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February 24, 3:00 PM ET
Chat with Bomani Jones

Bomani
  (3:01 PM)

beautiful people, good afternoon. glad to be here. i think i'm scheduled for 15 minutes, but i'll probably to be able to go longer, should that be necessary. leggggo...

Keith (Raleigh)

I read your dream vs. reality black history piece and I like how you stand up for the student athlete. Do you think the NCAA will ever figure out how to address this?

Bomani
  (3:03 PM)

I haven't seen much to indicate the NCAA cares that much about standing up for student-athletes, so I don't think they're going to address it. At the same time, I'm not sure how equipped such an understaffed organization -- it was a HUGE deal when the gambling/amateurism division went up to something like EIGHT -- is for sweeping changes that, in their mind, will create the need for even more oversight.

Brandon (Greenbelt)

Hey Bo! I am a big fan of your show. I was just wondering why do you think most fans refuse to believe that race plays a vital role in how some atheletes are characterized through sports journalism/broadcast? And how do we improve that going forward?

Bomani
  (3:07 PM)

Because doing so requires people to consider whether their views are molded by biases. So, let's say someone says that the reaction to "The Decision" was colored by race. Let's also say that you were a person that didn't like the decision. People have a tendency to hear someone like me say race was a factor in the backlash and instantly feel the need to defend themselves.It's ridiculous, except it's not. We tell everyone that racism is wrong, but then we don't actually educate people about it. So folks believe themselves not to be racist, or believe they are above letting race influence them. If that's the case, we all need to get the racism repellent they're wearing. We all grew up in this. We're all susceptible to it. The difference between the good people and bad is the willingness to confront the racism, because none of us are capable of completely stopping it from seeping into our thought processes.

Kevin (LA)

Bo, don't take these comments the wrong way, but shouldn't we do away with Black History Month? I don't mean to say that we forget it, but shouldn't Black History Month basically be a part of what we teach in American History class?

Bomani
  (3:10 PM)

The problem with that is assuming that eliminating Black History Month would mean that information would be included in the general education of our country, and I don't see any reason to think that. I believe most people when they say they'd love to know more, and I am not in favor of discarding any opportunity to educate people. Look, I had a boss once go to the King Center and check out the lynching exhibit and tell me that, until that day, he had no idea why there was an MLK holiday in the first place. He was a good man, and an educated one. He really had no idea. So, to answer that -- I think we need to hit Black History Month harder, not try to marginalize it as an unnecessary relic. It is anything but.

Larry (Chicago)

If Dr. King was alive today, would he fight for athletes being exploited by the NCAA?

Bomani
  (3:12 PM)

Absolutely. King's organization, the SCLC, was concerned with the issues of the poor and black in the South, but I don't think King's philosophy was racially specific. He was an advocate of the working man, and that's exactly what college athletes are. He was a proponent of equal access to education, which many college athletes are deprived of before they get to college and once they're enrolled. The college athlete is almost a textbook example of who Martin Luther King the man, not Martin Luther King the head of an organization, would fight for.

Kevin (LA)

I think that's kind of part of my point. Shouldn't Black History Month be more than just a month? It should be incorporated more into what we do, learn, etc. Unless you're studying the subject constantly, it seems like the only time it gets studied is during February.

Bomani
  (3:13 PM)

Of course it should. That said, getting rid of Black History Month isn't going to change the root problem, which is the general difficulty many have with viewing black life and black history and totally American.

Nick Hamilton (L.A.)

If we had REAL leadership in the black community, how much of an effect would it have on these athletes today as far as image & them taking responsibility for themselves?

Bomani
  (3:15 PM)

To be honest, I've never understood what "the black community" is, and who exactly is supposed to be qualified to "lead" a group of people with only skin color and the associated phenomena that went along with it.

Mike (Ohio)

Any comment on Doug Williams returning to Grambling? He seems like a natural there to me

Bomani
  (3:16 PM)

Yeah, but he's already done that. I don't know Doug, nor am I sourced on him going back to Grambling, but I know he wants to be an NFL general manager and did not think that would happen in Tampa.

David (Bristol CT)

What is your take on guys like Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton? These guys to me seem to be more divisive than anything else

Bomani
  (3:17 PM)

Maybe, but why are they divisive? I hear people say that, but is the division they purportedly cause their fault? Or the fault of those that would prefer not to listen to them? Take Jesse, for example. He said that Dan Gilbert talked about LeBron like a piece of property, which was absolutely true (search Bomani and OTL for more on that). People got up in arms. So why would that be Jesse's fault? Worth considering.

Bomani
  (3:18 PM)

We're past the 15, but I'm not doing anything else. I'll roll with a few more.

BigIke06 (Raleigh)

Bo what are your thought on the role of HBCU's in todays society? Do you see them being significant in college sports again?

Bomani
  (3:20 PM)

I wrote on this a few years ago. The question: how could HBCU's, given their disparities in resources, attract top notch talent? In the '50s and '60s, when the best football in America was played at HBCU's, they had a virtual monopoly on top notch black talent, only really competing with the Big Ten for players. Then, after integration, what did HBCU's have to offer top recruits other than atmosphere? Well, now these kids aren't so much students as they are football players, and a football player is going to go where they can play football best. Unless something drastically changes on an institutional level, that won't be at an HBCU.

barry (chicago)

How would the reaction to Ben Roethlisberger be if he was black? That is a better example of inherent racism or bias than Lebron's treatment after the decision.

Bomani
  (3:22 PM)

Nothing bores me more than the "what if he was black?" game. It's also worth noting that, while some television broadcast crews have been far kinder to Roethlisberger than they are NOW to Vince Young, I don't feel like he's beloved or has been absolved for what he did or didn't do. Would it have been worse, the reaction, were he black? Probably. But my granny...glad we're not playing the "if" game with her.

Elizabeth (Arlington, VA)

You kind of hit on this with Nick but how do you think we can begin to get America as a whole to realize the value and importance of Black History to ALL of us?

Bomani
  (3:23 PM)

If the "we" you refer to is black people, nothing at all. There's a wealth of history to indicate that. The optimist in me, however, thinks a time will come when this won't be an issue. After all, if all the well-meaning things people say about themselves are true, then it shouldn't be an issue. You well-meaning people reading this?

Michael (Silver Spring)

Bomani, I was watching NBA tv last night and was appaled that they had a segment dedicated to the first minority owner, Bob Johnson. Can you think of any NBA icons who would be more deserving?

Bomani
  (3:25 PM)

I can't think of a single positive thing to say about Bob Johnson. Getting rich doesn't get you much dap from me.

DES (Brooklyn)

The NBA seems focused to put a business model in place that will not only make the league competitive as a whole but profitable for all owners. I think the best way to do that would be to change the NBA draft by adding more rounds and guaranteeing more slots so that the loosing teams can acquire more talent that way. Mostly all the great NBA players have come through the draft. Would you agree with this or do you think the NBA has started to devalue the Draft because the talent pool is so limited?

Bomani
  (3:25 PM)

off topic, but LIMITED TALENT POOL????? Further, should you think the pool is limited, why in the world would you add more rounds? To get more sorry players? This doesn't make any sense.

Gray (Charlotte)

Why in your opinion does the proverbial fall from grace for the black athlete garner so much ridicule, mockery and sometimes hate in media today

Bomani
  (3:26 PM)

Same reason Brett Favre's fall generated much of the same: humans tend to be insecure and resentful. For now, I'll stop there -- at least in a racial context -- because it means getting academic in a way that will certainly be misunderstood.

Steve (NYC)

Do you think that we have an honest and open discussion about race in this country? It seems like any race discussion always ends in the same way - with someone getting called a racist, whether he's black or white. I can't imagine we'll make any progress in this area if we can't have a rational, open and respectful dialogue.

Bomani
  (3:27 PM)

Not even close to open, because we don't know anything about race. That's across the board, no matter what race of people we're talking about. Race is really, really complex, and I don't think most people care enough to pick up everything they need to know to truly get what's going on.

Bomani
  (3:29 PM)

OK, it's been real, it's been fun...take it easy. And should you enjoy seeing my face be one quarter of a television screen, check out Around the Horn today. I'll be there chillin and stuff.