The Following is an excerpt from Black Dot's book Urban Culture Decoded
This chapter is directly related to the culture of sports but I felt it needed to be addressed separately. Long gone are the days when highlights were seen only on the 11 o’clock news or on Saturday afternoons. Now sports highlights are shown 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. ESPN has changed the landscape of sports in America forever. Coaches no longer have the power to teach the fundamentals of the game, or develop an athlete in stages to monitor his or her progression. Every athlete young and old now wants to bypass the learning stages of their development to go straight to the highlight stage. Everybody wants to be a star. As a result, they have become un-coachable. The athlete has been put on such a pedestal and glorified in such a manner, that they have been made to seem Godlike. ESPN has created an entirely new industry. Not just one that sells products, but one that sells ideas, concepts, pushes agendas, etc. The athlete it used to promote stories of success, failure, and crimes, even politics. The athlete’s connection with young people of urban decent is only second to that of a rapper. They carry a lot of influence.
This has a profound effect on the thinking and actions of urban youth. Their favorite athlete resides in their living rooms all day and night.I wrote in my book Hip Hop Decoded that we have been cut off from the celestial stars that used to guide us and govern our lives, now we rely on man-made stars for inspiration. We they rise, we rise, and when they fall, we fall as well. ESPN has helped to create this matrix where our youth have been emotionally, spiritually and physically aligned with athletes, even beyond sports. Our youth invest their life’s energy in the journey of others. And truth be told, the experience is only real to the athlete since he or she is the only one playing. It’s impossible for you, the spectator to truly know and feel what winning or losing a game of great magnitude is about. Since you didn’t put in the thousands of hours of hard work and practice leading up to a big shot or touchdown, your external experience is mere in comparison. However, being bombarded 24 hours a day 7 days a week with every aspect of a player’s life, ESPN has made it extremely hard for one to “unplug” from this artificial reality.
With the notoriety provided by ESPN and other sports networks, sports are no longer everything, it’s everything times everything. Even junior high school and high school players can see their highlights on the nightly sports news, and since basketball players can bypass college all together and still make it to the pros, it is the sport of choice for urban youth. But is the mentality of a high school athlete thrust into the limelight with millions of dollars and no true education a good thing? I beg to differ. ESPN had opened the fast track for urban athletes to excel by giving them maximum exposure at such an early age. As a result, we have multi-millionaires who have not developed beyond a street mentality. Turn on ESPN these days and we are finally seeing the residual results of this process. We have begun to manufacture athletes at a quantum rate, and high schools, colleges, and corporate America are the biggest beneficiaries. There is an endless supply of athletes from poor environments that will line up to be exploited next, but I guess it beats standing on the corner, selling crack
The Black Dot is the author or the underground classic Hip-Hop Decoded, and his new book, Urban Culture Decoded.