Monday, November 22, 2004

Is it really about race?

Jason Whitlock has an excellent column in today's Kansas City Star about the Pacers/Pistons incident.

"American sports fans, particularly those who consistently shell out the hundreds of dollars it takes to attend a professional game, are fed up with black professional basketball players in particular and black professional athletes to a lesser degree.

Yeah, let's cut through all the garbage and get to the real issue. The people paying the bills don't like the product, don't like the attitude, don't like the showboating and don't like the flamboyance. The NBA, which relies heavily on African-American players, is at the forefront of fan backlash. Stern realizes this, and that's why, spurred on by the Detroit brawl, he is reacting decisively.

What the players must come to grips with is that just because race is an element in the backlash, that doesn't mean the backlash is fueled by racism.

We're witnessing a clash of cultures. A predominately white fan base is rejecting a predominately black style of play and sportsmanship."

I agree with Whitlock, that the tension between fans and athletes isn't fueled by racism, but a criticism of behavior. Don't forget, the fanbase of the NFL was pretty critical of Eli Manning's comments on the eve of the draft - he put himself above the league and the team and almost no one thought that was appropriate.

Where I diverge from Whitlock is the "black style of play." Aside from T.O., the NFL has whole bunch of black athletes that don't act like boobs. I don't think it has anything to do with race, I think it has to do with age, experience, and the game concept.

1. Obviously, football is much more of team game. No one man can do it alone. Eleven guys, working in tandem, police each other's behavior. Occassionally, the loudmouth emerges, but for the most part, everyone behaves like a professional.

2. The NBA drafts kids right out of high school. At 18 years old, kids with no self-discipline become millionaires, and all external controls to their behavior are removed. In the NFL, players must complete some college before getting drafted, in the right program, under the right coach, it matures the players before they begin their professional career. It's humbling to live in a dorm, no matter how nice it is, go to class, no matter how occassionally, and have to worry about things like schoolwork, even if you take "gut" courses and have a tutor. MLB matures its young in the minor league system, subjecting them to buses, cheap hotels, and towns in the middle of nowhere.

The NBA athlete has never been humbled, never known external controls, and doesn't know how to behave as part of something bigger than themself. Draft white kids out of high school under ther same conditions, and you create the same problems.

It's not a question of race, it's a question of maturity.

I guess those garbagemen won't have to work for free after all...

At least this year, anyway.

Some city officials already see fiscal package falling short:

"The occupation tax -- raised for the first time since it was implemented in 1965 -- is far lower than the $144 yearly tax the oversight board recommended. It is also lower than the $61 the tax would be if it had been adjusted for inflation.

The oversight board wanted the rate revisited every three years, but the Legislature did not add such a re-opener to the final bill.

Lawmakers also barred the city from seeking commuter taxes allowed under Act 47 for the seven-year life of the oversight board.

'What was served is not really tax reform. It's essentially putting a Band-Aid on,' Councilman Doug Shields said. 'This doesn't do anything but put us in position to be back in Harrisburg next year.'

'The city is going to be locked in [to $52] for another 40 years,' Ricciardi [City Councilman Gene Riccardi] said."

I don't understand why these people don't get it - healthy suburbs need healthy cities. Is city spending out of line? - ABSOLUTELY! Do they need city-county consolidation? It's difficult to determine; however, some sort of tax-revenue sharing arrangement in the county needs to be put in place. The occupancy of the City of Pittsburgh is almost 10 times its resident population during business hours. Police, Fire, EMT need to be paid for, as well as Downtown and Oakland streets that get driven on by people from Penn Hills, Cranberry, and Peters Township everyday. Would $61/year with inflation-adjustment really have been a big deal when compared with $52/year? Nine dollars to be earned over 2,080 hours in a year. Even if you only earn $10/hour, you will have earned you occupancy tax on your first day of work in 2005.

Greedy suburbanities don't want to pay the occupancy tax - fine, bring the businesses out of the city. When your road maintenance costs go up, when you have to expand your water and sewer capability, when you have to hire more police and fire protection, then you can pay more in property and wage taxes, because you can't raise business or payroll taxes. The businesses can just jump to the next town.