As I sit here at my computer on this very dreary Martin Luther King Jr. Day, I am in a semi-fog in regards to the importance of wins and losses in the sports world. There is a tragedy, an almost unimaginable tragedy that has occurred in the Western Hemisphere. Yes I am talking about the almost “genocidal” non-response to the “army” of “grim reapers” that has invaded the small impoverished Afro-Caribbean country to the south of America, Haiti.
The monumental loss of life is a burden unto itself and overwhelming but the response by the African-American community, particularly affluent Black athletes in the NFL, MLB and the NBA has been very “underwhelming.”
The Afrocentric athletes from other countries and cultures take the economic and social impact of games and sports, very seriously.
Everyone, at least a significant percentage of Black folk seem to be going “Lady Gaga” over a few “insensitive remarks that the CBN right-winger and so-called preacher and part-time politician Pat Robertson made in response to the horrific situation in Haiti.
Robertson said in a nutshell that “something happened a long time ago in Haiti and people might not want to talk about it. They were under the heel of the French. Napoleon the Third and whatever. And they got together and swore a pact to the devil. They said, ‘We will serve you if you get us free from the prince.’ True story.” And so the devil said, “OK, it’s a deal.” They kicked the French out, the Haitians revolted and got themselves free. But ever since, they have been cursed by one thing after the other and desperately poor.
That island of Hispaniola is one island. It’s cut down the middle, on the one side is Haiti, on the other side is the Dominican Republic. The Dominican Republic is prosperous, healthy, full of resorts, etc. Haiti is in desperate poverty. Same island.
Because there are no living Haitians to confirm their country’s alleged past pact with the devil it is difficult to corroborate or dispute Robertson’s statement.
Please indulge me for a few moments while I kick it seriously with you, ladies and gents.
One of the prime reasons that Haiti sits on the bottom of the economic pyramid in the Western Hemisphere is because they lack basic commodities of value that they can sell and they rarely take advantage of any opportunities that may be occasionally available to them. However, the most visible commodity exported from the Dominican Republic is baseball players.
There was an article published on CBS-sports.com titled “Baseball: a Dominican cash crop.”It said “In this impoverished country the single-minded dedication to sports has paid off for many like native Dominican Sammy Sosa and Dominican-American Alex Rodriguez.
“There are a lot of things we don’t produce in this corner of the Caribbean,” said Enrique Emilio Cordova, a local baseball historian. “We don’t produce much grain, we don’t have much industry. But every year we have a harvest of excellent ball players.” Dominicans outnumber any nationality other than U.S. citizens in the Major League system. Baseball not only is the national pastime, it’s an important bragging point, a crucial economic activity and a strong component of Dominican nationalism.”
“The government is strongly linked to the sport of baseball,” said Cesar Cedeno, the cabinet-level secretary of sports. “What our baseball stars do to uphold and promote the country’s image, if we had to pay for that, the price would be immeasurable.”
Have the Dominicans sold their soul to the devil so that a few of their young men can become rich and prosperous?
Why aren’t more Black athletes giving back more of their time and money to urban America and why aren’t they trying to create and maintain positive public images as opposed to shooting themselves, and bringing guns into locker rooms?
In 2009-2010 the collective payroll of the NFL was more than $6 billion (CBS sports.com). The percentage of Black athletes in the league in the last few years has hovered around 75 percent. Based on the number of players in the league and their salaries, theoretically at least Black players should reap around $4.5 billion of the windfall. If they put just 10 percent of those dollars back into the community, our inner cities could possibly benefit to the tune of between $250-300 million. I don’t even want to get into the salaries of Black players in the NBA and MLB. We do not have enough space here.
On Dec. 31, 1972 Pittsburgh Pirates outfielder the late, great Roberto Clemente, died in a plane crash in route to deliver supplies to earthquake victims in Nicaragua. His body was never recovered but he died honorably attempting to help others.
In times of need Black athletes and Black people must get up, put up and shut up. We must stop being the borrowers and become the lenders because the best commodity that we have to offer to the world is ourselves.
(Aubrey Bruce can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.)