This afternoon I sat down at my computer to write a blog. I had it titled “Being Johnny Football: #ItsComplicated,” and the content outlined in my head. In the hopes of finding a few articles to cite in my blog, I pulled up twitter only to find a Richard Roeper retweet of a Chicago Sun-Times article about Chicago Bulls guard Derrick Rose.
The tweet read, “Derrick Rose on Chicago violence: ‘it all starts with poverty.’”
I thought, wait a minute… a superstar athlete is publicly discussing a pertinent social issue and offering meaningful insight? This, I have to see.
Blocked from reading the article because I’m not a Sun-Times subscriber, I did a quick Google search and was surprised to see a CNN interview in which Rose made these comments was five days old, yet this was the first I had heard of it.
Check out the first few sentences of the CNN article:
"NBA star Derrick Rose has spoken out about gun crime in his hometown of Chicago and identified poverty as its root cause.
"The Chicago police department recorded 506 murders in 2012 — with estimates that about 80 percent were gang related, while there have been 185 murders on record up until July 3rd this year.
“‘It all starts out from poverty,’ Rose, who grew up in the city’s impoverished South Side district of Englewood, told CNN.”
Perhaps the article and video clips from the interview got lost in the ocean of George Zimmerman coverage. But the “not guilty” verdict quickly popped race, gun laws and violence back up to the surface, so much so that crime in Chicago was often included in the Zimmerman conversation.
Instead of seeing or hearing anything whatsoever about Rose’s comments in the last five days, we’ve been saturated with Dwight Howard’s press conference in Houston, whisperings of Major League Baseball potentially punishing Alex Rodriguez for alleged PED use, a magazine cover photo and most egregiously, the life and times of 20-year-old Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback, Johnny Manziel.
Chicago, we’ll raise your 506 murdered folk with this 558-word article dissecting and grading Manziel’s Wednesday press conference at SEC Media Day. The two topics certainly seem congruent in terms of real life impact and importance right?
It would be simplistic and naive not to consider the fact that the college football machine is just a tad more profitable than murder victims in urban Chicago, which likely contributes to the disparity in media coverage. But one would think that attaching the famous face of Rose to this issue might buy it more appeal.
After all, Google search “Derrick Rose crying” and you’ll get countless hits from major news outlets to personal blogs commenting on the video of Rose becoming emotional during a press conference at which he launched his new Adidas shoe.
Google search “Derrick Rose chicago gun violence” and this is all that comes up:
In the paparazzi/Internet age of celebrities lacking any inkling of privacy and straying from the “role model” tag, it’s surprising that we are ignoring one of the few megastars who embraces it.
Rose told CNN, “I’m young, but for some reason, people tend to listen to me, especially the younger kids.
"Just knowing where I grew up and what I had to go through to get where I’m at today. Being a role model, of course, that’s what I try to do.
"I try to stay positive, just really trying to bring hope to my city, where of course, we’re going through so much stuff with crime."
Tiger Woods and Michael Jordan (among other globally recognized athletes) have often been criticized for refusing to publicly take a stand on social/political issues, yet when a high profile athlete finally steps up to the plate, we turn a blind eye. Heck, Jordan’s father was shot to death, and I couldn’t find any trace of the international icon discussing gun violence in South Carolina, Chicago or elsewhere.
Fans, reporters and pundits alike were quick to speculate about Rose’s return from a knee injury (understandably so in many cases), blanketing social media and traditional news platforms with coverage over the past year.
Rose’s mental state was picked apart on national television time after time last season, yet I haven’t seen his recent interview mentioned on cable sports networks, nor any discussion a few months ago of Rose’s offer to cover funeral costs for a 6-month-old girl shot and killed in Chicago.
When asked what he can do as an individual to help combat gun violence in his native Chicago, Rose told CNN, “I’m just trying to bring that positive energy back, bring that excitement back, so that we can get it back on the right track.”
The media so often judges the priorities of others, questioning why those who seem to have it all can’t stay on the right track. Isn’t it only fair that we ask the same of ourselves?
For the first time during his career a public figure, Lance Armstrong is set to let some amount of truth spill from his lips into the ears of a national television audience, thanks to an interview conducted by Oprah Winfrey.
Instead of focusing on the first public admission of doping from one of the supreme narcissists the sports world as ever seen, many have mysteriously unleashed their insults and skepticism on Oprah, in lieu of Armstrong.
Why are folks assuming this interview reeks of neglect and naivety - on Oprah’s part - without having seen it? Sure, the Marion Jones interview wasn’t as vicious as many had hoped, but Oprah is a smart woman. I would think she learned from that experience.
In fairness, did you watch the 30 for 30 about Marion Jones? In an entire documentary about her journey from rags to riches to federal prison, Jones, never explicitly explained how she cheated. She apologized for her mistakes and lies, but never said, “This is what I did. This is when I did it.”
Moving on to the next argument… “Oprah isn’t qualified.” Umm, are you KIDDING ME?
Oprah Winfrey began her career as a local news reporter. Do you know what a news reporter’s job is? It’s to become an expert on something new every single day. You learn, listen, read and gather enough information to convince the audience that you are a credible source on the topic and hopefully, you pull it off and actually enlighten a person or two along the way.
Of the +1000 people employed as on-air personalities and journalists by ESPN, what percentage do you think knows anything substantial about the sport of cycling? I’m guessing no more than two percent.
As a young reporter in Pocatello, Idaho, I covered auto racing, windmill manufacturing, the rodeo, nuclear engineering at the Idaho National Laboratory, a Monster Truck show for crying out loud… do you think I knew ANYTHING about any of those things? Nope! But I learned. That’s our job as reporters.
Oprah Winfrey has one of the brightest and most creative staffs television. If you think a person who has traveled the world, worked as a reporter and interviewer for more than three decades, and who -as an overweight, African-American woman in the South- managed to create a global brand all about HERSELF won’t have the tools and resources to successfully interview Lance Armstrong, well, clearly you haven’t given the situation much thought.
But then we come to this argument. “Armstrong is using Oprah. He’s not going to a more credible institution or to a journalist who covered him throughout because he knows she’ll be easier on him.”
If someone picked me apart and exposed my lies over the years, I wouldn’t exactly be inclined to sit down with that person either. The odds of Armstrong not holding a grudge are none to none.
Armstrong may be coming clean to a degree, but he’s surely doing it for self-serving reasons. Which outcome would you prefer… an in-depth interview that shows multiple sides of this man, with the possibility of light moments and a confession of some sort, even if it’s without all the intricate details of doping? OR would you rather have no on-camera interview at all, and instead, have a PR puppet write a short statement on Armstrong’s behalf admitting to doping?
I’ve read columns and tweets from journalists who appear to be personally offended by Oprah landing this sit-down, as though she “stole” the interview from them, or specific media colleagues. Newsflash: You were never in the running for this gig, and neither was the “more deserving” person you suggested was screwed out of the interview. It was either Oprah or Nobody as far as Armstrong’s team was concerned.
Most of what we’ve seen from Armstrong in his career has been lies, cheating, and truckload after truckload of BS. I would expect nothing less than manipulation and ingenuous, self-serving behavior from Armstrong, regardless of the person asking him questions. That said, I’ll give the guy a chance to prove me wrong.
And perhaps Oprah is actually the one person who gives Lance the best shot at letting what little speck of truth and humility still exist in that hollow soul to shine through to the public. That’s what Oprah is about. She has the ability to connect with people on a human level in such a way that they feel safe in answering even the most judgmental questions.
Speaking of judgment, let’s do the fair thing for Oprah by reserving it for after we’ve seen the interview. And better yet, let’s keep the heat on Lance Armstrong, the actual antagonist who seems to have lucked out into losing the spotlight to the one name bigger than his.
Looking for a sports reporter? I think I know of one…
Wheelchair-bound Football Player Lives His Dream, Scores Touchdown
Thank goodness for positive stories like this that help neutralize all the negative news out there.
Trent Glaze’s life has not been easy for the last 10 years in which muscular dystrophy has forced him to live in a motorized wheelchair.
Glaze, a senior at Fairfield Union High School in Ohio joined the football team as a sophomore taking on somewhat of a coach/manager role. Coach Tom McCurdy said Glaze helps analyze film, gives advice and told the Lancaster Eagle Gazette, “He’s a good kid, and he deserves it, and I love him dearly.”
::sorry, there’s something in my eyes…. sniffle…sniffle…::
Check out the video above, care of ABC News, as Glaze, a team captain and homecoming king took the field for the first time.
After time had officially expired in the game, both teams took the field for one final play. With the crowd chanting his name, Glaze rolled onto the field, took the handoff and scored a touchdown. My favorite part is when the members of the opposing team go to the end zone and celebrate the accomplishment with Glaze and his team.
This story defines what playing sports is really about. It’s not about lockouts, greed, complaining or monstrous egos. Playing sports is about fun, talent, competition, compassion and heart.
Glaze hopes to become a coach one day where he will hopefully spread the good gospel of sports.