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Colin Cowherd on Race in Sports

In sports, it is NOT racist to say “White men can’t jump.” But it IS racist to say “Black men can.” Why?

colin-cowherd-sportsnation-espnI’m pretty much burned out on the topic of race in America. Chalk it up to my European ancestry. Then again, it’s possible that the topic is so overdone and so laden with politically correct trappings, that one misspoken word or slight insinuation can be a career killer. In the sports world, the topic is on the table — again. This time because of some comments that basketball GM Danny Ferry made about NBA player Luol Deng, comments that have gotten Ferry disciplined, and perhaps inevitably terminated.

It’s difficult to find straight-forward commentary on race, what with everyone tip-toeing around, afraid to share their opinion lest they be called a racist, publicly skewed, and shamed into silence. So it was refreshing to hear sports commentator Colen Cowherd’s monolog to his Friday show, (9/12/14) which I’ve excerpted here. (Links included.)

“You know, one of the things that makes race so difficult to discuss is you’re never allowed to discuss it with nuance, subtleties. The emerging media, the blogs, they take a sentence, a word, ‘That guy is racist!’ Sometimes I’m not sure what racist means or what racism is. Is it layered? Are there stages like karate, are there belts of it? Like the clan’s up there. A bad sentence like Riley Cooper over there. Then the lowest level is grandma who crosses the street because some kids are on the other side and she doesn’t feel comfortable. But even as I said that you probably thought she was white and the kids weren’t and I thought of her as Latino and the kids were white.

Racism’s interesting though. Danny Ferry today is called a racist. He works for the Atlanta Hawks and on a phone call he said this (about Luol Deng):

‘He’s a good guy overall. But he’s not perfect. He’s got some African in him.’

Whoa! Luol Deng’s got some ‘African in him.’ That is racist. But what if he said he had European in him. Would that be? I’m asking.

What is racism? If I have black friends and said what Danny Ferry says, I’m racist, right? But what if I’m Hispanic and married to a Caucasian woman who I’m physically attracted to and nothing more. But I don’t like white people. Am I racist? ‘How can I be, I’m married to — ?’ Of course you are.

I read this, this morning. Billy King, black, played with Danny Ferry at Duke, lifelong friend, says ‘He’s a brother to me. He’s the furthest thing from a racist.’ Danny Ferry has several friends. They’re black. But again, he said, Danny Ferry said this:

‘He’s a good guy overall. But he’s not perfect. He’s got some African in him.’

Let me define racism. Racism is the particular belief that a race is superior or inferior to another. So if you’re black but you have white friends, but when you play pick-up games, you say ‘You white guys can’t guard me,’ officially, you’re a racist.

Howard Stern, for years, got away with sexist, funny, but sexist, and racially insensitive, skits. But he could not be a racist because he had a woman, and she was black, Robin Quivers, on the show which was his bullet-proof vest. I like Howard. Love him. But if his partner wasn’t Robin Quivers, it was Dan Quivers, Caucasian, would we view Howard the same person, the same way?

I watched a skit this morning on YouTube by Chris Rock called ‘How not to get your [ass] kicked by the police.’ It’s on YouTube. Lot of stereotypes, all different races. I laughed. I think you will too. Are you a racist?

Terry Foster’s a black reporter for the Detroit News. He called out Cam Newton, a black quarterback for Carolina this week because when talking about Ndamukong Suh he called him, not Terry but Cam, Donkey Kong Suh. To Terry’s credit as a black reporter he said ‘we need to stop the double standard. White guy says that, have to apologize. It meant no harm, but the black athlete must do the same. I don’t think Cam meant any harm. He just spoke out of ignorance.’ I’m just asking, I don’t have the answer.

Washington D.C. is full of really smart people. They’re okay with ‘Redskins.’ Are they all racist? Danny Ferry, black friend since childhood, one of his best friends Billy King. Is he racist? Does that sentence make him racist?

It’s funny. Let’s say Danny Ferry had a Hispanic wife, African American wife. Nobody would say a word today. ‘He couldn’t possibly be, right, because he’s married to…’ Why would that stop you from being a racist? You’re physically attracted to somebody else doesn’t mean you don’t hate large groups or think you’re superior…

Is acknowledging a culture is different, which they are, statistically, is that racist? The media often says ‘Celebrate diversity! But don’t point out the differences… unless they’re positive.’ …Only positive things make you progressive. Noticing differences , negative things — same guy — racist. ‘But I’m married to her’ or ‘him.’ ‘But I’ve got friends who are they, them, those — that in itself is racist.

…Washington D.C. — comfortable with ‘Redskins.’ Uncomfortable with my John Wall criticism. Huh? Huh? I don’t know.

…a stand-up comedian tells a joke, embellishes a stereotype, gets big laughs, he’s brilliant. An hour later Pepsi wants him to be a sponsor, sits in the boardroom and tells the same joke. Wrong place. Now it’s racist. How can it be? Same guy, same joke.

…I had a man come up to me one time. He said ‘I’m a Hispanic. I can’t be racist.’ I said, ‘What if you wouldn’t hire a Korean at the shop you own?’ ‘Oh, I never thought about it. Guess I could.’  Yep. You could. I could. We could. And Danny could. Or maybe he isn’t. Or maybe he is. Before we lunge and point and defame and define, can we take a breath? Can we take a breath?”

 Take a breath. Indeed. (You can find the entire podcast of Cowherd’s 9/12-14 show HERE.)

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{ 1 comment… add one }
  • Greg - Tiribulus September 15, 2014, 8:42 AM

    I am a prominent white member of an almost totally black CHURCH. There is no substitute for just spending time with people. We know each other. When “sensitive” subjects come up, they know before I speak what my heart is on God’s glorious artwork of race and ethnicity so they take me right, by default. Same the other way. We do NOT ever use racial stereotypes or terms with each other, even in jest. It isn’t funny. Neither do they call each other such now commonplace slang terms. Not out of some legalistic fear of offending somebody, but simply out of not seeing any purpose in doing do.

    We may joke about stuff like when my friend there got back from vacation in the Bahamas I told him what a great tan he got down there 😀 But again, we know each other and he thought it was hilarious.

    Double standards are all too common, but not everywhere. Christians are brethren in both Adams and have the least excuse of all for racism. Or any kind of ethnically based division. Jesus, as always, is the answer.

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