Dexter Rogers

Dexter Rogers

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Does quarterback Ben Roethlisberger get a pass because he’s white?

Pittsburgh Steeler quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has been accused of sexual assault.

For the second time mind you. Roethlisberger has been accused of assaulting a 20-year old student in Georgia.

Where is the media coverage?

Why is Roethisberger seemingly getting a pass on the level of media coverage as compared to the likes of Michael Vick, Plaxico Burress and others?

Allow me to get to the point. In my opinion Roethlisberger is getting a pass because he’s a white quarterback in the NFL coupled with lack of diversity in mainstream media.

Roethlisberger plays the glory position in football so he’ll be protected by that along with his complexion. If Donavan McNabb or Jason Campbell would’ve had two cases involving women hanging over their head you think the media would cover them more or less than Roethlisberger?

According to the The Institute of Diversity and Ethics in Sports at the University at Central Florida percentages indicate 89.7 percent of Sports Columnists in this country are white. The NFL has approximately 72 percent of its players being African-American. Obviously there’s a gap in terms of the racial parity between those playing the game compared to those covering it.

Why does this matter?

Roethlisberger gets a pass because the vast majority of those covering him get him can make the connection because of their shared complexion.

Yours truly appeared on CNN as a guest on the Rick Sanchez Show where I essentially expressed the following.

Largely many white writers don’t understand the African-American athlete. They often rely on stereotypes, assumptions, and ignorance in characterizing the African-American athlete in sports. Thus their depiction often becomes the universal gospel of truth without substantiating their commentary with concrete objective criteria.

For instance, when I covered the US Open in Flushing Meadows, New York in 2008 there were over 1000 credentialed writers from all over the world. But there were less than 10 who had a complexion that resembled mine. There’s something wrong with that.

Whites generally identify with one another just like African-Americans generally gravitate towards each other. As history suggests whites have dominated this country from its inception therefore African-Americans and other ethnic groups have had to adapt to find their place.

But the key ingredient is the misrepresentation and inaccurate coverage of the African-American athlete from a white vantage point. When you have 89.7 of the Sports Columnists being white, over 90 of the owners and Editors of newspapers being white you are dealing with a perception that ultimately reflects in the coverage of the African-American athlete.

What’s the remedy?

More parity is needed. Diversifying at the top of the media ranks will ultimately filter down to the masses. This takes those in decision-making capacities to open their collective minds to constructively attack their ignorance to solicit varied opportunities for all.

It is vital African-American journalists and athletes with a conscious to utilize their platform to alert the public of their feelings irrespective of the potential backlash.

Isn’t that what pioneers back in the day did?

In 1967 Muhammad Ali was vilified for refusing induction in the military citing his religious beliefs. He was hated initially but later embraced because of his conviction. Just so happened Ali turned out to be right in his stance with the passage of time.

In short, what seems controversial today is typically embraced and understood tomorrow.

So is Big Ben getting a pass solely because of his complexion?

No.

He’s getting a pass because it’s not enough people who look like me in mainstream willing to alert the people of how the media really works instead of relying on the robotic dissemination of information that’s designed to keep us mentally docile.

Whatever type of coverage you desire is your decision: But if you want the real deal then you I think you have come to the right place.