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11/8/12

Do We Give White Football Players Enough Credit for Being Exciting?

We all know how skewed scouting reports can be based on race — and lots of players have pointed out that it’s not just on-air experts who follow a pattern when talking about athletes but that it’s actually often seen in team reports as well. I’ve always looked at it from the perspective that black players aren’t given enough credit for being intelligent…that there’s over-emphasis on their athletic ability and that there’s a pattern when it comes to experts looking for words to describe those players without saying “intelligent” or “smart” (e.g. clever).

I was watching “The Real Rob Report,” which I do each week FAITHFULLY, a series hosted by Michael Robinson of the Seattle Seahawks. In the series, he goes around taping his teammates, even those like super star Marshawn Lynch who hilariously struggles to be left alone every week, as he asks them various questions.

Judging by the series, the Seahawks locker room looks like a really fun place to visit.  There are so many interesting personalties on the team.  If you watch the series you get to see rookie QB Russell Wilson do his Pete Carroll impression, top CB Richard Sherman argue the point that college players SHOULD be paid, OL Jon Moffitt do Jon Moffitty type things, and various other great moments like watching all the Ques on the team hop.

Back to the real point of this post which is how hearing Safety Chris Maragos talk about how white players are described actually changed my perspective on this topic a little bit. Rob asks Maragos if saying a white player is a “hustle player” is like saying he’s athletic. And Maragos says no, it means that he works hard which is the only way they can stay in the league (laughter ensues). Maragos then goes on to do an impression of a football analyst or fan talking about a white players vs. talking about the black player. When he gets to the impression regarding the black player his voice goes up in excitement. And you can tell he’d rather be described that way than the other way which is more boring and technical.

It got me thinking about white basketball players or white receivers like Green Bay’s Jordy Nelson or the Rams’ Danny Amendola . It’s clear that praise of white players errs toward the technical and mental side and less on the thrilling end. And that’s a shame cause it goes without saying that white players can easily dominate highlight reels just like black players (see: Brent Celek’s acrobatic leap over Ed Reed). It’s also funny that folks tend to easily talk about white athletes in exciting terms in the sports whites dominate (cycling, tennis, swimming etc.) but it doesn’t translate much into basketball and football.

Anyway, I just thought it was worth mentioning. I haven’t fully gathered my thoughts on it yet. You can see Maragos explain it all below, it starts at the 10:02 mark when Rob decides to “get a shot of the white people.” LOL If you watch from the beginning you can see how far Lynch goes to avoid the camera–and why it doesn’t work.

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