The other day, Bryant Gumbel said this on his HBO sports show:
Finally, tonight, the Winter Games. Count me among those who don’t care about 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… 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.
What a moron. He’s right – there are far less black athletes at the winter games than the summer games, but there’s a logical (and rather obvious) reason for that. These are winter events, primarily dominated by northern countries – the Nordic countries, Europe, Russia. Not a lot of black people there. It’s not a global conspiracy to keep black people out, so why play the race card here? And implying that the world’s greatest athletes must be black is just plain racist. I think it’s funny that he goes on to mention March Madness, a college basketball tournament in which at least 80% of the players are black. Has anyone complained about the lack of white players in that tournament?
I’m rather surprised that this hasn’t been a bigger thing in the media. If a white reporter had said that he doesn’t like the March Madness tournament (or the NBA, or the NFL) because of the lack of white players, it would be front page news across North America and he’d be fired on the spot. Yet, Gumbel makes a patently racist statement and insults every athlete participating in the Games, and not only doesn’t get much media coverage, but doesn’t get fired. Apparently the president of HBO was interviewed yesterday and defended Gumbel*. I don’t get it.
* – Sorry, I looked around for a link to this interview but couldn’t find one. Bob McCown mentioned this on Prime Time Sports yesterday.