Monday, April 25, 2011

Black analyst provides different perspective

Rob Ogden

A little over a month ago, ESPN debuted a documentary entitled, “The Fab Five,” which was a portrayal of the five star freshman basketball players at the University of Michigan in 1991.

The five Michigan players, Chris Webber, Jalen Rose, Jimmy King, Ray Jackson and Juwan Howard made up what is considered by many to be the greatest recruiting class ever.

All of them black and many of them raised on very little, the Fab Five often went against the grain of what was normal in college basketball. They were some of the first basketball players to wear, and ultimately popularized, baggy shorts and black socks. They also did not shy away from talking trash.

In the documentary, Rose, who is now an analyst for ESPN and co-produced the piece, had harsh words for fellow African American and former Duke basketball star Grant Hill.

"I hated Duke and I hated everything Duke stood for," Rose said in the documentary. "Schools like Duke didn't recruit players like me. I felt like they only recruited black players that were Uncle Toms."

Hailing from two parents with a college education, Hill came from quite a different background than the Michigan players, and was heavily criticized by the group for playing at a school with predominately white athletes.

In the film, Rose called Hill a "bitch" and suggested that by signing with Duke, he was selling out his race. Michigan and Duke played twice during the 1991 season including in the National Championship game. Duke won both games.

After the documentary was released, Rose was heavily criticized by many, including Hill, for his harsh words for a member of his own race.

In the readings, it suggests that diverse workers provide different perspectives and enable the media to do a better job of covering America’s melting pot. ESPN’s Chris Broussard did just that in response to Rose's comments.

Since race is such a sensitive subject, as a black basketball analyst, Broussard was able to give the perspective from a fellow African American. Broussard argued that by being successful and earning a scholarship to play basketball at a prestigious school like Duke, Grant was actually uplifting his race and not selling it out.

Broussard argued that by not living up to your potential or by falling into a life of common African American stereotypes, then one would be selling out their race.

I believe this is a perspective that only an African American would have been able to give. While people of other races can understand what Broussard is saying, they have not faced the discrimination and stereotyping that black people have in this country.

For these reason, I do believe a diverse group of reporters is important to any form of media.

Here is Broussard's take on the incident:

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