black man down.

A friend of mine who is a NYPD officer once said to me when we were having a discussion about crooked cops: “If you were a thief, you were a thief before you put on the uniform. The uniform didn’t make you a thief” There’s a lot of truth in that, I think, and the same probably applies to the athletes who commit crimes. If you were a drug abuser/dealer, a woman beater, habitual drunk driver, dog fighting ringleader or murderer, you were most likely predisposed, somwhere along the line, to that mentality and pattern of behavior anyway.

That being said, the constant reports of young, famous, financially well off black men running afoul of the law leaves one puzzled at the disproportionate disparity of their criminal activity to white or Hispanic athletes.

I think a lot of it has to do with the kill or be killed environment a lot of athletes were raised in, fawning attention from adults looking for their own ticket out of the same surroundings, coupled with an inability to separate trustworthy people from those just hanging around for a handout.

It’s a vicious circle, and while the media does look at these athletes as ‘disposable heroes’ to be built up and torn down, they also aren’t forcing anyone to get behind the wheel after drinking too much. Or to beat your wife. Unfortunately a lot of young black men are learning too late in life that the rules of society do apply to them, years after being relentlessly barraged with the type of attention that make them think these rules don’t. But that’s just my opinion.

The next time you see an athlete in handcuffs being hauled off to jail, you tell me what you think the reasons are. It’ll probably be something I have heard before though.