The mini-media war that surfaced recently between Jason Whitlock and Charlamagne Tha God highlight an even bigger issue.
Normally, media wars, especially those that exist between television and radio personalities, aren’t interesting enough to report on. When hostility exists between the father of one of the NBA‘s most talented prospects, one of the most powerful voices on this country’s most popular hip hop morning shows and what many consider to be an over-hyped sports journalist, that theory can change.
Personally, I couldn’t take it anymore.
A little background:
Recently, LaVar Ball, who’s made a name for himself with what many believe to be an over-the-top support of his son Lonzo Ball, appeared on Fox Sports‘ The Herd with Colin Cowherd. An exchange occurred between he and the show’s co-host Kristine Leahy. The result was an exorbitant amount of response. Some of which went so far as to call Mr. Ball a bully and to claim Leahy as a victim.
LaVar Ball is 6’6 and unafraid to give his opinion whenever given a chance. That, alone, is enough to scare a great portion of this country, but whether you agree with his take on things or not, he is interesting and entertaining. He represents a particular mindset that exists within many African-American males who share similar backgrounds. You don’t get to attack us as on your platform without believing we’ll defend ourselves when we’re given a platform of our own.
The so-called “threat” made to Leahy is reminiscent of what as said about Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman when he approached Tom Brady following a Patriots loss in Seattle. Sherman was described as ignorant and a thug. This is a man who graduated from Stanford University by the way. Brady, who I love, is allowed to verbally berate opposing players on the field of battle. That’s seen as being competitive. When Sherman does it, it’s considered ignorance and threatening.
When Leahy attacks everything about Ball including his parenting skills (at one point, she stated his children are afraid of him), it’s considered great journalism. When Ball refuses to acknowledge Leahy or look her in the eye (she’s seated behind guests on the show by the way), he’s considered disrespectful. Since the interview, she appeared on Fox Sports’ Speak For Yourself where she was seated with Jason Whitlock, Eric Davis and Chris Broussard (the latter being the only one present worth listening to). Leahy was coddled, consoled and pampered as you’d probably expect. I waited to hear one of these black men argue on Ball’s behalf. None of them did.
Someone finally steps up on Ball’s behalf:
In fact, no one of note defended Ball until Charlemagne Tha God did so on Power 105.1‘s The Breakfast Club. Whether you’re a fan of Charlemagne’s or not, this one is worth a listen.
Moments like the exchange that occurred between Leahy and ball reveal a problem that exists in our society and in journalism. We’re so afraid, sometimes, of losing our position that we won’t defend what’s accurate. We’ll run when the race card is played. We’ll dance around the issues because we don’t want to lose the platform that’s been given to us. When former ESPN analyst and trailblazer Stuart Scott passed, we lost something that was much more than an African-American voice that reported on sports. We lost one of the only voices that wasn’t afraid to be authentic and be exactly who he was.
Well, there’s Stephen A. Smith, but some would even argue that the jury’s out on him. We’ll let you be the judge.
Exposure Magazine Sports Editor
Geoffrey Knox is the creator and the owner of The Thunderstorm Hip Hop Sports & Entertainment Network, co-editor for Inside The Iggles and a contributor for Saturday Blitz. Bookmark Thunderstorm Media on BlogtalkRadio.com, iTunes, TuneIn and Stitcher. Follow him on Twitter @GQ_4_Eva, @stormradio66 @stormsports66 & @insideiggles.