Black vs White: Mental Fortitude
I watched the Butler/Villanova game last Saturday and while nothing especially exciting happened in that game, it did give me the content I needed to send out, what I was told by many, was my funniest snapchat of the year so far. Lets all for a moment assume my snapchat fans measure my snaps to the highest of standards based on my previous, impressive body of work.
The announcers began talking about the tournament resume for the Butler Bulldogs and that is when the hilarity ensued. Were I a better person I would have saved this snapchat to show the world, but my explanation will have to do. Fox Sports announcers Gus Johnson and Jim Jackson showed a graphic regarding Butler’s tournament resume and it read: “Achilles Heel: Lack of Size” Ok, that’s reasonable, it’s hard to go dancing when you’re outsized at multiple positions. I can live with that analysis.
But then comes the good stuff, the cream cheese frosting on top of grandma’s fresh baked lemon-poppy seed cake if you will. What is the Bulldogs’ strength you might wonder? Look no further than the most important facet of any team, their “mental fortitude.” After all, who needs strength, size, athleticism and basketball skill when you can have mental fortitude? Are you absolutely kidding me? Mental fortitude? You’re telling me that in this amazing world with things like Netflix, space travel and easy bake ovens, some person got paid to make that absurd basketball analysis? Mental fortitude? The term doesn’t actually mean anything it’s just what people say instead of saying, “hey, hope you don’t mind, but I’m gonna talk out of my ass for a few seconds. I’ll try to think of real words next time.” Mental fortitude? I still can’t get over it.
But hey Gus and Jim, for future reference, you don’t have to mix your words, we get it, they’re white. So let’s everybody put all the cards, made-up sports jargon and any cream cheese frosted cakes on the table and let’s all be honest with each other. Let’s say what we really mean. Butler is a white team and as a white team they lack the raw and physical, strength, size, power, athleticism and skill that most black teams have in abundance. But because they’re white, they are smarter and other words and made-up phrases we can use to describe them are as follows: gritty, crafty, resolve, leaders, mental fortitude/edge, nifty, hard work, preparation, dedication, intangibles, IQ, scrappy, grinder,coachable, hustle, deceptively fast/good/athletic/quick/skilled/good at the given sport.
Using certain words to describe black athletes versus white athletes is nothing new to sports fans, but maybe it’s time announcers analyze players and teams according to their actual skill set rather than group them with everyone else in their race? Just thinking out loud here.
In their defense however, I will admit that looking back into the depths of college basketball, we don’t have to go far to find the white basketball archetype, the man who it’s safe to assume becomes burned within seconds of looking out the window, glows in the dark and makes Nicole Kidman look black, the one and only, Aaron Craft. Craft defined and embodied every single one of the stereotypes mentioned above. He was deceptively everything and an extremely important and effective player for Ohio State. With that said and all jokes aside, let’s throw those stereotypes out the window and determine player’s and team’s value based on what they’ve done, not what the Aaron Craft’s of the world before them have.
But most importantly, whatever we do, let’s all vow to never seriously use the term “mental fortitude” again. And to those who do, tread with caution. Though I probably won’t care as I anticipate I’ll be watching Netflix while playing with my easy bake oven as I ponder space travel.