tv Tavis Smiley PBS November 10, 2010 2:00pm-2:30pm PST
los angeles, i'm tavis smiley. first up, a conversation with former u.n. ambassador and civil rights icon andrew young. the former atlanta mayor has written a new book based on conversations with his godson. the project is call walked walk. also tonight, pulitzer prize winning george dohrmann and his expose on youth basketball. he pulls back the curtain on the often troubling way we treat young athletes with an acclaimed new book called "play their hearts out." we're glad you've joined us. > all i know is his name is james, and he needs extra help with his reading. >> i am james. >> yes. >> to everyone making a difference, you help us all live better.
>> nationwide insurance supports tavis smiley. tavis and nationwide insurance, working to improve financial literacy and remove obstacles to economical empowerment that comes with it. >> nation is on your side. >> and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. [captioning made possible by kcet public television] tavis: andrew young is the former u.s. ambassador to the united nations and an atlanta mayor who was a legendary figure in the civil right movement, led by his abiding friend, dr. king. his book is called "walk in my shoes." he joins us tonight from atlanta. mr. ambassador, an honor, sir,
to have you back on the program. >> it's always good to be with you. tavis: let me start by asking what the motivation was for writing this particular book of these conversations with your godson? >> this is a kid that started talking with me when he was in second grade and we've been -- we're exactly 50 years apart. he's 28 and i'm 78. and he's been through dartmouth and london school economics. he's now a banker with j.p. morgan, but we've always been good friends. and he would call me with all of his problems and i just decided that this was a rare opportunity. for one thing, because he was in banking and i was having trouble understanding what was happening in the economy, i was learning from him. he was trying to get out of banking into politics at one
point and i began to say that, you know, you're in banking. most of our political problems are economic. and we need some of our bright young dedicated minds trying to figure out a global economy. so he has stayed and he's been assigned to south africa, hong kong, singapore, new york, london, and it's just made for a good conversation with him asking me what i think, because most of these places i have been. in fact, one of my blessings is that i've probably been to close to 150 countries around the world and i've met with leaders over the last 25 years. so i have pretty strong opinions. [laughter] and he likes to challenge my
opinions, and, of course, i like to provoke his thinking because i don't think we have the answers right now to today's economic problems. and i think that blameling -- blaming our president and the congress -- but we're in a global slump and it's going to take the kind of vision that i think we see in our president now. i think he's probably doing more for the economy in india and indonesia and china than he could do just with national stimulus projects. and so it's because i think the next generation, which includes kabia siegel, my godson, and my children -- they're going to have to work with brazil with
mexico. and we have a congress where half of the people don't even have a passport and they're trying to run the world from a tea party. and it just won't work. tavis: let me ask you a couple of questions right quick. first question is i wonder how much of the drama that we are enduring as a country now -- i mean politically, socially, economically and curveballly has to do with a lack of conversation between the generations. how much of our drama has to do with the fact that we're not talking intergenerationally? >> well, a lot of it does. you see, i was in the banking committee in 1973 when they left the banking -- when they left the economic views of john manard caines which had led the
country in the world in 1944 in bretton woods until nixon came in and changed the bretton woods agreements and we switched from the caine's economics to milton friedman and nobody ever understood that. we never went back to discuss it. i was in the congress. congress didn't know what they were doing. most of the congress people are lawyers. we had an economist who was the chair of that international finance committee, royce. but he was intimidated by arthur burns and george shultz and paul volcker. watergate broke three weeks later and we never got back to discuss how we got from a stable global economy where everybody was growing at a 5% to 7%, some as much as 10%, to this roller coaster economy
that we've had since the late 1970's. it seems like we went from a gold standard, which everybody agreed to, to an oil standard, which nobody fully understands who's pulling the strings, but there are some basic economic discussions that we need across generations and that we need, frankly, across national lines, because these are global issues now. tavis: when you say that -- you said a moment ago it concerns you that the members of congress today don't really understand what we're up against and they don't really have the answers. if you write about that, how troubled should we be by the fact that andy young doesn't think that the members of congress understand or have the answers to the crisis that we're going through? >> well, what we found in this last election was a lot of people panicking at the complexity of a global economy.
and so they're saying let's take our country back. they mean let's take our economy back. let's go back to where we used to run things. and then all of a sudden the chinese say, well, wait a minute. you owe us one, two, three, four, five. now, we can no longer make national decisions in isolation. we couldn't even make them in 1944 after the second world war, and we had fought a war to teach us that we could not live in a world without being related. to friend and foe alike. and we had an economy that helped us to -- do that. now, we never stopped to understand it and we always felt like we were running things, and we are. but the american public has not kept up with this dialogue, and
i have not kept up with it. i mean, i'm a preacher. but i probably have read more books on the economy in the last year than i did in all of the preaching time i've been preaching, because i don't know what's going on. i don't understand hedge funds. derivatives are a mystery re ling to me and they are to -- religion to me and they are to most of the members of congress. they probably are to many in the banking community. i think we're blessed that we have a president that at least is smart enough to try to figure it out but i think he ought to listen a little bit more to his wife. roosevelt didn't really start to get the message from the people until eleanor roosevelt
began to assert herself. even nancy reagan had to clean out the people who were manipulating ronald reagan and get him to focus in different ways. rose lynne carter sat in every cabinet meeting. she never said anything in the meetings but i know she said a lot when she got upstairs. even barbara bush, and laura bush. laura bush brought us back into unesco without so much as a controversy. this is something i struggled with when i was at the u.n. laura bush just packed up and took her reading program to paris and the state department backed off and we solved a problem we had been generating for 20 years. we need someone who's from a working-class background, who has the kind of education --
and ironically, the economists that i've read from princeton are quite different from the economists from the university of chicago and harvard. and so we really need a national dialogue across generational lines, across class lines and we need to kind of figure out how to make democracy and free enterprise work for the poor as it works for the upper class. tavis: let me ask you to that point. let me offer this, if i can, mr. ambassador. given what you just said now about the poor and the working class. i want to know whether or not you think what we saw happen on this past election day was more about americans being angry or more about americans being afraid. afraid of the future, afraid for their families, afraid of whatever is coming down the pike as opposed to being angry
at somebody. >> well, i think you're absolutely right. what we see is people acting out of fear and anxiety. and anxiety and fear are very close to each other. and for the first time, this was not poor people rebelk. this was the class rebelk from the middle class. now, they think that the government is taking more from them than it ought to, but the trouth of it is, the top 1% of the population now is controlling more than 25% of the wealth. and it's the upper upper class that is sucking the life out of the middle class and not reinvesting in the middle class and i think that's -- that's what i read from some of the princeton economists. i don't hear that from the
harvard and the university of chicago economists, though some of the university of chicago economists are now challenging and questioning the greed and profit assumptions of milton friedman. but this is just a beginner's economic dialogue. and i tell kids nowadays when they say i want to be a lawyer because of thurgood marshall. i say, yeah, we needed thurgood marshall when he went to law school and helped us adjust to the constitution, but we need some people now to understand a global economy and we need to have people learning to understand that economy in more than one language, though most people speak english and english is the language of economist -- economics, for the most part. i think to get global agreements, we're going to have
the kind of sensitivity that i think our president has got to develop. it's in his d.n.a. but it is not in the people advising him. tavis: i want to thank ambassador andrew young for coming on this program tonight. his new book is called "walk in my shoes": conversation with miss godson. mr. ambassador, good to have you on this program as always, sir. >> ok, and look forward to seeing you soon. tavis: thank you, sir. up next, pulitzer prize-winning george dohrmann. stay with us. george dohrmann is a pulitzer prize winning sportswriter who serve is as senior writer of "sports illustrated." he uncovereded new evidence about the relationship of college agents and athletes.
his new book is called "play their hearts out". good to have you on the program. >> thanks for having me. tavis: you call it youth basketball machine and after reading your book it is a machine. but tell me why. >> you have coaches, shoe company executives, agents, college coaches, who also have a stake and it churns them through as it makes money off them. tavis: it's more than a stake. this is a system of exploitation. >> yes, there's no way of getting around that. most of the coaches are white, especially the prominent ones and they take advantage of youth, a lot of the inner city kids, work them through the system and make as much money off them as i can. tavis: why does this paradigm still exist, these white coaches taking advantage of
these black kids? >> no one controls this world. there's no ncaa that can step in and apply their rules. it's really this lawless society. if you're a guy like the man character in my book, joe kelly, you can wake up one day, recruit the best players and profit off this. as coaches tell me, who none can stop me. no rules apply. tavis: why can anyone like joe kelly do this? how does this process work and how these guys start these teams. >> there's sort of this cherry outfit. it's a shoe defeat nike, adidas, rebach. they'll offer a shoe deal to a coach who can offer the best kids. kids as young as 13 were being sought after by the shoe companies and branded. this is hundreds of thousands
of dollars for a coach. in my book, he starts out living in a 700-square foot apartment. he's a millionaire by the end of the book. tavis: so at the epicenter of this is the shoe companies. why are they allowed to run amuck? >> great question. i wish someone would do something about this. they've found this is effective viral marketing. having 14, 15,16-year-old kids helps sell shoes to kids. tavis: when you say this is a lawless society, it's lawless to your earlier point because the n.c. 2-a has not stepped in, the nba has not stepped in. if they ultimately benefit even more than the kellies of the world why don't they step in?
it's only lawless because people allow it to be such. >> my guess is because it's expensive. to reform youth basketball it would involve some drastic ideas, something like the nba setting up youth academies like we see in europe. they're still making money so they're not going to deviate from that except when they're forced to. tavis:, who except when a guy like george dohrmann writes this book, who's speaking out on behalf of the kids being exploited? what's sad about this book is that these kids, if they start out with some promise and don't end up measuring up, the coaches drop them immediately. >> we see the kids succeed. we see them on draft day with their fancy suits and millions. what we don't see is the kids
that it didn't work out for. the kids have their parents and in some cases, no parents to protect them and they're thrown into this machine. and we wanted to show how it grinds them up. tavis: i guess i understand it on this level. that if you are a poor family and you have two, three, four kid, even a couple of kids, and this kid represents the potential of being a meal ticket, as it were, for the entire family, then you don't have a problem on a certain level with your killed getting caught up in this machine if you think at the end of it there's a pot of gold. i don't know what we do say to the parents of these kids, do you? >> no, my main character and his mother kiesha works two
jobs. she is struggling. and this coach comes along and says hey, i'll help you out. i'll give your kid clothes, take them to school. it puts this goal for them, hey, your kid has that potential. i don't blame the parent at all for saying yes, thank you, let's go this delex -- direction. what's unfortunate is these men that are making this promise are profit years. they don't generally care about the kids. tavis: why would a guy like joe kelly let you spend as much time with him as you did. i don't think he's stupid. i would like to think he's not that naive. he knows you're following the story with demetrius. he did drop demetrius and you were there. that's the one thing about this
book i couldn't figure out. why would he give you this much access? >> i think he started out as a short-term deal. oh, this will be good for recruiting. he started out that way and i got inside and i was close enough with him and his family and all the kids i was like a tick. it became hard to get rid of me at some point. i think we often don't see ourselves as we are. i don't think joe cease himself as distasteful or arrogant as he really is. tavis: did not or does he now? >> i would say not now either. tavis: do the kids have any idea of what they're getting into when they get pulled into this machine, as you put it when they're 12, 13 years old? >> no, and i think the transformation we see in the players in the book, especially demetrius, he's an innocent kid
who just loves to laugh. works really hard and is just playing the game, playing his heart out. and then we see as the pressure increases and he gets ranked, appears in magazines, we see him change. as kids do with anything, they throw their heart into it. over time and then it takes often too long to realize that they had been taken advantage of. tavis: there are a number of stories of late where we're learning more and more about players being paid. this starts, to your point, at a very early age. speak to me about the issue of players being paid under the table by many of these coaches, etc., and whether or not that problem is getting worse as we speak. >> it is getting worse, or it's as bad as it's ever been, i guess. there's so much money at steak
and one of the messages of the book is look how young they'll go. they realize that there's money there so they'll go younger and younger. we'll seeing more college kids big targetted than ever before because the money is so great. why wait until you can legally approach them? do the early bird kind of thing. tavis: has the time come for a serious conversation about whether or not players, amateurs ought to be paid? the coaches, schools, television networks are getting paid. obviously the conferences are getting paid. is the time now for a conversation about amateurs being paid? >> absolutely. i think the story you mentioned earlier they wrote in "sports illustrated" about the agent josh lucks. he was giving kids $200 a month. he'd talk to the kids in l.a. and they'd say i just need a little extra money.
it's like the drug war. you're not going to stop the use of drugs until you educate and you cut off the demand. or youlessen the demand. -- you lessen the demand. give the players $200, $300. >> tavis: how realistic is it do you think that conversation will ever get off the ground? i've been waiting for something other than the bowl championship for college football. how realistic is it to have a real conversation about paying players? >> i think sometime in the next five years, we'll see a slight bump in scholarship money. they don't call it paying players -- tavis: a stipend. a food allowance. >> yes, something like that. i think that the realistic but the ncaa will never call it what it is. tavis: the new book from george
dohrmann is called "play their hearts out: a coach, his star recruit." george, good to have you on the program. that's our show for tonight. thanks for tuning in. until next time, keep the faith. >> for more information on today's show, visit "tavis smiley" at pbs.org. >> join me next time for prosecutor a conversation with oscar nominated actress carey mulligan on her new film "never let me go." that's next time. we'll see you then. is>> all i know is his name is james, and he needs extra help with his reading. >> i am james. >> yes. >> to everyone making a difference, you help us all live better. >> nationwide insurance supports tavis smiley. with every question and every answer, nationwide is proud to