Guest Post: Coded Language in Criticizing and Worshiping Athletes
by Lavern Merriweather
When former cycling champion, now disgraced cheater Lance Armstrong finally decided to come clean and admit that yes, he did use a performance enhancer to win seven Tour De France races, I noticed something very interesting with how a lot of white people in the media are framing this story. True, there are some who are calling Armstrong out for the scumbag and liar that he is and are giving him grief for the lousy way he treated his accusers. Still, what gets me the most are those who are calling this story ‘sad’ and saying how this just proves that he’s human, how we can’t expect our sports heroes to be 100 percent elite on their own, and everybody cheats.
What a crock of shit! Now, all of a sudden, we shouldn’t slam the hammer down on people who cheat? That’s NOT what a lot of white males were saying when this was Barry Bonds. In fact judging from the way they were acting, you would have thought Mr. Bonds was chilling in the mansion with Osama Bin Laden. White males in the media showed him such a level of hatred that I thought he ran over a schoolyard of children on purpose. It even got to the point where supposedly respected journalist Wolf Biltzer of CNN even got into the fray. Barry Bonds was criticized continuously for putting a ‘black eye’ on baseball and bringing disgrace to the sport. But apparently, now those same hatemongers and ‘holier thans’ have softened their tone as well as their message.
Armstrong is allowed to be just a flawed man who cheated to get an edge because hey, everybody cheats at some point. Not only that, the media is lumping other athletes in with him while Mr. Bonds stood alone and was taking many cheap shots by the public and stand-up comedians who have obviously never met an excuse or opportunity they couldn’t exploit to let their racism flag fly.
A number of the comments in regards to Lance on the sports message boards lean toward a far more compassionate slant than they ever did for Mr. Bonds, and the reason is as plain as day. The mentality of the dominant society is that whenever black people doing anything wrong or negative, it’s to be expected. We are natural born thieves, cheaters, liars, addicts, wife beaters, rapists, drug dealers, pedophiles, drunk drivers. We are just prone to bad behavior.
What kills me the most are the white males in the media who attack the officials that looked the other way when Armstrong was doping as if they themselves didn’t also turn a blind eye for their ‘golden boy’. And he was their golden boy because he was the perfect prototype for white males to point at as an example of their greatness. So, they along with everybody else didn’t give a crap about the many allegations that have haunted Mr. Armstrong for over a decade and chose to ignore what was staring them right in the face.
The same as they did for Mark McGwire even when Ray Charles could see that he was juicing, but he was also a hero.
If Barry Bonds cheated then I’ll concede that he made a very poor choice, but even if there were no suspicion at all, he would still never be celebrated. And don’t tell me it’s because of his surly demeanor. That has nothing to do with it. The media, being comprised of some very racist white males, however has everything to do with it.
Black athletes especially those blessed with amazing prowess are believed to be born that way. So, why honor people who are just doing what comes naturally? Lance, on the other hand, was supposed to have done it with grit, determination and heart, the typical adjectives they use for white male athletes. So, how dare he expose that yes some white males aren’t so pristine, will use any and all measures to claw their way to the top and step on anybody who is foolish enough to challenge how special they are even when they know the people they glorify could very well be manipulative and dishonest.
Many white males in the media even aided Mr. Armstrong in hurting his accusers by saying they were just jealous or attacked their credibility. Certainly I’d like to admire anyone who can survive a deadly life threatening disease such as cancer, but that doesn’t absolve Lance Armstrong of hiding behind his illness when he was facing the worst of allegations. He might as well have been a 7 year-old child stomping his feet and angrily folding his arms over his chest. By that, I mean he was a major league brat and a bully, all the while with the eager help of many of the same overly, righteous white folks that gave Barry Bonds so much shit for his supposed steroid use, which to this day they have still never proven. Then again, it probably wouldn’t matter because black males are just guilty by default.
It reminds me of that line from the Ice Cube movie where he says “my skin is my sin”, and for white males like Lance Armstrong, their skin is their redeemer, because it allows for him and every other white male to be viewed as a human being who can be the biggest most arrogant jerk in the world and still have people see him as a hero. There are some in the media who have the nerve to say we need to watch who we call our heroes. Maybe instead, they need to figure out why it is that they are so steeped in denial when one of their stars seems to have lost some of his shine.