Rarely do I read Fox Sports’ most popular writer, Jason Whitlock because I already know what to expect – trolling of the highest order. But this time, I fell into the trap after I saw my twitter timeline ablaze with discussion about Whitlock’s article regarding Jay Z’s new sports venture. In the article, Whitlock immediately launches into one of the most ridiculous positions I’ve seen anyone take on anything. I couldn’t resist writing a response.
If you don’t know by now, Magna Carta Holy Grail rapper and father of Blue Ivy, Shawn Carter has started Roc Nation Sports through a partnership with existing sports powerhouse Creative Artists Agency. Mr. Carter has stated that he plans to make Roc Nation Sports a full service sports agency and has already signed Oklahoma Thunder superstar Kevin Durant and New York Giants Superbowl Champ Victor Cruz to the company’s roster. Only a few months into the official launch, Jay Z has already raised skepticism from his new peers as well as the NFL’s Player Association. Nonetheless, he still looks poised to be a key player in the sports game.
Whitlock’s issue with Jay Z isn’t about his proposed methods, rather, it's a personal gripe about the type of music Jay Z makes and his belief that the rapper's “values” aren’t up to snuff. Both of these arguments rub me the wrong way but the latter statement is what really inspired me to put pen to paper on this. The whole idea that that a sports league should be scrubbed of the very culture of its players is offensive and a view held by too many. It’s the very same attitude that drove David Stern to implement a dress code. It’s also the very same perspective that clouds the way Black athletes and Black people in general are portrayed in the press and viewed by the public.
And what, exactly, are these values that hip-hop promotes that are not up to the standards of the sports leagues? The same leagues that conspire to implement collective bargaining agreements that can cheat players out of deserved revenues or undertake tactics to force tax payers’ hands to pay for arenas and stadiums they can’t afford? Sports leagues have their own ethical issues that cannot be blamed on rap music. Why should Jay Z or any one party in sports be subject to some sort of morality test that team owners and league executives are not?
Whether or not Jay Z has the chops to run a successful sports business remains to be seen and certainly there are plenty of reasons to doubt his abilities. Jay Z doesn’t have the best track record when it comes to marketing anyone besides himself. Even his wife Beyonce, whose star power has been long established, has struggled to build consistency since dropping her father as manager and signing with Roc Nation. As head of Def Jam, Jay Z’s record was spotty and many speculated as to whether he was anything more than a figurehead.
None of this means that Jay Z can’t staff Roc Nation Sports with a crew that takes full service sports marketing to a new level. But it does mean there are plenty of reasons to questions Jay’s foray into sports without indicting an entire musical genre. Whitlock shouldn’t confuse a personal discomfort with profane rap music with a legitimate sports business critique.
Jessica Danielle is a professional speechwriter and blogger who covers sports with wit and ardor at Playerperspective.com.