By Gary Norris Gray- BASN Staff Reporter (first presented on January 14, 2017
OAKLAND, CA.-Most of the rules enforced by the professional leagues were 80% geared for the restriction, reduction, or elimination of the African American players. This racist attitude is stifling the promotion of great African American talent on the field, court, diamond, and ice.
Hockey is the one major sport that Black participation has doubled in the past 50 years, but they are still required by some NHL officials to play the white way. There are 40 Black players currently in the N.H.L. in 2016 a great accomplishment and the men of BLACK ICE would be proud. New Black stars enter the league with each new year, making the game faster.
During America’s Great Depression, Herb Carnegie broke the color barrier of professional hockey. It is still a struggle for Blacks to put on any hockey uniform of the National Hockey League. The Winnipeg Jets currently lead the way with four Black players. The Edmonton Oilers had five players on the ice in one year. A record that still stands today.
In 1960 Willie O’Ree put on a Boston Bruin jersey to become the first Black player in the modern era. He also became the first disabled hockey player. Mr. O’Ree was legally blind in one eye and hid it from the Bruin organization. O’Ree is now the ambassador for the NHL in inner cities to attract minority youth to the game.
This is the only sport that incorporated Black input to improve and change the game. Black Canadians and First Nation/Native Americans played this game hard and fast unlike their white counterparts. The NHL had rules where the defensive players could not skate pass the red line. This limited the scoring chances and slowed the game. Black Canadians and First Nation-Canadians did away with this rule allowing the whole team to enter the attacking zone creating havoc for the goalie. This created scoring chances. The NHL would eventually adopt this rule.
The league improve on this law by eliminating the two line pass from the blue lines in the 1990′s.
Many older white officials of the league still have problems with Black hockey players. They want these bigger, faster, and stronger brothers to play THE WHITE WAY, whatever that is.
Sports magazines continue the trend of blasting Black athletes with their yearly Most Disliked Athletes edition with the following Black athletes leading the list Wayne Simmonds– Philadelphia Flyers, Dustin Byfuglien– Winnipeg Jets, P.K. Subban-Nashville Predators, and Joel Ward San Jose Sharks,-Hockey, Kris Humphries-Brooklyn Nets, Blake Griffin-Los Angeles Clippers, LeBron James-Miami Heat-Cleveland Cavaliers and Kobe Bryant- Los Angeles Lakers- Basketball, Floyd Mayweather-Boxing, Tiger Woods-Golf, Terrell Owens-Multiple teams, Michael Vick-Atlanta Falcons-Philadelphia Eagles, Plaxico Burress-New York Football Giants, Ndamukong Suh-Detroit Lions-Miami Dolphins, Cam Newton-Carolina Panthers, and Dez Bryant-Dallas Cowboys-Football.
There are very few Caucasians players on these lists Bryce Harper-Washington Nationals -Baseball, Tom Brady-New England Patriots-Football, Brad Marchand-Boston Bruins-Hockey. Forbes Magazine only had one white athlete on their list and that was hot head Kurt Bush-Race car driver.
Sports fans all over the country cheer for these Black stars night after night. If they win its o.k. if they lose they will be run out of town. How does this work?
JUST WIN BABY- This racist attitude permeates the sports world with ESPN, The Sports Leader leading the way. As long as these young Black athletes win for their owner, make money for the owner, win for their city, their country, and fans, its o.k., but if they speak out, become political, or start losing games they are shipped out the door. African Americans have to be supermen on the ice, field, diamond, or court while white players can be average.
Example, college football star Tim Tebow, the University of Florida quarterback played at Gainesville, Fla. with fanfare. Black quarterback Cam Newton would drive Florida to the 25 yard line and the coach would substitute Tebow to finish the Gator drive. Tebow would get the media attention while Newton would be forgotten. The question remained could Tebow play football? Does that ring a bell? Tebow tried his hand at the NFL; it did not work because he lacked the throwing touch to throw long passes.
So Mr. Tebow turned to baseball. This man has not played a single inning of baseball in 15-20 years yet his number 15 baseball jersey became the number one seller in the United States this summer. When the Cleveland Browns drafted quarterback Johnny Manziel, his number two jersey became the number one seller in America in 2015, The only trouble was the Texas A& M Aggie player had not played a down of football in the National Football League.
At the same time Americans burned Black basketball star LeBron James jerseys in two cities-Miami and Cleveland, burned Kevin Durant jerseys in Oklahoma City, and American Patriots carrying Confederate Flags burned San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick jerseys all over the country. This past summer Miami Heat fans repeated their actions burning their only superstar guard Dwayne Wade jersey. Question, when was the last time sports fans burned a white players jersey, ANSWER – NEVER. That is America’s showing its underwear of racism AGAIN.
The GREATEST of all times Muhammad Ali- was stripped of his World Championship Boxing title in 1967-68 because he refused to defend his country on religious grounds, which was within his rights to do so. America lost its collective minds. How could this young Black man defy the American government? This was the first attack on Islam and another attack on Black males. Ali was the spokesmen for many African American men and he had to be silenced. It backfired because Ali became a world hero speaking out on the racial injustice around the world.
Mahumoud Abdul Rauf-Chris Johnson of the Denver Nuggets was Kaepernick before there was a Colin Kaepernick. Raul converted to the Islamic Faith in 1996 and refused to stand for the Star Spangled Banner because he felt the song disrespected Black people. The Nuggets released him that same year. Rauf was a good player that came off the bench and scored points. It did not matter Rauf had to go, disrespecting the United States of America by not standing for our national song.
Colin Kaepernick is the most recent victim of America’s scorn as we return to 1968 faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive. Mr. Kaepernick, quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers wanted to bring forth issues that African Americans deal with on a daily basis by kneeling during the National Anthem. He got attention and he also received scorn from white Middle America.
Tommie Smith and John Carlos- These men struck a blow for Civil Rights in the 1968 Summer Games in Mexico City with fist raised on the winner’s podium. The Black gloves and bare feet were symbols of Black American oppression and poverty and made the world notice. America took vengeance again by ignoring these two champions for 35 years. Making both of them persona non-gratis for years. This was the reward for winning the gold and bronze medals for the United States.
Professional teams were now getting involved in the Civil Rights Movement. The Phoenix Suns fought for the MLK holiday in their home state of Arizona. This team also made a statement against their states strong anti-immigration bill by wearing Los Suns uniforms on the Cinco de Mayo, a Mexican National holiday. The Golden State Warriors, Los Angeles Lakers, Dallas Mavericks, Chicago Bulls, New York Knicks, and Portland Trailblazers joined them with their Latin uniforms.
It might be time for the Black athletes to evaluate their position in the sports world and how their influences can change the United States. Can Black Athletes invoke that change for America, without political, social, or economic repercussion? We shall see in the coming years. The Los Angeles Clippers lost that opportunity three years ago in the NBA playoffs by not making a stronger statement on racism in their organization. Many African American basketball fans have lost respect for the “other,” team at Staples Center.
The plight of the African America athlete, to play the game they love or to make that political, social, and economic statement to make the United States a better country, a better place to live.
Gary Norris Gray – Writer, Author, Historian. Gibbs Magazine-Oakland, California and New England Informer- Boston Mass. THE GRAYLINE:- The Analects of A Black Disabled Man, The Gray Leopard Cove, Soul Tree Radio In The Raw, and The Batchelor Pad Network, Disabled Community Activist. Email at firstname.lastname@example.org