Mike Royko inspired my journalism career. He didn’t look like me or anyone in my family. Royko wrote a syndicated column for the Chicago Tribune. His columns, which harassed local politicians and ridiculed American presidents and celebrities, earned him the 1972 Pulitzer Prize for Commentary and Worldwide Recognition.
I wanted to be like Mike.
It didn’t matter that he was old, white and Polish and that I was young, black and fat. As a freshman at Ball State University in 1985, I switched my major to journalism with the goal of becoming the sports writer’s version of Mike Royko.
Its pillars wobbled. I discovered her around the age of 12 while reading the Indianapolis News, my hometown’s afternoon paper. The news ran two Royko columns a week. I never missed her. They made me laugh. You upset me. You have broadened my view of the world.
I wanted to be like Mike.
I was thinking of Royko on Thursday when a clip of Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Todd Bowles went viral. Reporters showered Bowles with questions about his upcoming duel with Pittsburgh head coach Mike Tomlin. Bowles and Tomlin are both black. Corporate media believe Tomlin and Bowles’ clash has additional meaning due to their shared dark skin. Bowles turned down the idea.
“I have a very good relationship with Tomlin,” he said. “We don’t pay attention to the color of our skin when we train against each other. I have a lot of very good white friends who also train in this league.”
Dissatisfied with his response, another reporter told Bowles, “You also understand that representation matters too, don’t you? And when aspiring coaches or even football players see you, they see someone who looks like them, who grew up like them, it must mean something.”
Bowles also rejected this notion. He argued that the question made black coaches appear “crazy.”
“I think the moment you guys stop making a big deal out of it, everyone else will too,” he said.
37 years ago I set out to be the next Mike Royko. It never occurred to me that I couldn’t do it because of the color of my skin or Royko’s. I saw a man with phenomenal success in an industry I wanted to enter. I thought I could too.
What has changed in the last four decades?
Barack Obama wanted to be President of the United States. Did he have to see another half-black man become president before he realized he could do it?
You know what’s more important than “representation”? Believe in yourself. The basis of self-confidence, also known as self-confidence, is belief in God, belief that you are made in God’s image. Skin color loses relevance when you authentically believe that we were all created by the same higher power.
The secular world view undermines self-confidence. It reduces people to skin color, gender, and sexual preference.
Todd Bowles wants to be the next Bill Belichick, the most successful coach in NFL history. That should be the goal of every NFL coach. Bowles doesn’t want to be the best black head coach. He wants to be the best. He believes he can be the best.
The reporter who tells Bowles that black coaches “grew up like everyone else” is naive and foolish. She has no idea if Tomlin and Bowles had similar childhood experiences. It’s all speculation driven by the assumption that black Americans share a common upbringing.
My college roommate, Todd Finnell, grew up in the home owned by his college-educated parents. I grew up in apartments. My parents divorced when I was 5 years old. My father did not graduate from high school. My mother was a factory worker. He grew up Catholic. I grew up Baptist. He attended a private high school. I attended a public high school.
We were roommates at Ball State for five years. He’s like a brother to me.
I had more in common with Mike Royko. Royko’s family owned a neighborhood bar in Chicago that catered to white factory workers. Royko lived in an apartment above the bar. He grew up on a bar stool. My father owned a neighborhood bar that served factory workers. I grew up on a barstool listening to working-class black men and women socialize.
It wasn’t until he died in 1997 that I realized how similar my upbringing was to Royko’s. When he died I started collecting his books and a lot of the things that were written about his life and career.
Skin color is a superficial topic that the corporate media wants us to obsess over. The media directs us away from the deeper things that connect us.
It was inspiring to see Todd Bowles reject the racial manipulation that is commonplace in corporate media. Most people just instinctively tell reporters what they want to hear. Let’s hope Bowles doesn’t get penalized for not following the script.
https://www.theblaze.com/fearless/oped/whitlock-tampa-coach-todd-bowles-rejects-medias-racial-script Whitlock: Tampa coach Todd Bowles dismisses media’s racist script