Friday, October 30, 2009

Now time for something different.

Well, in addition to my usual picks that will be coming tomorrow, I have a bonus post for you today, consider it my apology for missing posts while I was away in Europe (but I couldn't talk about game I didn't see, could I?) This is something I wrote after reading "The Hoops Whisperer" article in the Oct. 26th issue of Sports Illustrated.

I have never really been a proponent of the idea that “reverse racism” is getting out of hand. I always figured with everything that African Americans have gone through in this nation (Slavery, Jim Crow Laws, etc.) gave them some right to be handled differently than white people who have for the most part, been given every opportunity to succeed. But now that idea is being challenged in my mind, and its mostly thanks to the sport world.
About two years ago Sports Illustrated ran an article about the lack of African Americans playing baseball. They called it a “crisis” and they had a point, there are very few African Americans in a sport that is now dominated by Whites, Japanese and Hispanics. What bothered me was the double standard of the whole thing. They asked some African Americans how they felt about playing on teams where they were the only blacks , they asked if they felt like they couldn't relate to anyone else simply because of their race. The article completely ignored the lack of whites in other sports, the author wasn't asking why there are so few whites in the National Basketball Association (NBA) and no one asked Steve Nash or Jason Kidd if they felt like there was no one they could relate to, because they were the only whites on a team (although now, Jason Kidd is paired up with Drik Nowitzki). Nor did they ask why this happened, or what could be done to bring more whites into the NBA as they did with blacks and the MLB.
Flash forward to today and Sports Illustrated's October 26th issue. One of the largest articles “The Hoops Whisperer” is about a man, Idan Ravin (ee-DON rah-VEEN) who, with basically no basketball experience has been training some of the sport's biggest superstars such as LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Elton Brand and Chris Paul, to name a few, to great success. The article in question is about how his unorthodox training methods have worked to great effect but that some coaches don't like him because he hasn't “paid his dues” like most trainers and coaches need to. The article was good and had nothing to do with race, however it contained one quote from Carmelo Anthony that I found very disturbing: “. . .and calls him Crouton because '[Idan] rhymes with crouton, but he's a lot cooler then a regular cracker'” This quote was off handed and wasn't meant to be controversial, I suspect that Idan knows that Carmelo calls him Crouton for this reason, and to them its a joke among friends. This does not change the racial element to the joke. If it was a white player, and a black coach, this would be the equivalent to the white player saying something to the effect of “Hes a good one, not like the other niggers.” Now granted, “cracker” doesn't have the same history as the N-word does in this nation, but that doesn't change the fact that it is a derogatory word meant to insult an entire race of people. Yet there is no outrage, most people have likely forgotten about the quote before they finished the article, but there it is, printed in the largest circulated Sports magazine in the nation, and no one bats an eye.
At a time when Kansas City Chiefs runningback Larry Johnson (who is an African American) has been told to stay away from the team, and is being investigated by the NFL for using a derogatory word towards homosexuals during a post game interview and again on his Twitter page, it seems like the only group of people its okay to make fun of is white, straight, males. It is rumored, and some say likely, that Larry Johnson who is only 17 yards from becoming the Chiefs' all time leading rusher, and is a future hall of famer, has likely played his last down for Kansas City. Sports Illustrated and ESPN have so far avoided printing the word again, even in the context of explaining what the word is. And yet Carmelo can say “cracker” and it is printed as an amusing anecdote within an article and then is largely forgotten. Why the extreme double standard? Why should it be okay to use a derogatory word towards one group of people but not another? Coaches and commentators have been fired for less than what Carmelo Anthony said, only they said it about Black people. Someone somewhere should be ripping this guy for what he said, and it shouldn't be limited to this writer.

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