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Sports Media: Racist?

Category: , By Satchal
Scouring the post-NBA finals media coverage over the last few days, I've noticed a disturbing new trend: bashing of Euro Basketball players. For instance, the Boston Globe's Dan Shaughnessy, slipped in this gem in his finals recap: "Kobe Bryant scored 22 for the losers, but ultimately LA just had too many Europeans."

Too many Europeans? Is that a legitimate way to criticize the failures of the Los Angeles Lakers to appropriately compete in the NBA finals, particularly from such an accomplished columnist? This isn't limited to Shaughnessy, either. ESPN's Colin Cowherd, one of my favorites, has repeatedly ripped European NBA players and the Euro lifestyle in general, labeling them as soft as a result of the supposedly cushier living conditions (El Subliminal can better attest to this).

I'm all for freedom of speech, and certainly the Lakers deserved to be criticized for their poor effort throughout the series, particularly in game 6, but such blanket statements amount to racism, don't they? If such similar statements had been made about African American players, the public outrage would not be contained, and guys like Shaughnessy would probably be suspended or fired. In fact, see the backlash after former Green Bay Packer's great Paul Hornung uttered these comments. And we're just over a year removed from the Don Imus controversy. At any rate, I don't think this substitutes for actual game analysis, and we should expect better from sports opinion columns (or should we?).

6 comments so far.

  1. leigh unit June 22, 2008 at 9:03 PM
    you know, i totally agree with you. not to be racist myself, but it seems like the media in the US has to "pull back punches" so to speak when it comes to the African American but totally lays into other cultures- whether it be asians or hispanics, or in this case euros. i jokingly stated that the lakers had too many euro players but i would never write that in a column.
  2. El Subliminal June 23, 2008 at 4:11 AM
    Well, personally I would put it down to plain envy as opposed to racism. Everyone knows the life in Europe is awesome. What do the Americans have in contrast? Nothing. Even their music sucks.
    Sports used to be the only positive point. But recently Europe has been kicking team USA's sorry butt.
    So what do the ignorant sportscasters do?
    Resort to pathetic ad-hominems.

    My take is, not as blatant as racism. Now the interesting story is, the special status accorded to african americans in the sports media. That is an entirely different posting altogethr.
  3. Tracer Bullit June 23, 2008 at 12:13 PM
    Rush Limbaugh was fired from ESPN for raising the same point you just made, El Subliminal. I don't know why ESPN even hired him; they knew the guy was controversial, and would eventually make such an observation, yet they expressed shock and dismay when he did, and fired him on the spot. I think, as you point out, the larger observation is that sports journalism, like a lot of journalism these days, is descending into the septic tank.
  4. Tracer Bullit June 24, 2008 at 6:10 AM
    Well, well, looks like Imus has a new controversy over comments made about an African American athlete...

  5. El Subliminal June 24, 2008 at 6:59 AM
    My main problem is as follows:

    a) We want freedom of speech above and beyond everything.

    b) There is a definite bias towards media coverage of african americans. Why and whether its justified is not the point here.

    c) People say dumb things. They are rightly chastised.

    d) BUT, the witch-hunt has been elevated to such an extent that anyone trying to make a valid point will be painted a racist. This only discourages others from speaking their minds which well, goes against point (a).
  6. Tracer Bullit June 24, 2008 at 8:18 AM
    Would you say we're getting to a point where freedom of speech really doesn't exist here, at least by the letter of the original intent of the first amendment? My only problem really is the lack of consistency, which means the media is biased and shows favoritism, which is pretty disappointing.

Something to say?