Tuesday, March 26, 2013

The Marshall Henderson Paradox

With the NCAA tourney the country is exposed to all sorts of characters and human interest pieces. Throughout all these I have noticed and I know I’m not the only one who has noticed this but there seems to be quite the let’s call it vexing portrayal of the polarizing guard from Ole Miss, one Marshall Henderson. Now allow me to say this, I find the kid entertaining, and this is by no means a condemnation of him, this is a condemnation of the narrative that most people choose to believe or the media chooses to report.

My problem with the Marshall Henderson paradox we’ll call it, is who we vilify. In 2010, a very talented player came along. Kid had no legal problems and really the only thing people could say was it looked like he had a bad attitude.
What a thug.
He was Demarcus Cousins.

In 2012, a very talented guard who was arrested in high school for trying to buy $800 worth of drugs with counterfeit money, he failed a subsequent drug test, failed to do community service and did jail time.

He is Marshall Henderson.

Now guess who is described as a problem child and who is described as playing with a reckless abandon and passion. And this isn’t anything new. The media and fans pick players that they love all the time and choose to ignore what the facts are. Typically the guy who gets the benefit of the doubt is of Caucasian descent. Or at least the skin tone is on the lighter side. Hell look at how Allen Iverson was forever labeled a thug because he got in a fight in high school. Wouldn’t the thug behavior be flipping off the crowd and trying to buy $800 worth of weed with fake cash?

It’s not just basketball. Look in the NFL. Tim Tebow is being put on every squad by armchair general managers and the kid couldn’t complete a pass regularly. Vince Young has had to apologize to every person he ever met in the NFL and have a pro day at the University of Texas just in the hopes of getting a shot at a backup quarterback spot. The perception of players is not based on their performance on the field. And there is where the problem lies.

This is all however just a part of a bigger picture that unfortunately won’t change anytime soon I fear. If you’re a white athlete who by all accounts is a decent person you’re everything that someone should want to be (See: Warner, Kurt; Manning, Peyton/Eli, etc) and if you’re a black athlete who is a decent person (See: Dawkins, Brian; Duncan, Tim etc) you’re boring or more insulting you're not really "black."
What a cornball!
Now on the other side of the coin, the white athlete that is a knucklehead is having fun (Patrick Kane) or he made a poor choice reflecting only on him (Ben Rothliesberger).
He's just having a blast and not publicly intoxicated!
The black athlete who has fun has his home life dissected and told he’ll never be a winner due to the lack of a father figure (John Wall) or if arrested it’s not a poor or reprehensible choice made by an individual, it’s something that basically was going to happen because all young black guys are criminals right?

The issue is bigger than Marshall Henderson, Johnny Manziel, or any other player out there right now. Those kids are allowed to be themselves. I can’t knock them. But I can knock the lazy people who cover them and expect other people to shoulder the burden of an entire race without learning the people they're covering.

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