bad sports, good sports

Bad sports, good sports: Linsanity brings out the racists

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I think I give people too much credit. I don’t necessarily expect to never encounter racism and bigotry in the normal course of life, but I somehow still manage to be surprised when it rears its head, especially when it happens in some kind of mainstream fashion.  Last week in one of my Good Sports stories, I mentioned the emergence of New York Knicks point guard Jeremy Lin, who came out of nowhere to dominate the sports news over the last couple of weeks. Lin, a Chinese-American man who played college basketball at Harvard, quickly became the target of ignorant headline writers and news people.

The ugliness started with Floyd Mayweather, a boxer who has apparently taken a few too many shots to the head. Twitter gives everyone an outlet to voice opinions, no matter how misguided those opinions might be, and Mayweather took full advantage. On Monday, the fighter tweeted this bit of genius:

Jeremy Lin is a good player but all the hype is because he’s Asian. Black players do what he does every night and don’t get the same praise.

I will grant you that Lin’s ethnicity has certainly played a part in the level of attention he has gotten. It would be foolish to deny that. However, of far greater note is the fact that he had played in 38 games over a season and a half with two different NBA teams before February 4th and had averaged less than two points per game during that time. Thrust into the starting lineup due to injuries to several starters, Lin has averaged 25 points and over 9 assists per game in the nine games since. He has hit game-winning shots, played with incredible poise,  and led his team to eight wins in those nine games, all played without star Carmelo Anthony. I don’t care what the guy’s background is, that performance would have the sports world buzzing regardless, especially when you factor in that it is happening in New York. For Mayweather to diminish this accomplishment with his comments is disgraceful. Black players don’t do this every night. No one has ever done this. If the guy was an established veteran, then sure, his play would be all-star worthy but would likely not be worldwide news. In this case, these were the first nine starts of the guy’s career. That is a whole different story.

On Wednesday, the MSG Network, which broadcasts games for the Knicks in the New York market, showed its own lack of class when it used a graphic depicting Lin’s head between broken pieces of a fortune cookie along with a piece of paper reading “The Knicks’ Good Fortune.” Not to be outdone, ESPN came up with its own doozy on Friday. After the Knicks lost to New Orleans, the mobile site for the sports network ran a story with the headline “Chink in the armor.” Have you ever seen that Saturday Night Live bit on Weekend Update where Seth Meyers and Amy Poehler yell “REALLY?” over and over while discussing an idiotic thing some public figure had said or done that week? They would have a field day with this one. Really, ESPN? A similar thing happened on ESPNews, believe it or not. The network apologized publicly over the weekend, and later fired the person responsible for the headline.

I have known enough ignorant people in my life to know that racism is real and is not about to go away. I would hope that our media outlets could do a better job of keeping it off of the airwaves, though. For every idiot like Floyd Mayweather, I know there are scores of fans who are reveling in Lin’s accomplishment, and those fans are not just from the Chinese-American community. I wish the reminders of our shortcomings were not so constant and public, but I guess that if they weren’t, we’d be fooled into thinking that we really are above all that.

Bad sports, continued:

2) Another story, another dopey athlete with ill-advised access to Twitter. Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Roddy White tweeted his displeasure after discovering that league commissioner Roger Goodell’s contract will pay him $20 million per year by the end of his current contract. His argument was basically that Goodell doesn’t play the sport, so therefore he couldn’t possibly do anything that would be worth that much money. Funny, most people would say that a guy couldn’t possibly be worth $20 million a year for playing a game. I don’t have a strong opinion about what Goodell should make, but with the amount of money generated by the NFL and the number of morons like White there are in the league, I wouldn’t begrudge him his big paycheck.

3) Texas Christian University saw four of its players arrested on drug charges on Wednesday along with 15 other students after a long investigation by local police. The players allegedly sold drugs on campus.

4) Former North Carolina State basketball star Tom Gugliotta was kicked out of the Wolfpack’s game against Florida State on Saturday. Yes, I said “former,” and no, you did not read that wrong. He was simply a spectator, along with Chris Corchiani, another school great, when they were both sent packing by referee Karl Hess. I am not sure what they said to get themselves tossed, but you don’t see that happen very often.

5) NASCAR season hasn’t even officially started yet, and Chad Knaus is already in trouble. Knaus, the crew chief for five-time champion Jimmie Johnson, is not only regarded as one of the best ever at his job, but he is also well-known for his willingness to push the limits of the rules more than just about anyone else. This time, the 48 team’s car failed initial inspection for the Budweiser Shootout, an exhibition race held every year the week before the Daytona 500, for having C-pillars that did not meet requirements. Penalties have not yet been announced.

Bonus) The Shootout was a total mess. Virtually every car was involved in some kind of wreck. The end was exciting, as Kyle Busch made a last-second move to beat Tony Stewart, but the rest of the race was the same demolition derby that every restrictor plate race seems to become.

Good sports:

1) The Detroit Red Wings beat the San Jose Sharks on Sunday, their 23rd straight win at home, dating back to last season. This is now the longest multiple-season home winning streak in NHL history, breaking a record held by the Boston Bruins for over 80 years.

Bad sports, good sports appears every Monday



Alan Spoll is a software quality assurance director from the suburbs of Philadelphia where he lives with his wonderful wife and children. He has spent his entire life as a passionate fan of the Eagles, Phillies, Sixers, Flyers, and Penn State. Recent Phillies success aside, you will understand his natural negativity. Follow me on Twitter - @DocAlan02
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