The estimable Jon Chait continues to fill the pages of New York Magazine with perspectives gleaned from his love of UM basketball (and he also is a devoted football fan). Check out his last two posts:
Chait Strikes Again
great reads. i knew chait's brother. very nice guy.
That first one is BS.
The "White Guy Telling White People What White People Don't See" is silly to begin with.
And furthermore, his example simply isn't true. Jordan Morgan was constantly praised for being a gritty and intelligent overacheiver by announcers, commentators and writers.
The real difference for the treatment of the two is that Novak was the unquestioned leader of a team that drastically overacheived despite his physical deficiencies, while Jordan Morgan is splitting time as a role player.
If Morgan was oft-bloodied, always yelling, and played 35 minutes a game, it might be a different story.
Wow. You have no idea how important Jordan Morgan is to this team.
I'm aware he is important, but he is about as important as somebody who averages 20 minutes a game can be.
And that is less important than what Novak, who averaged about 35 minutes a game his jr and sr years, was.
Jordan Morgan is half white (his mom is white). I have no idea what you're talking about, but I'm just throwing that out there.
Nobody refers to JMo's grittiness or his underwhelminbg recruiting. They occasionally mention his Engineering degree, but if JMo were white, the announcers would drool over him.
is completely true. They would contantly be talking abou his leadership and effort and what an amazing "glue" guy he is. Instead, people talk about how he "can't play above the rim".
Watched a lot of games and heard commentators refer to how much of a communicator and defensive glue Morgan is a lot more than they talked about how he "can't play above the rim".
And Morgan is an overacheiver and a great contributor, but he isn't as gritty and isn't the leader that Novak was.
I never said anything about Jordan Morgan's race.
I only compared the two players. Didn't really make a comment on racism.
Unless you are referring to my opinion that Chait shouldn't be annointing himself the authority to tell white people they are racist, to which, meh...
This was exactly my thought. I think Chait brings up fair points, and I think there's some merit to his thesis, but you have to consider the roles that Novak and Morgan have played. Novak was a critical part of his teams, and really was one of the cornerstones in the resurgence of Michigan basketball. In other words, he got a lot of attention because he was really the main guy for Michigan at his time - he was a vocal leader and was a bigger part of the Michigan teams.
Morgan, while certainly an integral part of the team, has been largely overshadowed by other players in his career. Novak, Burke, Hardaway, and now Stauskas, Robinson, Levert, and McGary. He's not a vocal leader, so he's not seen as public a representation of the team in the same way Novak was.
I don't say this to discount or disparage Morgan as a player - I am extremely grateful for the time and effort that he's put in to make Michigan what it is now - but I just don't think he has had the same level of importance as Novak had. So I agree that they are similar players and have many of the same qualities, but I think Novak's importance to his team, as well as his outspoken nature, made it easier for people to focus on him.
my read was more like "okay, there's this undersized guy who came in a little pudgy, without a huge amount of hype or natural talent who worked really hard to turn himself into a valuable player / team captain. plus he's an engineering student. so what color is he?" i think that chait's point is that, based on the description, most of us would assume that he's a white guy. that's not bad, per se, it just is. we all have inherent biases or presumptions, and recognizing when we have them is probably a good thing.
i shouldn't speak for mr. chait, but that's what resonated with me.
Wow that is an incredibly racist article
The thing about racial discourse in America today is, it's almost possible to mention race in any context without someone calling you a racist. It's unavoidable for the simple reason that for many people, "being aware that race exists" = racism. These people are Idealists, and having for a long time been one of them, I really wish their ideal were reality. (Growing up in Ann Arbor where the races of my friends didn't correlate to anything other than their last names made it easy to believe I was living in a post-racial America. Moving to Oakland rapidly disabused me of that notion.) But unfortunately, racism does still exist. Occasionally blatantly, but much more often in a sort of subtle setting of expectations or perceptions of exactly the type Chait discusses in these articles. If we ever want to move past racism, not just legally but actually, then we need to be able to talk openly about those situations in which none of us are trying to be racist, none of us even realize we're being racist, and yet we're falling prey to unconscious biases that are the diluted but not yet eliminated residual of our racially polarized history.
It's a catch-22: we can't overcome racism if we can't talk about racism, but we can't talk about racism without being racist. And so I'd posit that your statement "that is an incredibly racist article" is completely true, and completely beside the point. Calling it "racist" to point out that something might have a subtle racial bias doesn't prove that we live in a post-racial America. It simply suppresses the conversation, thereby preserving the not-actually-post-racial status quo.
that "race" doesn't exist, except as a social designation. We can talk about racism without being racist, but we can't refer to race as a phyical fact without being racist. Frankly, I never even thought about Morgan's "race," or Craft's, until these articles came up. Who really cares about "race" these days, anyway? I seem to recall people referring to Trey Burke as a "gritty" player, but it is unclear to me which "race" this made him.
Agreed that race is purely a social construct, but I'm not sure that affirming that race is purely a social construct will protect us from someone calling this thread 'racist.'
I'm happy to hear that Morgan's "race," or Craft's, never crossed your conscious mind. Maybe it never crossed your unconscious mind, either; that would be even better. The point of Chait's argument, as I understand it, is not that journalists and media talking heads are consciously thinking about Morgan's or Craft's "race" either. The point is that they may nevertheless have absorbed some unconscious biases that are reflected in the way that they discuss these two players.
No one (I guess I shouldn't say 'no one,' but you get my point) wants to be racist. Chait's article is meant to remind us that sometimes we might accidentally be just a little bit racist, even without meaning to, even without realizing it, because of biases that we've unintentionally absorbed.
Racism isn't a binary thing that you do or do not participate in. I find a claim that someone is "0 % racist" to be uncredible [and I'm not putting those words in your mouth, just to be clear]. Chait's article strikes me as a part of a conversation on how to go from being 3% racist to being 1% racist (these numbers are obviously arbitrary), by recognizing where that 3% shows up even when we don't mean for it to. Maybe some of us can honestly say that we've never consciously thought about Morgan or Craft in terms of "race." But that doesn't mean it's not a good idea for us to check ourselves to make sure we're not nevertheless guilty of having absorbed or even parroted, unconsciously, some ideas about basketball players that do have race-related elements.
He's not to thrilled with Nate Silver's assessment of MSU tourny projections either, another good one. Izzo dummy variable made me chuckle.
I coached my son's basketball team this season. We had one Hispanic kid, one half-white/half-black, one half white/half-Chinese, one Japanese kid, and four white kids. Sports brought those kids from different ethnic backgrounds together. They all became friends by the end of the season.
On the other side, we have articles like this that try to use race to divide us. I find that repulsive.
The article is not using race to divide us.
Why can't we talk about race? It's an important subject to discuss civily.
Question: If Nik Stauskas was black, would you have heard "Not just a shooter" as much as you did last year?
It's a fair question that can help us discern how we take race into account in our everyday lives, even if subconciously.
I follow the NBA draft a lot, and the number of times I've seen Stauskas compared to JJ Redick is mind-boggling. They're both white and shoot three-pointers... that's about it on their similarities.
Yep, they're very dissimilar players.
How often is a white NFL player compared to another white player? Given the sport's demographics, an insane amount. It may be subconcious, but to ignore it is being a little ignorant.
when Chait writes,
So you have to ask what about Craft makes him the vessel for such unusual admiration. The answer is pretty clear.
the insinuation is that it's only because he's white. This ignores the fact that Craft leads the Big Ten in career steals and is second in career assists since '97-98. That's a pretty impressive accomplishment, regardless of his skin color. Why am I defending Aaron Craft?!?
Yes, that's the insinuation. And I think it's true.
Is it racist of me to think that if Aaron Craft was black that he wouldn't be as much of a media darling?
Brian put it very well the other day - the inflated praise on Craft is unfortunate because he is a good player. However, the level of praise he receives does not equal his level of play. He's a role player. The guard-version of Ben Wallace. He's excellent at one thing and mediocre at many others.
We know how he would be treated if he was black. Because black Aaron Craft is on Ohio State too, and his name is Shannon Scott. Praised as a nice player, a great defender, but not slobbered over every minute of every game by every announcer.
He would be Mateen Cleaves. There careers are remarkably similar, and I can assure you, the media fawned over Mateen and the Flintstones.
In his junior year, Sparty made it to the final four, and in his senior year, they won the championship. Point guards on championship teams always get the love. Craft got to the elite 8 last year and umm... Not very far this year. Sparty had better regular seasons in their respective junior and senior years too -- #1 seeds in his final two years. Can't know for sure, but if MSU performed from 1998-2000 like OSU did these past couple years (a good team, but nothing special) I doubt Cleeves would have been given as much love as he was back then. And I know if OSU had done more, I'd at least understand the Craft love.
Mateen was twice Big Ten player of the year and three times first or second team All-American.
Compare their stats
Cleaves: 12.5 ppg, 6.6 apg, 1.6 spg, 2.1 RPGs
Craft: 8.9 ppg, 4.7 apg, 2.3 spg, 3.3 RPGs
So Mateen scored and assisted more, but Craft got more steals and rebounds
Mateen only played more than 30 games once
Craft always played at least 35 games
Mateen had better jr and sr seasons, Craft had better frost and soph seasons
I don't find much difference between them
Craft (honorable mention all Big-Ten) had a better sophomore year than Cleaves (2nd team consensus All-American). Cleaves may have been a two time Big Ten player of the year and three-time All-American, but those were only decided by votes.
Cleaves only played more than 30 games once. That's quite an indictment of his durability. Of course MSU only played 29 and 30 games his first two seasons. Maybe your point was Craft played more games because of OSU's longer tournament runs.
Craft's 1.1 extra rpg (a key stat for PGs) and 0.7 spg are big. Can't argue with that.
We've seen the answer this year. Irvin IS just a shooter (at least for now, on this year's team). That's pretty much all he does. He's almost allergic to driving the ball. Compared to him last year, Stauskas was practically Magic Johnson. Yet almost no one ever refers to Irvin as a "shooting specialist". I wonder why that is?
I'm pretty sure he is practically always referred to in that or a similar manner.
My biggest problem with the Novak article is the last part:
White people simply have certain preconceptions, and preconceptions make you see the things you expect to see and miss the things you don’t.
How nice of him that he's able to categorize/stereotype all white people. While we may have preconceptions, only an idiot clings to those preconceptions after having 4 seasons worth of data to open our eyes.
In chaits defense, stereotypes are a real time saver.
Believe I saw that on some Onion paraphernalia.
Haven't read the article but I bet if you switched white for black in this article it would come across as incredibly racist.
Jonathan Chait is a white person. And he certainly has some preconceptions/stereotypes about what other people think.
I hope all you white people feel guilty now for being white. That was the point right?
I didn't watch the game, is that line about Craft's angelic face something a commentator actually said??
Angelic countenance was the specific phrase used I believed. Yeah so it's good they lost that one.
...since I was trying to make the point in another thread a week ago, in this thread, that opposing fans devoted special hatred to opponents' "white guys." (Anybody think that Chait was reading that?!?)
So the Buckeyes reserve special hatred for Stauskas, and also for McGary and even the benchwarmers including Andrew Dakich. You needed only go to the Buckeye blogs for your evidence.
And my posting occurred in the thread where the MGoBoard was lighting up with special ridicule (including a pictgorial entry from Stauskas' girlfriend) of Aaron Craft.
These theories may not be mutually exclusive. That is, sportscasters and writers and perhaps the home fans find all sorts of extra reasons to adore their own Crafts, their own Stauskases, their own Zach Novaks, and Scotty Skiles, etc., etc. And meanwhile the rival fans reserve special hatred for the opposing white guys. Ditto all of those names.
People hate players on their rivals who the media hypes beyond reason. Frequently, if you buy what Chait's selling, those guys will be white dudes. Thus white players on rivals get hated. Ultimately it's that sports fans recognize that the mass media is really, really stupid, but misdirect that hate onto their rivals and the subjects of the media's stupidity.
See also: Tebow, Tim.
this nails it. The fans get sick of the guys that the idiot announcers slobber all over even when they don't deserve it, and those guys disproportionately are white.
Will "Tom" Gholston
I could go on and on. In other words, you are wrong.
that Section 1's last act on MGoBlog was downvoting my post.
Great column. I love Staukas, but he's cocky. With the blown kisses after the win in E. Lansing and the goggles he'd have fit in fine among the fab five. None of that gets mentioned much in articles about. I do think that Jordan's grittiness gets acknowledged in the local media.
What's wrong with being cocky? This is the exact thing I hate: Old white guys who focus on image too damn much. Stauskas is having fun while he plays, and I don't think he's crossed the line. I guess you want everyone to play sports like they're puritans......
Nothing wrong with being cocky but the Fab Five was vilified for it
Aaron Craft isn't lauded because he's white. He's lauded for the following:
- First team All-Big Ten (Media) (2013)
- Second team All-Big Ten (Coaches) (2013)
- 2× Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year (2012 & 2014)
- Third team All-Big Ten (Media) (2012)
- Big Ten Tournament MVP (2013)
- 2× Academic All-American of the Year (2013–2014)
- 3× First Team Academic All-American (2012–2014)
- Elite 89 Award (2012)
- All-Big Ten Defensive team (2011, 2012, 2013)
- All-Big Ten Freshman team (2011)
Sorry, I love Jordan Morgan, but that's not Jordan Morgan. Craft has had a great career, much better than most players in NCAA, regardless of his race. They talked about Bracey Wright in a similar way. The thing Chait does is write in a way that makes you think that Craft is getting unusual praise when in reality he's not getting any more praise than any other star player from a traditional powerhouse school.
That being said, the "angelic countenance" was totally absurd.
Uh, you do realize that most of those awards were given to him by the same media that everyone is bashing for overrating Craft in the first place? You can't really claim a player isn't overrated by using the exact same people who overate him in the first place as evidence.
2013 all big ten - 1st team media, 2nd team coaches
2012 all big ten - 3rd team media
You think that the media is making this average player into a superstar? The guys played 32 mins a game on a good Big Ten Program for years. The guy led his team to the Elite 8 last year and has set NCAA records for defense. His teams have competed for Big Ten titles every year except this year. Is he overhyped? Sure. So is every other main player on every other major program.
Morgan has always been a great role player. He's up there with Stu and Novak as guys who laid the foundation. But, he's not Aaron Craft.
Craft gets all the accolades ...... and he's an average college point guard. Craft wouldn't even play for many coaches including Beilein.
Teams literally don't guard him because his shot is so awful. He has to pass the ball .... he can't shoot it.
I've been telling friends for last few weeks that we are going to miss Craft. I wish he could play for 8 more years.
Craft would be our starting point guard this year if he was at Michigan. He'd start on every Big Ten team, except maybe MSU. We've gotten a little spoiled if we think Craft wouldn't play at Michigan.
brandon inge called and said this whole idea is ridiculous.
My guess is that overhyped NCAAB players are disproportionally white. It would be interesting to get some data. I'd love to see:
- Who do fans think is overhyped in college ball? Does it change when you split out fans by race or gender?
- Do commentators vary on who they overhype when you split them by race?
It's a little tricky because most of the overhype characteristics - leadership, grit, toughness, character - are hard to measure, but I think you could still do some interesting work.
is all about the magic of John Beilein...
Chait is only writing in the mainstream what people have been saying in their livingrooms for decades.
I read this discussion and find myself wondering why Craft isn't referred to "as not just a shooter", and Stauskas isn't particularly lauded for his gritty winnerness.
Well, there is this
Yes, Aaron Craft belongs in the Ohio State pantheon