Art Vandelay wrote:
What I'm saying is that people are not going beyond Gumbel's actually words to see the point that is made by them. People stop at his inflamitory language (and I think we can all agree that he defintiely could have used better language) to see that he has a point. Anyway...here's an excerpt from commentary about this that I saw on http://www.commondreams.org
, this basically says what I mean, only better than I have been saying it:
Let's look at Gumbel's comments again. "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." Patrick told his listening audience that Gumbel was "playing the race card" by claiming whites couldn't be good athletes -- when in fact Gumbel was hardly saying anything so shocking, or even that new. The fact is -- and Sports Illustrated's Rick Reilly confirmed this -- that the athletes and the audience in Torino are almost entirely white. This isn't because Black people aren't comfortable in the cold, but because of access to the types of sports on display at the Winter Games. In fact, the Winter Olympics are such a Snow White affair, it became international news Saturday when Shani Davis became the first Black Olympian to win an individual gold, not only in the 2006 Olympics but the entire history of the Winter Games. Davis knew it himself, saying, "I'm one of a kind." For Davis, his special status was heightened by messages he received on his personal web site, revealing, "they hoped I would fall, break my leg, using the n-word." [Maybe Davis is "playing the race card," too?] In the history of athletics, anytime African-American athletes have had access and opportunity they have excelled. Sports that require thousands of dollars of equipment, country club memberships and trips to Vail will continue to be as segregated as New Orleans.
Gumbel's comments on winter sports are not different from what John McEnroe and Andre Agassi have argued about tennis. They have both said, with no backlash, that there are potentially incredible tennis players in the inner cities of the US that we will never see because of an absence of public tennis courts and basic infrastructure. It's not different from the lament of Negro League baseball players of the 1930s like Satchel Paige, Josh Gibson, and Buck O'Neal who didn't understand how Joe Dimaggio and Dizzy Dean could be called "the best" baseball players when they didn't even have a chance to compete. Yet Gumbel is a target for stating the obvious.
I'm white as the pure driven snow, and my family was so poor when I was growing up that we couldn't afford skis, ski boots, trips to Vail, etc. too. I didn't see Gumbel crying over my lack of opportunity. What I saw was that he specifically said that it's a problem that there was "a paucity of Blacks" - not a paucity of Hispanics, not a paucity of underprivileged Whites, not a paucity of Arabs, etc.
I'd say my interest level in this story is about 15%, and I've already given this MUCH more thought and concern than I normally would just replying back and forth with you, Professor van Nostr-- I mean... Mr. Vandelay... IMO the bottom line here is that Gumbel put his foot in his mouth with his statement and he's getting baked for it, and deservedly so.
Race relations in the US will only improve when Blacks, Whites, Hispanics, Asians, etc. all stop paying attention not only to the color of everyone else's skin, but the color of their own skin as well. Gumbel is paying too much attention to the color of his skin and how "his people" are being treated. What Gumbel fails to realize is that, as an American, I
am "his people." Once he and the people who think like him come around to that idea, race relations in the US will be much better.