Tuesday, June 25, 2013

My Rebuttal to Jason Reid's Article about John Wall

Washington Wizards should think about John Wall’s ink before signing him to a max deal - The Washington Post

The above link is a post written by Jason Reid of the Washington Post. Before I begin, I want to make it clear that the content, the visibility, and the meaning of John Walls tattoos are not at all debated by Jason Reid, as he clearly stated in response to someone on Twitter. Nevermind that Jason Reid does talk about the location of said tattoos.

Jason Reid argues that John Wall getting tattoos after publicly speaking about not having tattoos in order to protect "his image for marketing reasons." Specifically, Reid had this to say:
Posing shirtless recently for an Instagram photo, Wall revealed several tattoos. Wall’s interest in body art is surprising, considering he previously said he did not have tattoos because of concerns over his image for marketing reasons. Many NBA players do have tattoos, and Wall isn’t breaking new ground in sharing his ink with fans through social media.
Reid is suggesting that because Wall's opinion seems to have changed, that he is an unsure decision maker both on and off of the court. What Reid fails to realize, is that he is reading into something that just is not there. Reid says it himself in his own summary--which I have to assume is credible--of Wall's comments regarding tattoos before. "[H]e did not have tattoos because of concerns over his image for marketing reasons." Nowhere in that summary does it suggest Wall was anti-tattoos or that he did not want them. All that can be taken from that suggestion is that Wall was worried that if he did get tattoos, that he may be perceived differently by the marketing base and therefore may not be able to sign on for endorsements in order to help accrue a strong, financial support outside of his basketball contract.

And Wall had every reason to feel that way about getting tattoos. There is a strong prejudice against tattoos in the United States and around the world, for that matter. I know all too well of this extreme two-sided debate from the comments of a post right here on Don't Laugh, People. There are cases where companies and corporations stress their intentions to remain clear of displaying body modifications in order to attract peoples of all walks of life. We are, after all, still in the midst of body modification--tattoos specifically--being representative of gang affiliation. People wear clothes to conceal their body art in professional settings. Tattoos have been proven to be a distraction if on the face of a person, therefore not promoting a productive working environment or relationship between the business and customers/partners/potential partners.

But Wall's "change of attitude" is not a "flip-flopping" of belief, value, or attitudes. Jason Reid goes on to cite examples of players in the league who are highly marketable and have tattoos displayed. The players Jason Reid refers to are LeBron James, Kevin Durant, and Derrick Rose.
Tattoos didn’t stop Miami’s LeBron James from becoming the league’s top corporate pitchman. Oklahoma City’s Kevin Durant has intricate body art and makes millions in endorsements. Chicago’s Derrick Rose is “all tatted up,” as the kids say these days, and he rakes in big bucks from his corporate partners. What’s the difference between those guys and Wall? Well, everything. 
James, Durant and Rose, in that order, are considered the best players in the game. In his first three seasons, Wall didn’t appear in an all-star game, didn’t participate in the playoffs or lead the Wizards to so much as a .500 record. James and Rose never tried to sell mass-appeal images to the public. They just let their play do the talking.
Reid argues that these players are among the best in the league, therefore obviously the most marketable. However, underlying in Reid's argument, is the insinuation that these players are allowed to market their tattoos because of how good they have proven to be. Reid may not say it explicitly, and he may even try to refute it, but of the responses I have read to his article so far, that is the unanimous interpretation of that segment.

I should not have to explain why there is a problem with that logic, but for the sake of being fair and constructive, I will explain. LeBron James had tattoos visible before he entered the NBA. Likewise, Derrick Rose had ink on his arms for the world to see before he was drafted by the Chicago Bulls. In fact, both of those guys had question marks about their talents at such a young age but were granted endorsements early on. Yes, we had an idea that LeBron was going to be one of the most talented players in the world when he was drafted, but for certain, nobody could be sure. John Wall had more college experience than LeBron James did when he entered the league, so for all anyone is concerned, Wall was a little more prepared out of the gates than LeBron James was, with a high ceiling and a lot of raw, natural talent. So why is Wall considered so unproven by Jason Reid but LeBron's early years held in such high regard?

Reid is ignoring--especially by citing examples of the best players in the league--that maybe Wall has always wanted to get tattoos, but did not think it was lucrative. Upon seeing the best in the NBA with tattoos and big endorsement deals, Wall found examples at the opposite end of the spectrum of what he thought was acceptable practice in acquiring endorsement deals and presenting himself as a leader to a basketball team. In fact, Wall's realization is actually refreshing, because he discovered a side that he was not sure of and he embraced that side, showing he is capable of change and adaptation, two traits which ultimately breed contenders and champions in any profession, especially sports.

Reid also failed to make a point in the following passage:
Like Durant, Wall has strategically put tattoos on parts of his body that might not be visible when he’s in uniform. But if he wanted to keep the ink to himself, why the photos on Instagram?
Firstly, where does Jason Reid get this information that John Wall wanted to keep the ink to himself? Based on the false idea that he was against tattoos? Furthermore, comparing keeping tattoos private to Durant? Kevin Durant has posted his tattoos numerous times on his Instagram, and embraces his ink with pride.

Jason Reid's skewed and flawed logic falls drastically short of the desired mark, and clearly should have consulted with editors before posting his ridiculous opinion piece that the Washington Post should be ashamed to have published under their name.

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