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The side of athletes you rarely see

Tuesday August 26, 1996:

It was my second day at Lake Dallas High School; a far cry from the confines I grew up in from the previous 11 years of my life. Growing up in Denton, Texas allowed me to be around a mix of races, and gave me the opportunity to make friends with everyone. We all looked forward to continuing our journey from elementary school to middle school to high school…except I didn’t join them. My folks bought a house, and we moved about 15 miles to South Denton County, but in a different school district. My entire first day in a new place and school, I didn’t see any Black people, any Mexican people, any Asian people, nothing. The second day was starting off the same as the first, until I saw this big-faced brother with an Elden Campbell Basketball Camp shirt on. Since I was familiar with the camp (the camp was held in Marshall, Texas, at Wiley College), I asked him about the shirt, and from then on, Anthony Allen became my best friend, and has been ever since. If it wasn’t for Elden Campbell’s Basketball Camp, there’s no telling how my second day would have went, or the rest of the week, for that matter.

Usually when you hear about athletes, it’s either when they are performing well, performing below expectations, performing like crap, or if they got in trouble. Rarely will you hear or read about them doing great things off the court or the field, and for reasons beyond me, I’ll never understand why. Part of the reason this is even being written is because of something that was said by a writer that I have tremendous respect for. He basically talked about the responsibility of today’s writers and how they should feel compelled to write quality work and not wallow in mediocrity or convenience. It’s easy to say I couldn’t agree with the man more.

Allen Iverson has his annual charity softball games, as well as an initiative to provide scholarships for kids to go to college. Yet, stories like this are drowned out by the articles about his attitude, or him being a team-killer, despite the fact he was arguably the toughest NBA player in my lifetime. Don’t get me wrong; it’s evident the man has brought plenty of criticism on himself, but just as quick as folks rush to criticize, they should be able to use that same energy to give the man his due, when he does his part to enhance lives around him.

You have Kendrick Perkins, who’s holding a basketball camp back in his hometown of Beaumont, but one of the first things people say about him is he has a bad attitude, and that he’s a lightning rod for refs. Granted, I understand things have to be said and reported, but there are some times when it truly seems like overkill. Here’s a cat, holding a camp in Beaumont, and believe me; I’ve been to Beaumont, and while it’s cool and all, he’s bringing professional athletes to be with these kids, and is providing them an opportunity to be around some of the players they see on TV, but likely would have never thought they would get a chance to meet.

Floyd Mayweather has a boxing camp for kids, and we all know that when his name is brought up, the last thing we hear about his what he’s doing for the kids. Thank God for Twitter, or the masses would have no idea about the good he does in the community, or the fact that the camp he puts together is free. People are so worried about how he spends his money, but don’t give the same effort into how he spends his time. It’s unbelievable.

Another one that continues to baffle the living daylights out of me was the culmination of LeBronapalooza. The man raised over $2.5 million, with all the proceeds going to the Boys and Girls Club, yet people said he could have just quietly written a check and donated it to them behind closed doors. So let me get this right; the public says athletes don’t do enough, so when an athlete does give and also provides visibility for the organization he’s targeting, that’s wrong as well? Right. Sure; that makes complete and total sense.

Antonio Bryant is another one. He’s done some questionable things in his career, but he’s also made it a point to take care of pee-wee teams back in his hometown of Miami for years now. Whether it’s buying them all cleats, or having Terrell Owens make them a donation in exchange for Bryant's jersey number, he's been doing these kinds of things for a long time. Do people talk about his admirable deeds with the same enthusiasm that they talk about his setbacks? The answer to that one is more than clear...

Here’s the thing; people are more inclined to read negativity than positivity. That’s understood and it would be incredibly na├»ve to suggest otherwise. However, when folks have a pen, a laptop, typewriter, or whatever they use to write at their disposal, there should be a duty that makes them want to write the best stuff possible. These days, people chase convenience, and it’s accepted because of the times we live in now. Personally, I’d rather write one article a day, with all the effort I have, than write three pieces of crap masqueraded as quality, when it actuality, it is merely a story out of convenience and is no different than the malarkey and the rigamarole we've come to accept. Anyone can write LeBron articles everyday, or about Michael Vick getting caught up for being a dog killer. That takes little-to-no-effort to write article-after-article criticizing them. When people can use that same effort to write some good, then it really means something.

Be easy.
-K. Masenda
P.S. As a reminder, checkout the livest sports talk (and hopefully on the radio soon) show around, "The Unsportsmanlike Conduct Show" as we are live Wednesday's at 9pm Eastern at http://www.blogtalkradio.com/edthesportsfan! Download our podcasts if you missed the live show as well!


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