A couple of very good articles have recently been published by excellent journalists. Jason Whitlock and LZ Granderson both, in their own ways, address an escalating problem in popular culture: the furtherance of a “hood” culture through displays of immaturity. It is not only rappers that contribute to the problem. Athletes often use their money for wrong reasons and end up making the problem only worse. With influence comes great responsibility.
LZ Granderson, of ESPN Page 2 notoriety, published an article about street cred. If you do not know what street cred is, it is when you are popular and “cool” amongst people that you aim to impress. Specifically, street cred is aimed at proving worthiness among a culture that often associates itself with guns, gangs, and illegally obtained money. Why would established entities that made their way up from the bottom ever want to regress back to the streets in order to gain this type of credibility? LZ Granderson reports on his own personal story, and how he has had to overcome a troubled past to become who he is today [Pursuit of street cred is a dangerous choice]. It is definitely a sad fact that nearly one in three black American men are either in prison or an ex-convict. Athletes have the ability to at least try to change this telling fact. Instead of buying into the whole street cred idea, black athletes can show youths all the positive things that one can do with money. Agents can help their clients achieve such feats.
Jason Whitlock of FoxSports.com gives some examples of how athletes can attempt to curb their likelihood of being the targets of criminals [NFL truths: Tomlin, Taylor and more]. I’ll take it a step further and say that taking Whitlock’s advice will influence future generations in a positive manner, as well. Here are Whitlock’s ideas:
- Put your money in the bank. Do not walk around with large sums of cash. Never stuff thousands of dollar bills in a trash bag and head to a strip club.
- Do not invest in large platinum or gold chains that draw attention to you. Diamond-studded watches are not a good idea, either. And neither are gold fronts. If you are headed to a nightclub in a neighborhood with $80,000 homes and you’re wearing $100,000 in jewelry, turn around, go home and make it a Blockbuster night.
- When you are out in public, tell your friends to keep your name out of their mouths. More fights could be prevented if this phrase was outlawed at all clubs: “Do you know who that is?”
- If you insist on “tricking out” every car you own, don’t ride through poor, working-class neighborhoods flossing your new 22s.
I am sure that it is not easy for either of these black men to express these opinions to the world, but I praise them for having the courage to do such a thing. The quote that I live by is, “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” – Mahatma Gandhi. Athletes have immense power to cause change in the world for the better. As agents, we should lead our athletes to make the right decisions, and always be there for them if they question a certain action.