Snarky Behavior

White Men Can’t Jump to Conclusions Mat

May 10, 2007 · Leave a Comment

You see Billy it’s like this, you either smoke or you get smoked. And you got smoked.

Yeah, I got smoked today. I played hard but I made a couple of dumb passes, missed an easy lay-up or two, and generally contributed nothing on the offensive end. I was Adam Morrison, minus the mustache, the offensive game, and the tears. The tears came later.

Let me preface the rest of this post by stating in advance that I am not a racist (well, evelywone’s a rittle bit lacist). But, I’m not politically correct, either.

“Political correctness” encourages self-censorship when discussing the sensitive issue of race. Everyone’s afraid of being Imus, so it’s better to omit the subject altogether. Unless you have a fat blanket of immunity like Rosie O’Donnell.

Anywho, today I was the only white guy on the court. I wore a blue shirt so my nickname was “Smurf” or “Light-Skin.” In the past I have been “Dan Majerle,” “Vlade,” “Luke Jackson,” “B-Sheezy,” “White Chocolate,” and “Flower” … but more often than not I’m “that dude” [disdainful half-handed gesture].

Whatever, right? My self-identity isn’t defined by my ethnicity. It’s water [or in my case, profuse perspiration] off my back. I was brought up in a burnt-out hippie Unitarian Church where “tolerance” was proselytized as the ultimate virtue. In fact, I’ve been socialized to view my race as “Clear,” since the term “White” or “Caucasian” doesn’t resonate.

So being called “Whitey” isn’t offensive to me, even though it is prejudicial and (in this instance) I was being discriminated for it (my teammates refused to pass me the ball, even when I made wide open cuts to the basket).

I used to be intimidated by being the only White guy on the court full of Black guys. I never played high-school ball and so I spent the majority of my time at UCLA playing against Asian and White guys, with the occasional Mexican (I’m being presumptuous…Which is it? Latino? Hispanic? Chicano? I took Spanish for 7 years and I’m still not sure which is the appropriate nomenclature)… oh, and an Indian or Persian in there for good measure.

But I learned from my roommate Will (a hard-nosed baller) that it’s silly to be intimidated by anyone on the court. It’s a mental advantage that Black guys use against White guys, and White guys use against Asian guys. I wish I were making this up, but it’s an overwhelmingly true phenomenon… basketball is a competitive game, and your phenotype’s-stereotype is a competitive advantage. I’ve literally been scoffed at by a team (”man, my blackness will beat you”) before running them off the court 11-2.

What bothers me about being the White guy on the court is not the fact that I’m not going to get passed the ball. That’s fine. If I play hard, grab some boards, run some breaks and make some baskets my teammates will start giving me looks.

I don’t even mind the constant bickering that goes on, or the questionable fouls that are called when the game is close. Yeah it can get annoying, but it’s usually pretty damn entertaining, too.

What bothers me is the nonchalance.

In my experience, the attitude that goes hand in hand with “my blackness will beat you” is an inexplicable commitment to not trying your hardest. When things start going poorly in the game, some guys will start jacking up fade-away jumpers or stop playing defense altogether. The game falls apart as everyone catches on and cherry-picks for the rest of the game.

It KILLS me. I just want to walk off the court when I see that shit.

Look. I know you’re a better physical specimen than me. I know you’re taller, faster, more athletic, more skilled, less sweaty and more experienced. I know you’d probably beat me 1-on-1 10 out of 10 times. And I’m sure your penis dwarfs mine.

But I’m out here TRYING. I’m hustling, boxing out, playing defense, chasing balls, being competitive. I know I don’t look cool doing it. I know I barely get 12 inches off the ground. But I’m here to challenge you. At least give me a game… I’m not a complete scrub.


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