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17 Responses to “Friday Fire: Racism in Sports”
In 2002, I was watching the Packers play the Buccaneers. I think Brett Favre had 4 interceptions in that game. After every interception, Chris Collinsworth would talk about why it was the WR’s fault (Troy Aikman did not; he can be quite sensible when talking about the passing game). He was absolutely ripping Terry Glenn for supposedly quitting on a route and making Favre look bad. Late in the game, on Favre’s 3rd or 4th INT, Collinsworth was again ripping into a WR (Driver or Ferguson, or Glenn again, I’m not sure), blaming him for the INT. After several replays, it was very, very obvious Favre had thrown an atrocious pass that the WR had no chance to get to (which Troy Aikman recognized all along). And finally, coming back, Collinsworth only reluctantly recognized that the last interception might “be on Brett.”
Obviously I’ve been very familiar with broadcasters covering for Favre’s mistakes. But on this day, something seemed different. Collinsworth (and possibly Joe Buck too) were going to great lengths to defend Brett Favre for his mistakes, and were absolutely merciless in criticizing the WRs (not just for being bad, but for being bad teammates, for “quitting” on passes, for not giving full effort). Brett Favre was a white quarterback, and he was throwing to black wide receivers. And I was wondering, why this desperate urge to defend a white quarterback against criticism, to the extent that the black wide receivers are getting absolutely shredded with criticism? Is there something darker than broadcasters loving Brett Favre? Is there some implicit racism in this shift of blame for an INT from a beloved white quarterback onto black wide receivers that supposedly aren’t giving full effort, and in doing so hurting the white quarterback?
I still don’t know. And I’m in no way accusing Collinsworth of being racist. But it disturbed me. One friend suggested that the positions Collinsworth and Aikman played could explain it: a former WR was able to see errors made by the WRs, while the former QB could easily see errors made by the QB. I don’t know.
Does that fit the criteria for the question you’re asking?
I remember that game vividly PV. I want to give our sagacious readers the opportunity to comment without prejudice, so I won’t interject until inevitably necessary. Yes, your example definitely fits the criteria. Thanks for your quick response.
Randall Cunningham watches rookie WR Fred Barnett turn to wrong way on a curl, leading an interception on a critical 3rd down. It was one of many mistakes made by the rookie WRs that day. Cunningham, snatches his chinstrap, and glares down the field in Barnett’s direction.
Dan Dierdorf, a hometown STL)legend and working the booth, then launches into a HUGE rant (lasted about 3 plays) about Randall ‘showing up his teammates’, his ‘poor leadership’, and the fact that it’s Randall’s job, as a ‘leader of men’, to ‘support the inexperienced guys’. I mean, Dierdorf was absolutely indignate about it, sparing Cunningham no mercy.
At the time, I found it particularly odd because, a) it was the first I had heard the notion of the QB staring down a mistake-making teammate was showing a lack of leadership, and b) my favorite QB, Marino, was KNOWN for doing that exact thing to everyone not named Duper or Clayton.
Fast forward ten years, and there’s Troy Aikman, in the post Irvin era, glaring down a Cowboy WR for a poor play. And lo and behold, my man Dierdorf, also working the game, launches into the ole ‘Troy’s a perfectionist, and he won’t tolerate mistakes, even from rookies’.
Now I don’t if Dierdorf changed his view over that time span, but it sure was odd to me.
I just find that for some reason, the actions of Black athletes, both on and off the field, are subjected to a level of scrutiny that others don’t have to face.
– There is absolutely NO family tradition that Gaines Adams or Calvin Johnson could used as a reason to miss the NFL Draft that would not have led to whispers about their ‘commitment’, like Joe Thomas’ fishing trip.
– Shani Davis actually having his patriotism questioned for not sacrificing his own medal chances to bring glory to his ‘teammate’. All the while America just can’t get enough of the self centered and disinterested Bode Miller’s “rebel” schtick.
PV– I remember the game you were talking about, but I also remember mostly every other GB game that Favre has played due to living in Milwaukee where Favre = God. It’s true that Favre gets the biggest pass when it comes to his INTs, but I’ve noticed that change a little bit lately. He was rightfully ripped on two years ago when he tossed 29 INTs and even a bit last year when he threw 18 (I believe).
Anyways, Collinsworth was blasting those receivers because Bill Schroeder wasn’t on the team anymore. When Schroeder was the starting SE (who knows how that ever happened) he would always be put on blast for giving up on routes or running the wrong route altogether… who knows if that was really the case, but that’s how the announcers portrayed some of it. So, I don’t think it’s a product of the WRs being black or white, but it’s more of a product of Brett Favre being Brett Favre.
The situation that Sweet Jones speaks of regarding Randall Cunningham and Dan Dierdorf sounds more racially motivated based on the history of black QBs and how they’ve been portrayed by the sports media.
As for my own perception of racism in sports: the initial backlash against the Fab Five. I was only 12 when they made the title game in 1992, but I remember everybody hatin on them for being “brash,” wearing their shorts low, and for shaving their heads. As noted, I grew up in Milwaukee, so I was a Wisconsin fan, but I loved these guys and at the time I couldn’t understand why people didn’t like them. I even took them vs. the field for the 1993 tournament against my dad and almost won!
before the fab five there was the portrayal of the UNLV kids–LJ et al.–as these hardcore street thugs, unlike the duke teams they went up against who were really thugs, but were portrayed as having been beaten up.
While I flood with comments…how about the ownership-management bias? It’s amazing to me how pro-owner, pro-general manager, or pro-coach the media can be. (Perhaps a topic for another time?) I’m thinking specifically, because I’m thinking of Iverson now, of how everyone thought Larry Brown was this long-suffering saint putting up with that crazy man Allan, when really it may have been the other way around.
The Duke lacrosse case was some reverse racism, I would say, that fed on existing Durham tensions and prejudices. On the other hand, that terrible coverage a few years back that had Iverson supposedly looking for his wife with a gun was racism.
I hate it when talk radio replays and replays clips of black athletes where they sound weird or stupid…there’s a certain amount of racism there. I’m thinking of the “Practice” clip for Iverson, for example…
Ha, look, just make this the Iverson topic already! Now for a black sportsman who does get away with a lot…I think some outspoken, funny black men like Charles Barkley or Stuart Scott get held to a lower standard, because “Oh, that’s just Charles” when in reality they say some inappropriate things. I’d love to see a white commentator trying to get away with some of the things Charles says. I do think there’s a double-standard there.
Right after the 2006 Rose Bowl, there seemed to be an all out assault on Vince Young. First came his “throwing motion”…then the criticism of his decision to use a fmaily friend as his agent (mind you, the guy is an attorney and trusted friend of his uncle, who is a teacher),….then the ultimate…the infamous wonderlic score. There just seemed to be attempt after attempt by sports analyst and writers to discredit the best QB in the draft that year.
In his press conference after the first game of the season in 2006, Tom Brady admitted to not giving his all, and said his head just wasn’t in the game due to Deion Branch being traded to the Seahawks……first game of the season. To this day I still here and read reference to Mike Vick admitting to not giving his all in the LAST game of the 2005 season in which the Falcons were already out of the playoffs.
To me, the racism isn’t so much a blatant disparage that leaves no room to the imagination…its the subtle way situations are described….Brett Farve is a gunslinger, but Vick is not an accurate passer…..one guy’s confidence, is another guy’s arrogance. One person is a vocal leader, fierce competitor…another is a cancer in the lockerroom. Brett Favre has a hissy fit over the Packers not trying for Randy Moss……Randy Moss came on a radio show in Atlanta and practically begged to play for the Falcons LAST YEAR, specifically said he wanted to play with Vick….I can’t even imagine the comments if Vick pulled what Favre did.
The Duke Lacrosse Team Rape Hoax was a virulent example of anti-white racism fueled by the university, the Duke professoriat and the MSM. Of course,it would not have been possible without the actions of an ambitious and deranged white prosecutor who was pandering to the black community.
I monitored the other White websites and their racism is blatant and wicked when it comes to Mike Vick. They inject the N-Word regularly while expressing a George Wallace type of hate towards him. The white Sports radio and Neo-Con stations in Atlanta stops short of calling for Vick’s crucifixion. Making comparisons to OJ and anticipating Jesse and Sharpton to defend Mike. All this over some dogs? Well, if Mike is prosecuted and sent to jail over this, then we should move vigilantly to end hunting in any form and human fighting that has killed and crippled many people over the years as well. Stop hunting? Watch the racist change their tune on that one. The Falcons wasn’t worth doo doo when Vick arrived and he brought millions into the NFL with little help from his team mates. If he beat these charges he need to run from the South like it’s hell and play for a good team..
“You have to remember also that Brett Favre is 1/4 Native American and 3/4 European, so he is essentially mixed race.”
—-Oh, please. This might be so, but in our traditionally binary racial society, Favre is WHITE for all practical purposes. Just as most biracial (black-white mix) people are treated as BLACK in this society, a white-looking man with a relatively small portion of Native American blood flowing through his veins is afforded WHITE privilege.
This isn’t Brazil or Cuba – where mixed-races are firmly established racial categories. This is the land where we are still living the legacy of the “One Drop” rule – and where – unless you literally have parents who are different races – racial admixtures are forgotten and downplayed. So, socially-speaking, Favre is WHITE – just as the gymnast Dominique Dawes (who is also 1/4 Native American, as well as 1/8 White) is BLACK. (Did you hear anyone say that Dawes was the first Black/Native-American/German gymnast to win an Olympic gold medal? No, you simply heard that she was the first BLACK gymnast. You even hear Tiger Woods referred to as “The First Black…”)