The Dallas-Fort Worth Association of Black Journalists recently hosted the sports forum, "Fair or Foul: How the Media Portrays the Black Athlete," at the beautiful Harwood 609 Restaurant and Jazz Club, 609 North Harwood Street in Downtown Dallas. Kicking off a week of activities surrounding the NBA All-Star Game, the discussion ranged from Tiger Woods’ infidelities off the course and Serena Williams’ tiff during a match to Gilbert Arenas’ bringing guns into the Washington Wizards locker room and the womanizing antics of some athletes. The impressive panel, that was moderated by the dynamic former WNBAer Fran Harris, featured sports journalists KKDA's Chris Arnold, Fort Worth Star-Telegram senior writer Clarence Hill, 411 Sports & Entertainment Publisher Cedric Lyons, Dallas Weekly sports writer LaToya Hardaway, The Home Team DFW's Channing Curtis, and businessman and freelance journalist Thom Bailey, along with Dr. Murray Fortner, chair of the sociology/psychology department at Tarrant County College. Of course the discussion got heated at times, but it was really engaging. Here are some of the high points from panelists: Moderator Harris: “Is Tiger Woods sick or is he a ho?” Chris Arnold: “He’s a sick ho!” Cedric Lyons: “He’s being what all men are.” Clarence Hill: “Tiger is a victim of his own image.” Chris Arnold: “The reason you haven’t seen him was because Tiger had to heal.” Chris also talked about how Tiger’s wife caused physical damage to him. Moderator Harris: “What do you think about Tiger going to a clinic?” Channing Curtis: “No clinic is going to heal what Tiger Woods has.”
Latoya Hardaway: "It was a PR move to go to a clinic.” Chris Arnold said athletes are taking jobs from journalists. Chris had message for the journalism students in attendance--”you have to be a writer.” Stupid decisions made by athletes provided fodder for a very engaging discussion that resulted in a number of names and indiscretions being shared and dissected. When A former Dallas Cowboy name was mentioned, Clarence Hill said “we don't know if Mike Irvin is guilty or innocent.” Thom Bailey said he is tired of the tattoos on athletes Latoya said the media put these athletes on pedestals. Fran Harris asked if male athletes could keep “it” in? Interestingly when it came time to name Black male athletes who were not cheating on their wives or girlfriends, two names came up: Doug Christie and A.C. Green. Dr. Fortner discussed the celebrity mindset, saying that celebrity is a culture as he explained why media execs are using athletes as sports commentators and broadcasters. He also said athletes are not learning from the past transgressions of others. Everyone agreed that the coverage of Serena and Venus Williams is wrong and not fair. I don’t want to give everything up. In the near future we will have the taping of the panel discussion at www.dfwabj.org. Stay tuned.