Tag Archives: youthnoise

Body By The Magazine?

11 Jun

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From YouthNoise.com

What’s the best way to compete against a widely popular sports magazine that showcases half naked bodies (eh-hem Sports Illustrated)?  Showcase female and male athletes engaging in a sporting activity while in the nude and call it the “Body Issue.”

Simple enough, I guess.

This idea appears to be the marketing strategy for ESPN’s The Magazine with its first “Body Issue” hitting newsstands this fall.  No doubt The Magazine will be competing with one of the most successful sports magazine on the shelf.  So while it might seem like a competitive ploy to feature naked athletes for profits and perhaps bragging rights over SI, The Magazine’s editor Gary Belsky insists that “The magazine won’t do anything that would compromise ESPN and Disney brands [The Magazine’s parent company].”

The idea, see, is to “use equipment and pads . . . to obscure body parts” so that, in the very least, the photos won’t tread soft porn territory.

Well, call me curious Georgia then because a gal like me is eager to see how the editors and photographers might strategically place a basketball on, say, a body like Dwight Howard’s.  Yaozahs!

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There’s no arguing that back when humans were throwing rocks as shot puts, athletic bodies were, in and of themselves, considered masterpieces of art.  Dodai over a Jezebel, points out that the Ancient Greeks participated in sport while nude (although, while men might have participated in sports, it’s been noted that women were forbidden to compete in the ancient Olympics and if they did ‘play’ a sport they might’ve worn something like this).

But perhaps it’s not so much the idea of naked bodies gallivanting around while engaging in sport that’s shocking, but rather the titillation translating into profits that might rub folks the wrong way.

Only time will tell (October 19th, to be exact) if the “Body Issue” will prove to be a modern example of dignified art through sport or just another excuse to sneak a peak at Amanda Beard’s boobs.

Feature photo courtesy of ESPN “The Magazine”/Clint Clemens

Dancing To Smile

7 Apr

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Via YouthNoise.com

Hello kiddies!

So I’m packing up my LA apartment, getting ready to move to the NYC, and in all honesty today didn’t start off all that well.  Today, April 6th, is my dad’s birthday.  Some of you might know that my dad passed away in December so yeah, I wasn’t looking forward to today.

While I was packing up, I thought about Trina’s post awhile back that discussed how exercise can be one of the best ways to combat sadness.  I also thought about Ethan’s recent post on dancing for a good cause.  Then, I thought about how my dad would totally not dig me moping around on his b-day.  Being the jokester that he was, he always managed to find funniness in life and exploit the heck out of it!

So, this one’s dedicated to you dad, and to all the rest of you who might find yourself down in the dumps.  By far, the best exercise (and to some degree, sport) for good is of course a little shimmy shake – if not only for your health, certainly for a smile!

Enjoy!

Image courtesty of Dave77459 Flickr page.

Dad’s Dreams

23 Dec

From YouthNoise.

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When I mourn, I write.

My father dreamed of one day playing professional baseball – he almost did for the Cincinnati Reds, but they told him he was too short.  That was over fifty years ago.

My father also dreamed of one day having a family, and children to carry-on his legacy.  Of the two dreams, the latter happened, and is still happening.  Though he never got a shot at the majors, he proudly sported his love for the game each and every time the Cleveland Indians and Houston Astros came on television, or when his own children took to the court or turf.  Some dreams manifest differently and in ways we barely notice.  Yet still we dream.

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My father would always attend my volleyball, basketball, and track practices much to my dismay as a teenager without a clue.  During 8th grade, my teammates and I would always know when practice begun because we could smell the smoke coming from my dad’s tobacco pipe as he entered the stadium to watch us run our warm-up laps.

But dad wasn’t just a spectator; he was involved—All. Of. The. Time.  Many knew him as the “honorary coach,” serving as an official line judge during volleyball games and also serving as the official score keeper during basketball games and track meets.  Even when I was a 5th-grader playing AAU basketball, my dad jumped at the opportunity to coach my team when our head coach was out sick.  Incidentally, that was the only time I ever scored 34-points in a single game.

At times I’d get so annoyed at my dad simply because he was always there—no matter what.  I used to hope that one day he’d just forget and miss one of my practices so I could feel like one of the ‘normal’ kids whose parents never attended. And it wasn’t just with organized sports; my dad was there when I first learned how to ski—and when I almost fell off of a cliff.  He was there, along with my beautiful mother, when I first learned how to ride a bike. My entrance to sports and play came through my family, particularly the old gray-haired guy whose last name I proudly share.

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The last time my dad watched me play ball was this past February while competing during the Texas Woman’s University intramural basketball tournament.  Despite his weak condition, he wanted to be there to watch his twenty-seven-year-old-washed-up daughter play ball with young twenty-somethings.  “It’ll be just like old times,” he said, as if he really needed to convince me.  After playing two full twenty-minute halves and while gasping for air, my dad said to me “You still got it kid-o.”

Despite being terribly out of shape, I did well and held my own playing against folks ten years younger than me. I was glad dad could watch me play during my post-glory days.  Leaving the game, I opened the gymnasium door for him much like he used to do for me when I had gym bags hanging from both shoulders, and tennis shoes dangling from each hand.  I pushed him along through the parking lot in his wheelchair, and instead of dad driving me home from the game; I drove him home.  That was the last time dad saw me play.

Moving forward, I can better appreciate my father’s unshakable presence in my life, as an athlete, as a young woman, and as his daughter.  He was there because he knew—we all knew—that these moments wouldn’t last forever.

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This past Wednesday, December 17th 2008 at 9:40 p.m. (PST) my dad, in cahoots with God, decided it was time to transition.  Undoubtedly he’ll be met with great fan-fair on the Other Side as family and friends will welcome him with open arms.  While back here, I mourn the death of the greatest man I’ve ever known.  He’s great in my eyes not simply because he’s my father, or even because he almost became a Cincinnati Red.  He’s great because he always believed in the possibilities of people, especially when they—when I—didn’t believe in themselves.  He touched the hearts of many he encountered.  Everyone who knew him can recall a moment they shared with my dad that will forever remain because he was always there.

I was there this past Wednesday when my father took his final breath.  Just thinking about that moment while writing the words weighs on my heart.  I breathed with him up until the last breath.  We looked at each other for one final moment before the veil descended over his eyes.  When it was over I cried, I screamed, I fell to my knees.  I was hurt beyond repair.  Yet despite the agony of losing my father, at that moment we were still together.  Though my dad is no longer here to watch his daughter shoot (intramural) hoops or run (trot) a 100-meter-dash; I know he’s still around, still there watching from the stands, still talking out loud, still laughing, and yeah, probably still cursing.

My father’s dreams and legacy are being fulfilled at the price of his death in this life, a small price to pay when knowing that he will forever remain in the hearts of many, especially mine.

I love you daddy.  You can rest in peace now.  James Joseph Conley April 6, 1930 – December 17, 2008.

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[Before my father’s health took a serious turn for the worst, he always wanted to know how my writing was coming along and what I was writing “on the computer” – a.k.a. the Internet.  When I first joined YouthNoise my dad was always anxious to read my blogs.  This blog, of course, is dedicated to him.]

**Photos courtesy of The Conley Family – be cool and don’t redistribute these photos for consumption and/or inappropriate use.

Caught In Transformation: A Reflection on the 2008 Presidential Election and Athlete Activism

6 Nov

From YouthNoise.

I am still coming down from my high.  I simply cannot put into words this threshold moment. We are in the midst of transition as if being consumed by a giant wave.  Linear perspective has officially suspended.  We can’t quite comprehend this moment because we, as Natalie Portman’s character in Garden State says, are in it.

I blog for you today—the first day of the rest of our lives, and the day after we elected Barack Obama, the first man of color to the Presidency of the United States of America.

This victory means so much to millions of people in the United States and around the world.  The 2008 presidential election has inspired political activism full throttle, even among those apathetic professional athletes I tend to criticize.

William C. Rhoden of The New York Times just published an article today entitled “Obama Duplicates a ‘Joe Louis Moment'” referencing the culturally historic 1938 fight when Joe Louis, a black heavy weight boxer from Alabama, defeated German boxer Max Schmeling at Yankee Stadium.  Mind you, this heavy weight match occurred during one of the most turbulent times our country’s history, World War II.  Louis was herald as a national hero for the masses.  Like Rhoden describes it, “[Louis] was the first universally embraced black hero.”  The proof is documented on the streets of Harlem where upon thousands of African-Americans rejoiced, cheering on the Brown Bomber, the man of whom they considered a living legend.

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Harlem, 1938 celebrating Joe Louis’ victory.  Photo courtesy of www.blackhistoryyeverymonth.com

The election of Barack Obama to the United States Presidency is our generations’ Joe Louis moment.  He single-handedly ousted his political competitors who adhered to tired and raucous campaign tactics.  He breathed new life into american politics by reaching out to young people, white-raced people, poor people, and any other demographic you can think of with open arms.  He called upon all americans using new media technology, innovative grassroots organizing methods, and has coined a new twenty-first century message of hope and change that will undoubtedly solidify his legacy in the history books for generations to come.

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Chicago, 2008 celebrating Barack Obama’s victory.  Photo courtesy of www.oregonlive.com

The 2008 presidential election and the candidates (namely Barack Obama), have notably encouraged activism in the professional sports community.  Major W/NBA, NFL, and MLB players alike have been moved toward political activism in various ways.  From participating in voter registration drives to participating in PSA’s, it’s no doubt that athletes have collectively evolved beyond the Michael Jordan moments of political passivity.  Will this be a sweeping trend in the sports world?  Only time will tell.  After all, many pro athletes still want to protect their most precious interests, paid endorsements.  This summer during the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, Lebron James and the U.S.A basketball team quickly turned apathetic upon realizing that their professions could be compromised if they used the global sports stage to speak out politically.

Yet still, athletes like NBA player Grant Hill are optimistic.

“What’s interesting is that I’ve seen a lot of athletes lending their support — either way, for both candidates. Just seeing athletes playing more of a role in the political process is something we haven’t really seen for a while. I’ve seen athletes really coming out, lending their support, giving money, going to events, hosting fund-raisers. You really haven’t seen a lot of that in the last 20, 30 years.”

Rhoden believes that this year’s presidential race has “created a free space for activism without risk” for many athletes.  To think that we’ve actually reached a point in our country’s history where we are so hunger for change that even the most mainstreamed athletes feel compelled to do something.  If anything, we are confronting a pinnacle moment of new consciousness most desirable for those starving for revolutionary change.

This presidential campaign has been a long journey for me personally.  I’ve volunteered for campaigns in Texas, outreached for candidates in California, and got out the vote for young voters in Nevada.  I’ve come to that point where I’m emotionally overwhelmed while experiencing an internal quietness at the same time.  It’s like standing alone in the middle of a desolate road waiting anxiously for something I can’t fully describe or comprehend.  Exasperated, I ask myself while in this moment: “Is this actually happening?  Am I really standing here experiencing whatever this is?”

I imagine that’s what folks felt like in 1938 when they crowded the streets of Harlem celebrating Joe Louis’ triumphant win. The moment is so surreal and unimaginable that we question our own existence while experiencing it – it’s as if we don’t believe that we’re actually here and alive.  History has been transformed into a tangible event in which we are living it, breathing it, feeling it, and hopefully embracing it while being touched by it.

What is happening now is that all of us, including our beloved athletes, are wandering along that desolate road looking at one another in utter astonishment.  We’ll continue to wander until that moment when we accept this dream as reality.  Upon acceptance, I hope that all of us, pro athletes included, will continue the fight in order to ensure that our activist efforts weren’t in vain.  I hope that our athletes never lose their activist enthusiasm just because we accomplished the first task.  Though we might feel perplexed and overwhelmed at this transformational moment, we can still move forward while looking back knowing that we made history, herstory, ourstory possible.

I’m Headed to that Deluxe Apartment in the Sky!

15 Oct

By-golly I’ve been linked to by a feminist blogger!

Granted, my video content has been linked to by other bloggers before (well, before YouTube pulled the plug on my Nike Human Race video because it featured Kanye West’s song “Stronger” – boo, YouTube!), but this one is kinda big for me.  My YouthNoise post, “The Condundrum Facing Black Female Athletes” was mentioned in an Apu’s World post, “Carnival of Feminists (No. 66).”

It’s like being invited to the “cool kids” party; once you’re acknowledged, it’s like you’re in.  Certainly for me, being apart of the ever-growing space of feminist bloggers, political bloggers, and activist bloggers (most of the time, these three categories overlap) is quite desirable.

Note my current Facebook status: “Tara is pretty stoked that my blog was linked to by a feminist blog. I’m headed for that deluxe apartment in the sky now!”

Being a woman-of-color blogger makes it a bit more challenging to try and break into the mainstream sphere of political blogging.  Yeah, Huff Post has a few, but honestly women-of-color (mainstream) bloggers are too few and far in-between.

But hasn’t this been the case for years now?  I mean, if you ask even the more “learn-ed” folks about women-of-color writers, I bet they can mention only a handful, and of those, I’m sure Maya Angelou, and maybe even Alice Walker, would be mentioned.  These women are living legends in their own right, but there are many more women, including women-of-color bloggers, who are making waves and writing for a cause.

But it’s cool.  I’m accustom to trudging along, hoping to break a helluvalotof glass ceilings, and continue to shock the heebie-jeebies outta folks who sit down and have an “intellectual” conversation with me.  Like my mother always says about strugglin’: “It builds character.”

Indeed, it does, mom.

So, you can understand my enthusiasum about being recognized by another woman-of-color blogger; one who sees my efforts as valuable.  There’s a “being-accepted-by-your-peers” quality to the mention that I really enjoy.

And of course, it doesn’t hurt that YouthNoise (my part-time employer) affords me the opportunity to write about issues I care about most.  I’m not censored, but most notably, I’m encouraged and entrusted upon to express valid viewpoints.

What I do, is what I do – and to be acknowledged for that is pretty damn cool.