The Intertextuality of Hip Hop and Sport Part II

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Photo Credit: gawker.com

In a time of social despair, the release of the “Straight Outta Compton” film continues to act as a pivotal element in re-inspiring multiple generations of people across the world. Although the timely film brought back some unsettled memories for a few people (get the story behind the film here: https://byoungncompany.com/inspiration/), it positively recollects how “the world’s most dangerous group” made Los Angeles professional sports apparel a popular trend within Hip Hop and many other cultures.

In the 2010 ESPN 30 for 30 “Straight Outta L.A.,” former NWA member Ice Cube talks about how LA Hip Hop changed the rules of the rap game in the same way the LA Raiders changed the rules of football. During the Raiders’ 13 years in LA, the team was known for being  the ruthless “bad boys” of football and NWA identified with that same ruthless, bad boy attitude in rap, which is why group members were frequently seen sporting black or wearing Raider gear. It was all  a part of their identity. Read More

Softball or Female Baseball Players?

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Photo Credit: TimeInc.com

Although Little League dugouts and diamonds are slowly clearing out as fall approaches, there remains a lingering issue that has yet to hit home. In 2014, Philadelphia Taney Dragon Little League baseball player Mo’Ne Davis took the world by storm with her unique curveball and 70 mile per hour fast ball silencing the notion that girls can’t throw or compete with the boys. But why is Davis and many other girls competing with boys instead of competing in a league of their own? On one hand, there aren’t any baseball leagues for girls so they’re forced to play with the boys. On the other hand, girl’s softball leagues are lacking because many girls are playing baseball. Furthermore, the difference in the two games hurts girls once they get to high school and have to play softball, although many girls choose to continue to play baseball with boys in high school. These young ladies will likely experience some challenges once they make it to the college level. However, some colleges allow women to play baseball with the men. But this run will eventually come to an end, as there isn’t a professional baseball league for women. Many coaches and female players don’t consider softball to be equivalent to baseball because the dynamics of the game are different – different pitching styles, different distance between bases, different number of innings and different sizes of balls and fields. Many females prefer to pitch overhanded opposed to the unorthodox, underhanded pitch. The 1992 film “A League of Their Own” depicts the women of the 1940’s All American Girls Professional Baseball League pitching overhanded with baseballs instead of the larger softballs. So, if women had their own baseball league over 50 years ago, why are girls and women being limited to softball today? Read More

Jamarcus Nelson’s Sprint to the NFL

Many NFL players have played football their entire lives, but Jamarcus Nelson’s journey began his junior year in high school. At the University of Alabama at Birmingham, his hands and speed catapulted him from a sleeper to one of the most talked about wide receivers and kickoff and punt returners in college football. BYNC Reporter Brittany Young speaks with the former UAB All-American and Arizona Cardinal rookie about his road to the NFL and his expectations for the upcoming season.

Three World Cups, Zero Pay Increase

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Photo Credit: The Boston Globe

It’s the same old story, just a different sport. In my article “Challenging the Status Quo,” I discuss the television coverage and pay gap between the WNBA and the NBA. In 2005, Venus Williams wrote a letter to the London Times fighting for pay equality at Wimbledon, the same effort she put forth as an 18 year old in 1998. “Venus VS.” – the espnW Nine for IX film directed by Ava Duvernay – documents Williams’ fight for pay equality that led to her becoming the first Wimbledon women’s champion to earn as much as the men’s singles winner (Roger Federer) in 2007. Just like the WNBA, the Women’s Tennis Association, Ladies Professional Golf Association – and even after winning three World Cups – the United States Women’s National Soccer team are still being cheated financially. According to the Los Angeles Times, the Fédération Internationale de Football Association only gave the United States team $2 million for winning the World Cup from a total cup purse of $15 million distributed to the women’s World Cup teams.

In comparison, 2014 World Cup champion Germany received $35 million from a total FIFA purse of $358 million distributed to men’s World Cup teams. The World Cup final between the U.S. and Japan garnered the largest audience ever (on Fox and Telemundo) for a televised soccer game in the U.S. at 26.7 million, and produced record ratings in Japan, Canada, France, England and China. Furthermore, the Nine for IX film “the 99ers” highlights how the U.S. women’s soccer team positively changed the face of women’s athletics. Sixteen years ago, women soccer players were able to draw a crowd of more than 90,000 fans at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif., and about 40 million Americans watching on television.

There’s no doubt soccer has the leverage to bring in sponsorships and there’s a market for women, but for some reason it’s still tough for them to gain support. Read More

Alabama Heat Elite Suit up for Super Showcase

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Photo by Brittany Young: Alabama Heat Elite freshman and sophomore Amateur Athletic Union basketball teams practicing at Homewood High School.

July is probably the most popular month of the summer season. During this month, not only does America celebrate its independence, but college basketball coaches have the independence to travel across the country and recruit student-athletes for their programs. On the flip side, July is an opportunity for student-athletes to showcase their talent and skills in hopes of catching the eyes of coaches and later receiving scholarship offers.

Garnering attention from coaches shouldn’t be a problem for the ladies of the Alabama Heat Elite. The Amateur Athletic Union basketball club consists of a ninth and tenth-grade team. The ninth-grade team is ranked No. 2 in Alabama, No. 17 in the nation and has players who already have scholarship offers.

Both teams are preparing to embark on a journey of showcases across the Southeast, beginning with the Super Showcase in Orlando, Fla., July 5. Steve Ward is the head coach of the freshman squad. As talented as the athletes are, he admits it can be challenging to get them to stay focused.

“It’s hard because they are still young and they’re still learning how to be consistent,” Ward says.

However, Coach Ward doesn’t have to stress much knowing he has a composed, floor general in Hannah Barber. The Homewood High School 6A state champion already has scholarship offers from Jacksonville State, Samford and the University of Southern Mississippi. Read More

Goals Higher than 10 Feet

Los Angeles rookie Candace Parker slams down two of her 10 points with 29 seconds left to play against Indiana. Parker joined teammate Lisa Leslie as the only players to dunk in a WNBA game.

Photo Credit: USA Today

I was recently approached with the question should female basketball players play on nine-foot goals to make the women’s game more exciting on all levels? The old me would’ve said yes without any hesitation. I always dreamed of being able to dunk and if I was able to play on a nine-foot goal instead of the normal 10-foot goal, that dream would’ve come true. Twelve inches is a big difference. However, I recently had the privilege to experience a WNBA game first-hand. The Washington Mystics battled the Atlanta Dream and it was an intense, high-energy game. The ladies balled out, and a lot of their plays should’ve made “SportsCenter’s” or “Fox Sports Live’s” top plays. To see that type of performance was reassurance that the women’s game is moving forward in the right direction. Now, I had a former high school girls basketball coach say that lowering the goals would increase the women’s game and bring in more fans. This statement may be true because if more women are dunking, catching alley-oops, slapping the glass and playing above the rim, this may garner the attention of more fans. On the other hand, this excitement comes at a cost. Essentially, this change would water down the women’s game. I’m all for change if it’s for the better, but this change would negate everything female basketball players have worked for thus far. To play with a smaller ball is one thing – many women can play just as well with men’s basketballs – but to change the height of the goals, female ballers would have to change their shots and that’s a problem.

Women would probably agree that, although it’s tempting, they don’t want the easy way out. Goals shouldn’t be lowered to nine feet, female players need to continue to play at a higher level. Many fans and college coaches are looking at girls basketball at the middle school and high school levels and focusing on the bad players instead of the talented ones. There are some players who get involved with the game at a young age, work hard and their performance shows, while others may play because their parents want them to, their friends are playing or other reasons that are a reflection of their performance. Genetically, males are more athletic than females, so male basketball players playing above the rim comes more naturally. Although there are athletic women who are explosive and can dunk , if fans judge the quality of the women’s game based on it being above the rim, then female basketball players will never be good enough. Read More

Lebron James, Face of the NBA

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Photo Credit: GQ.com

It’s levels to becoming the face of any team, company or organization. In Lebron James’ case, he’s not only the face of the Cleveland Cavaliers, but he’s also the face of the National Basketball Association. Rapper Jay-Z says it best, “I’m not a businessman, I’m a business, man.” James is every bit of this quote, because he is a talented athlete who has leveraged himself into a profitable business. What does this have to do with him being the face of the NBA? Some qualifications of having this honor consist of superb talent, good character, clean image and strong fan support. The fact that James meets all of these qualifications – and has since he stepped foot into the NBA – has led to a brand that is normal of a white, male athlete and multiple endorsements (Mocarski & Billings, 2014). James, similar to Michael Jordan, is the opposite of the negative stigma of African American, male athletes. It starts with character. Since entering the league as an 18 year old in 2003, James hasn’t had any run-ins with law enforcement, such as being cited for a DUI, possession of marijuana, domestic violence or sexual assault. Not saying that every male of color has issues with the law, but this phenomenon is problematic among males of color and has been quite for some time. It’s even becoming more prevalent among African American college athletes. There are also other talented males of color who have good images, but none of them have been able to garner the respect that James has. Now, I do not agree with James overruling his head coach in public – that’s cancerous to any team – or holding out to resign his contract with the Cavs. If you’re the franchise player, you should be confident enough to know that your franchise will put the right players around you in order to win. In this instance, James is abusing his power and he needs to humble himself.

On the other hand, I do agree with the way James has put himself in position to be able to put those around him in a better position. The 2012 ESPN 30 for 30 film “Broke” documents former NBA, NFL and MLB players giving testimonies of how they went bankrupt shortly after retirement. According to Sports Illustrated, sixty-percent of NBA players are broke within five years of retirement and 78 percent of former NFL players have gone bankrupt within three. However, James has ensured this will not be the case for him by figuring out how to maximize his gift of basketball and creating generational wealth for his family. Read More

And the No.1 Pick Is

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Photo Credit: USA Today

The 2015 NFL Draft was centered around Jameis Winston, Marcus Mariota and which quarterback the Tampa Bay Buccaneers would select with the No.1 pick. Everyone knew whomever was selected first, the other would be selected next. Just as the NFL always has a high demand for talented quarterbacks, the NBA has a high demand for talented and healthy post players, because they are few and far between. Similar to the NFL Draft, the 2015 NBA Draft is centered around the University of Kentucky’s Karl-Anthony Towns, Duke University’s Jahlil Okafor and who the Minnesota Timberwolves will select with the No.1 pick. In the process of rebuilding its franchise, the Timberwolves made a great decision to trade for the 2014 No.1 pick and 2015 NBA Rookie of the Year in Andrew Wiggins. Minnesota had to trade franchise player Kevin Love in the process but the T-Wolves are still headed in the right direction for the future. Along with small forward Wiggins, T-wolves have a solid foundation with the return of veteran power forward Kevin Garnett, point guard Ricky Rubio and 2015 Slam-Dunk contest winner and shooting guard Zack Lavine. Now, T-Wolves need a strong center. Does the team choose Okafor or Towns? Read More

College Athletics, a Means to an End for Female Athletes

Photo Credit: Walsh University Athletics

We’ve all heard the phrase, “most athletes will go pro in something other than sports.” It’s tough to get to the professional level of any sport or by the time a student-athlete graduates from college, he or she is burnt out from years of strenuous physical activity. However, at least male football, baseball, hockey and soccer players have the availability of a professional league. Athletes have the opportunity to compete in the Olympic games, but they only come around every four years. Where are the women’s professional softball, volleyball and gymnastics leagues? Of the thousands of female athletes within each sport, a portion of them have the desire, talent and longevity to compete year-round in a national league just as the men do. There are female athletes who want more than the experience of being a collegiate athlete and receiving a college degree.

There’s a National Women’s Soccer League, which most people don’t know about. According to politico.com, the women’s salaries reportedly range from $6,000 to $30,000. Each team has a salary cap of about $200,000 compared to a $3.1 million salary cap for Men’s League Soccer. Besides the Women’s Tennis Association, broadcasters have marginalized women’s sports, resulting in less money being dispersed to players. Furthermore, a lot of discussion centers around whether there’s an audience for women’s sports – the WNBA struggles to garner quantitative views, and the most television coverage NWSL players receive is during the FIFA World Cup – so if these leagues are created, will viewers tune in? This topic is hard to decipher due to the lack luster coverage women’s college athletics receive from sports networks. If female college athletes received more coverage, researchers can collect quantitative data to examine to what extent viewers are watching women’s college athletics. If viewers are watching women’s college athletics, more than likely, they’ll watch professional women’s sports. On the other hand, women’s college volleyball and soccer is overshadowed by college football and the WNBA takes the backseat to the NBA playoffs and MLB season. Female athletes just can’t catch a break. Read More

Challenging the Status Quo

Photo Credit: ESPN.com

With the 2015 WNBA season underway, I want to bring your attention to a matter that is rarely discussed, but is necessary for the growth of the women’s game. Every year, the NBA Draft is flooded with underclassmen who decide to leave college early to punch their tickets to fulfill a lifelong dream. However, this isn’t the case for female basketball players. With a few exceptions, they usually exhaust their eligibility to get their degrees whether they plan to play professionally or not, mainly because the WNBA salaries are like minimum wage compared to what NBA players make. In addition to the WNBA, players have to play overseas just to break six figures, while the average NBA player can earn six figures just for showing up.  Although, the WNBA is barely tw0-decades old, has shorter seasons and fewer teams and sponsors, the financial disparity is wide. Now, the veterans and star players such as Candace Parker and Diana Taurasi have million dollar networths after endorsements, but the WNBA currently has a maximum salary of $107,000 annually. Some of the coaches make more than double the salary of star players. Read More

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