Tackling the Issue of Race and Sports Media

May 14, 2008 |

Last night during a brief moment of insomnia I caught a portion of a repeat episode “Costas NOW” on HBO. Let me start by saying that I was truly surprised with the quality of the program and I would expect nothing less from Bob Costas. Instead of looking at bubble gum sports stories, Costas and a revolving door of HIGHLY respected panel members (Mike Wilbon, Jason Whitlock, Joe Buck, etc.) discussed significant, glaring issues in the world of sports today.

 One of the topics they touched on is the role race plays in sports. Obviously, race is still a prominent issue in today’s society as well as in the sports world. Mike Wilbon made a great point about white columnists/bloggers (like myself) who occasionally write about race issues. He proposed that it was ok for black columnists to speak out against racial injustices, but when white journalists take a stand, especially infrequently, it comes off as self-righteous and sanctimonious. While he himself did not hold that opinion, he believed that was the opinion held by many Americans, especially racial minorities.

 I whole-heartedly agree with that statement. It seems that when white people talk about race, there has to be a long prologue preceding their opinion in which they announce to the world how much they love black people. It’s a hot button topic, and white journalists feel they have to show their resume and credentials to the black community before talking about race for fear of crucifixion on the public stage. As we learned in the Duke lacrosse case, the court of public opinion is often damning to the point where it can influence a judicial decision to try a case. In the media outlet, it would certainly be enough to fire someone. White journalists wonder if they cannot make a reasonable statement without bringing race into the issue (see Barry Bonds).

 Costas read examples from columns by Wilbon and Whitlock in which race was addressed. Wilbon’s article expressed the disgust he had with the black community in that whenever a black athlete commits a crime or does something wrong, most of the black community pushes it aside and tells them that everything’s alright (see the Michael Vick case). He said that many people called him an Uncle Tom for this statement, but he is absolutely, 100% correct. Whitlock’s article expressed disgust at the hip-hop community for celebrating murder, drug trafficking, incarceration, and violence. He blamed the hip hop community for the genocide of black men in America, where the “three leading causes of death and dysfunction are murder, ignorance, and incarceration.” He went on to say that hip hop music supports these three causes. Whitlock is also absolutely, 100% correct.

 The moment that I realized I agreed with those statements, Costas pointed out that if he or any other white journalist were to make those claims before a black journalist did so, they would be guilty in the court of public opinion for bigotry and racism.

 While that was one of the highlights of the program, other guests he interviewed included Kellen Winslow, Sr…no wonder his son turned out to be a nut case. He proposed that no one referred to Ben Roethlisberger as an idiot after his motorcycle accident, but his son was coined a moron and a thug by the media and white America. He also referred to Jamarcus Russell’s Wonderlic score being published in the papers while no other white quarterbacks had their Wonderlic scores published.

 This is a prime example of a new kind of racism that is infecting this country and placing more of a strain on racial issues than there probably should be. This is a prime example of reverse racism, and in my mind, reverse racism is becoming one of the biggest problems in this country. People like Kellen Winslow, Sr. continue to mislead naïve black minds that every white person in the world is out to get them, and this could not be farther from the truth.

 None of those statements contained the full truth. EVERYONE called Big Ben an idiot for not wearing a helmet. EVERYONE saw Brady Quinn’s Wonderlic score in the sports section. Making sweeping generalizations like those are going to continue to poison young black minds and widen the racial divide. Being anti-white serves nobody well just as being anti-black is detrimental to all society. Whether you’re black, white, brown, or purple, racism in all forms will continue to be an issue if we can’t move on from the past and look toward the future.

 Costas said that they were going to hold a 90 minute edition of Costas NOW later in the year that would exclusively feature racism issues. I look forward to hearing more about this issue from great sports minds.

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