A few months back amid Michael Sam coming out and Jason Collins officially becoming the first openly gay athlete in the Big Four sports, people asked me to blog about my thoughts on the topic. I refused for two reasons. The first was that I was new to the blog community and didn’t want to go down a controversial road and rub readers the wrong way so early in my young career. Secondly, I didn’t think it was much of a story. Let me explain.
By no means am I a hippy-dippy-let’s-all-be-happy type of person. I am neither a racist nor a homophobe, though. I simply tend to have a general disdain for every walk of life, which I believe was spawned from two things: teaching teenagers and working in the service industry. In both of those professions I have learned one thing. You can be black, brown, yellow, green, purple, gay, straight, or an asexual hermaphrodite, a majority of the time, I am going to assume that you are a douche. And I’m not the greatest person for that, but at least I don’t discriminate. When my good friend asked me recently why I decided to make this blogging thing a long term goal as a profession as opposed to a hobby and get out of the service industry, my answer was simple. I don’t like people. Obviously, that is spoken in hyperbole, because as I sit here with my new fiancé making our wedding invite list, we are freaking out over how many people are on it. All I really mean by it is that the reason I don’t like someone isn’t the color of their skin or who they decide to shack up with at the end of the night. Maybe I’m just old and bitter!
Anyway, I do believe what Michael Sam and Jason Collins did does have some heroism behind it. I think it’s great that now aspiring youngsters don’t need to worry about their sexuality in pursuing their dreams. But what I really think it shows is a disturbing trait in our society that this even matters. Why a gay person has to hide who they are to get ahead in America, the land of the free, the land of opportunity, the land where people can come to from any walk of life and have a chance to turn it around, is disgusting in my opinion. Now, Donald Sterling has poked his warped head and people want to know what I think.
The remarks made by Sterling just ten days after the nation celebrated Jackie Robinson Day are obviously disturbing to me. I have already explained to you that I am not racist, so why waste my time preaching about what everyone else has already said. There is so much more to this story that people don’t want to touch upon because what this story is really about will piss them off.
For those of you who live under a rock, let’s do a quick recap. TMZ leaked a tape in which he and his fellow waste-of-newsworthy-space mistress, V. Stiviano, got into a lover’s spat over a picture on Instagram with Magic Johnson. What ensued was some incredibly stupid and somewhat racist remarks by Sterling about who his girlfriend was allowed to bring to his Clippers’ games (I wonder who his wife is allowed to bring to Clippers’ games?). Adam Silver quickly stepped in and banned Sterling for life and is currently imploring all NBA owners to unite in forcing Sterling to sell the Clippers.
Racism has always been overtly blatant in European sports, specifically soccer. Many futbol fans have been talking about how small an issue this is compared to what goes on overseas. Barcelona defender, Dani Alves, was the most recent recipient of a banana thrown at him. This disgusting display of racism has happened for awhile in soccer, and now players are standing together and fighting back in a no racism campaign. My favorite Premiere League Team is often the brunt of anti-Semitism. The Tottenham Hotspur players and fans are often attacked and called “Yids” which is a very derogatory term when used incorrectly towards Jewish people. It is so bad that several players have been accused of making the Nazi salute during games against Tottenham. Racism has and always will occur in the world, especially in sports. Sports is where all walks of life come together. It is a powder keg for bigots to self-implode. This stuff is hardcore. This is racism at it’s worst. What Sterling did was plain old ignorant.
A lot of people have commented the last few days that Sterling is simply a product of his time and that most really old, rich, white guys are racist. Sterling just got caught saying what they all think, they’ll tell me. Is this somewhat true? Yes, as an 80-year old man, he grew up in a very different time in America. He witnessed when it was legally acceptable to be separate but equal. Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King, Jr were at the forefront of the Civil Rights Movement while Sterling was in law school planning on how to make his first million. Most people have tried to learn from the actions of that era and have moved on, but for people who were alive before that era, it is simply a way of life. Does that make it right? Is Sterling the victim here? By no means would I defend this swine, his statements in that recording were racist as were his actions several years before this. That’s not the real problem here, however.
Sterling went and said something in private about a race of people that turned him into the magnate he is. Adam Silver took action and delivered a harsh but very just punishment. Sterling is the first owner banned for life by the NBA, but in the end, he still wins. If he is forced to sell the team, he will be awarded billions. If he remains a stubborn old mule, he will still profit greatly, no matter how many sponsors and athletes pull their support. The real problem here is that when you are mega rich, there is little risk in the actions you take.
Sterling is just another example of why it is good to be rich and have celebrity status in America. If someone like you or I, dear reader, would have done something like this, believe me, the results would be much worse. But for Sterling, he stands to profit off of being an ignorant fool and offending an entire race of people along the way SEVERAL times. But since he has money and fame, his only real punishment is that he isn’t allowed to go to NBA games anymore. O.J. Simpson ring a bell, anyone? Go ahead, try it out. Flee a murder scene with two dead bodies on your own property in a Ford Bronco while eluding tons of police officers and resisting arrest all on national television. Then I implore you to use your one phone call and tell me the outcome.
What it really comes down to isn’t race. It is about a stupid man being able to get away with it and most likely not learn a lesson. Have you seen how many more times O.J. has been in court or gone to jail? Sterling got in trouble in the early 2000s for being a racist and he got in trouble again nearly a decade later for the same thing. And, just like last time, the end result is that Sterling is being set up for a huge pay day. Is his image smeared? Absolutely. But he is an 80-year old man, how much do you think he cares what myself or a bunch of millionaire basketball players think of him? Sure, he was fined the maximum amount permissible by NBA rules, but what’s 2.5 million dollars to a man worth billions?
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, in an article for Time magazine, summed it up perfectly:
I’m bothered that everyone acts as if it’s a huge surprise. Now there’s all this dramatic and very public rending of clothing about whether they should keep their expensive Clippers season tickets. Really? All this other stuff I listed above has been going on for years and this ridiculous conversation with his girlfriend is what puts you over the edge? That’s the smoking gun?
He was discriminating against black and Hispanic families for years, preventing them from getting housing. It was public record. We did nothing. Suddenly he says he doesn’t want his girlfriend posing with Magic Johnson on Instagram and we bring out the torches and rope. Shouldn’t we have all called for his resignation back then? (Taken from the Washington Post blog.
Kareem is a very outspoken athlete in his beliefs, but it is hard to disagree with him. It wasn’t until it home to millionaire athletes and coaches that something was done. When he was turning away tenants in his housing projects and being sued in courts of law for overt racism, David Stern sat back and did nothing. Sterling screwing over the lower class based on their race was apparently A-Ok then, as long as he wasn’t doing it to his highly paid superstars. (Incidentally, should the players and coaches have truly walked away from the NBA like they threatened, they would still be millionaires. If someone like myself or you, my loyal followers of Wayniac Nation, did the same to our job, we would be in dire straits.) Now, all of a sudden we care. I think Adam Silver was fair and just in his actions, however there is only so much he can do as a commissioner of a sport. But he certainly laid down the law and let the NBA know there is a new sheriff in town. Only time will tell how Sterling responds.
I need to cool off. Until next time folks, we are just days away from the NFL Draft!