Lisa Fabrizio
February 23, 2006
Racism and sports
By Lisa Fabrizio

The word 'racism' has been tossed around the past few years like so many used hankies. In nearly all spheres of American life from politics, to the military and the world of sports the term is used to excuse and condone a multitude of sins. Sometimes warranted, often not, charges of racism against minorities are almost as common today as were actual instances of it decades ago.

The abomination of slavery the involuntary servitude of one people to another has been practiced around the world for centuries and continues up to this day. Its practice in this country is an issue of some complexity, but it is no doubt a part of our history, in that it is most definitely in the past. It was abolished with the blood and sacrifice of millions of Americans, black and white.

Slavery's stepchild, the odious Jim Crow era has also passed into history, likewise as the result of the courage and sacrifice of many Americans, black and white. The abolition of these atrocities did not end racism, nor were they intended to do so. Hatred and love are products of the heart and cannot be legislated by governments; Orwellian hate-crime laws aside.

Guilt is a powerful emotion. And like all emotions, it clouds reason thus leading to irrational behavior. Some Americans, rightfully repudiating our past shameful treatment of blacks, have bent over backwards in an effort to balance the scales of justice, but in doing so, they've managed to tip them the other way. Though they may have been useful at one time, racial quotas and affirmative action are in themselves racist.

But, despite the machinations of some, guilt also does not last forever, especially when nearly all those who perpetrated the original transgressions responsible for it are long gone. Talk of reparations for slavery are thankfully fading away as more and more blacks enter the middle and upper classes of American society through the sweat of their brow and their strength of character.

Yet some prefer to float through life on a raft of perpetual resentment, sometimes parlaying the ride into a political career. The campaign of some liberal Democrats to continue to fan the flames of racial tension has created its own cottage industry; a culture of racial victimization.

The result is that new phenomenon known as reverse racism as if 'real' racism only flows in one direction. The purveyors of this type of racism have returned the practice to its original meaning; not merely one of dislike or distrust between races, but the belief that one is superior to the other.

The recent comments of Bryant Gumbel, lately of the liberal Today Show and now working for HBO, are a case in point. Gumbel said, "[T]ry 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."

Had Mr. Gumbel bothered to check, he might have discovered that, according to the San Francisco Chronicle, "In Turin, 18 athletes of color are competing on the 211-member American squad." That sounds like about 9 percent of the team is non-white, nearly double the number on the 2002 team and not bad considering that so few blacks choose to compete in winter sports.

But the gist of his remarks suggests that he believes that the lack of black athletes debases the quality of the competition; essentially, that blacks are better athletes than whites. This loathsome contention is also apparently shared by baseballer Barry Bonds and others who promote the noxious theory that pre-Jackie Robinson Hall of Famers didn't deserve their status because they never played against blacks.

If true, then we must also say the same of all American blacks who never played against the huge influx (28 percent) of foreign-born players such as Asians, Cubans and other Latin Americans who now make up the rosters of Major League Baseball. You might as well include players from anywhere in the world or from other planets to make any sense of this charge.

A 2003 Sports Illustrated article which states that only 10.5 percent of MLB players are American-born blacks asks, "Where have all the black ballplayers gone?" They of course gratuitously toss in the canard of "perceived racism" but also cite, "the faster paths to the glory promised by basketball and football."

One might also include the paths to the glories of entrepreneurship, the arts, the sciences, academia, corporate management, or even the GOP Convention.

© Lisa Fabrizio


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Lisa Fabrizio

Lisa Fabrizio is a freelance columnist from Stamford, Connecticut. You may write her at


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