Bryant Gumbel is a Race-Baiting Clown
HBO’s Bryant Gumbel seems to be on a collision course with irrelevancy. He has decided to join the likes of Albert Haynesworth and Adrian Peterson in comparing multi-million dollar contracts and labor negotiations between professional sports owners and players with slavery. Only this time, he decided to attack NBA Commissioner David Stern by name. From NBC Sports:
Stern’s version of what’s been going on behind closed doors has, of course, been disputed. But his efforts were typical of a commissioner, who has always seemed eager to be viewed as some kind of modern plantation overseer treating NBA men as if they were his boys. It’s part of Stern’s M.O. Like his past self-serving edicts on dress code or the questioning of officials, his moves are intended to do little more than show how he’s the one keeping the hired hands in their place.
Not only is it ridiculous and disrespectful for Gumbel to compare anything where the average salary of players is over $5M to the horrors of slavery, he actual implies that David Stern wants to be seen this way. Normally I would chalk this up to another idiot shooting his mouth off, but Gumbel has a history of this type of racial rhetoric.
Before the 2006 Winter Olympics, Gumbel had this to say about the upcoming games:
Finally, tonight, the Winter Games. Count me among those who don’t like them and won’t watch them … Because they’re so trying, maybe over the next three weeks we should all try too. Like, try not to be incredulous when someone attempts to link these games to those of the ancient Greeks who never heard of skating or skiing. So try not to laugh when someone says these are the world’s greatest athletes, despite a paucity of blacks that makes the Winter Games look like a GOP convention. Try not to point out that something’s not really a sport if a pseudo-athlete waits in what’s called a kiss-and-cry area, while some panel of subjective judges decides who won … So if only to hasten the arrival of the day they’re done, when we can move on to March Madness — for God’s sake, let the games begin.
Gumbel’s argument here is that participants in these games shouldn’t be considered among the world’s best athletes because there aren’t enough black people to suit him. Instead, he demeans the participants by referring to them as “pseudo-athletes” and sings the virtues of March Madness. I’d like to see him try a triple axle or hit the ski jump and try to fly over 200 meters and then see what he has to say.
Then we have his comments when Paul Tagliabue retired as NFL Commissioner. At that time he decided to a offer up some racially-charged advice for incoming NFL Commisioner Roger Goodell:
Before he cleans out his office, have Paul Tagliabue show you where he keeps Gene Upshaw’s leash. By making the docile head of the players union his personal pet, your predecessor has kept the peace without giving players the kind of guarantees other pros take for granted. Try to make sure no one competent ever replaces Upshaw on your watch.
Not only does this characterization imply that Tagliabue controlled the actions of the Upshaw, one would think that someone that just invoked slavery to describe the current NBA Lockout might have had a better grasp of what happened during slavery, particularly the part where many were leashed and led to auctions. For anyone to use these terms to describe the relationship between a white and black man is not only cruel, but is nothing more than a feeble attempt to stoke up a racial fire where no evidence of one ever existed.
Gumbel’s repetitive injection of race into sports is despicable. and I hope his latest race-baiting attack on David Stern is his Waterloo. There should be no place in broadcasting anyone that implies the ability of an athlete is directly related to race, refers to an African-American union leader as the personal pet of a white man, and then says the current NBA Commissioner wishes to show he is keeping the hired hands in place. Your move HBO.