Sports and Hip Hop Blend
Having more than skills...
by Barry Ward
Washington Redskins punt returner Brandon Banks nearly cost his team six points when he almost lost possession of the football as he made a 95-yard run to the end zone in the Sept. 1 preseason game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
As Banks barreled down the field it seemed as if he released the football from his hand at the goal line before hitting the end zone.
After reviewing the videotape, the referees determined that the ball was still in Banks' possession when he crossed the goal line.
Although the score remained and Washington went on to beat Tampa Bay 29-24, Banks' action didn't sit well with sports commentator Joe Theismann.
"Is it so hard, at this day and age, to run the ball into the end zone?" opined Theismann as referees reviewed the tape. "I mean, I don't think football has changed that much where you don't want to score touchdowns. It's so simple. You know, that's fine. Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee, make sure you've got the ball in your hands or else you won't get a TD. If you run around and hand it to an official you don't have to worry about something like this. It's stupid. It's stupid hot-dogging."
But maybe it was adding some show business flare to the game.
For years football players have celebrated their touchdowns by dancing in the end zone.
Deion Sanders helped pioneer the semi-art form, while players like Randy Moss, Chad Ochocinco and Terrell Owens took it to another level with moves that seemed more choreographed than improvised.
Critics of end zone dancing have accused hip-hop's influence on sports as the main reason for touchdown celebrations.
Some have argued that the braggadocio found in many rap songs encourages a behavior that certain people view as self-serving or feeding one's ego.
But rarely do you hear comments that accept these jovial acts for what they are, entertainment.
In Theismann's critique of Banks' actions he quoted Muhammad Ali's "float like a butterfly, sting like a bee."
Well Ali is perhaps the most famous figure in boxing and one of the most recognizable athletes in the world.
One of the reasons for that is Ali brought theater to boxing by predicting when he would knock his opponent out, and boasting how handsome and great of a boxer he was.
Ali's boasts attracted an audience to boxing that never paid it any attention, which in turn helped make the sport into a multi-million dollar industry.
The same is probably true with the NFL.
Dancing wide receivers and punt returners may be bringing in new fans whose major form of entertainment is "So You Think You Can Dance" or reruns of "Soul Train."
People should not find it a coincidence that the level of popularity for the NFL and almost every major sport increased with the advent of television.
Broadcasting football games on the tube allowed people who probably would never be able to attend a professional sporting event in person to finally see their favorite teams and athletes play.
The medium also presented the opportunity to attract fans that would have never watched a football game, and to get those kinds of folks you need a little more than just great athleticism.
Kool Moe Dee once said in a battle, Rakim would beat Big Daddy Kane on record, but Kane would win in concert.
Moe Dee said that's because Kane was more of a showman than Rakim thanks to his dance moves.
Moe Dee said when you're performing in front of people who paid $30 for a ticket you must have more than great skills on the mic.
Hip Hop's distant cousin: Wrestling
"Sneakers on my Feet"