RTWR - Sports, Society and Ignorance
There’s so much that’s happened in the last few days sports related that it’s more than easy to get names and places and plights mixed up. It’s especially easy to do this because, well…it’s all marinated in ignorance so the stinks of both topics de’ jour, are a tad hard to single out.
So, let’s start with the SLIGHTLY less bit of foolishness. Let’s call this story….
Marcus Smart and The Phantom Slur
So, Oklahoma State basketball player Marcus Smart “snapped” and shoved a Texas Tech fan for allegedly calling him a racial slur. Now, my issue with this calls on a bit of common sense from you to keep up: Are we REALLY to believe that a star player for a division 1 college BBall team, that I’m SURE we can all agree has been heckled by opposing teams’ fans since he was in the 7th f*cking grade, FINALLY lost his cool after being called something as tame as a “piece of crap”? Seriously, put all of your prejudices and beliefs in what the media has attempted to spoon feed us into believing, and use….YOUR BRAINS. Are we REALLY supposed to believe that a middle aged white man from Texas, who is a KNOWN “passionate” heckler, using a racial slur toward a black player for a rival team, is unbelievable? As a matter of fact, while being interviewed thru text by Doug Gottlieb, Orr ADMITS that he “kinda let (his) mouth say something (he) shouldn't have….but it wasn't the N Word”.
What we have here is a grown man, that’s made a reputation for himself for heckling, trash talking and belittling college aged athletes and has in fact “gone too far” on quite a few occasions. My main issue isn’t so much the use of a slur, it’s the fact that fans feel safe and free to speak to athletes any kinda way they please, because they paid for their tickets into the arena and the players are there to provide THEM entertainment; no matter what. And THAT…is bullsh*t.
I totally understand the politics of the situation, but am honestly disgusted that Smart has been coached to not only turn the other cheek to Orr (and others like him) but that Smart was coached to release an APOLOGY to Orr. I get that he apologized to his teammates and his coach, but to issue an apology for standing up to being blatantly disrespected, racially, by a complete stranger in front of thousands. It’s a shame that Smart is being used as an example by other coaches around the league for their African-American players to “be the bigger men” in similar situations; and that is WRONG. What SHOULD be happening is Orr, and fans like him, should be treated like the “pieces of trash” that they are and permanently ejected/banned from arenas across the country. And while I’m not a pusher of violence solving anything, I can’t stop myself from wondering if another episode of “Malice at the Palace (of Auburn Hills)” is necessary to send a big time reminder that fans need to watch their mouths. While the athletes DO need to have some extremely thick skin, they are still PEOPLE. People that have emotions and rights to defend themselves.
Michael Sam is No Hero…he’s just gay.
Pardon what I’m sure many will interpret as me marginalizing Michael Sam’s “coming out the closet” party but, I just don’t care. I mean, let’s put this into perspective: Supposedly, gays just want to be treated as equally and fairly as any other people. Specifically, non-gay people. Well, I’m giving them that treatment. I don’t care about Sam, or anyone else for that matter, being gay. More importantly tho, I find the sensationalism associated with so many closet openings, to be a direct contradiction to the treatment that they claim they so deeply sought after. I’m no homophobe, I’m not anti-gay. I simply am impartial. Maybe I’m a wishful thinker but, I personally feel the non-impartial world would take a much needed step toward realistic acceptance of the gay community if the gay community would stop making such a big deal out of being The Gay Community.
However, this isn’t my problem with this story….
I've seen a few writers have the audacity to compare Michael Sam to…..Jackie Robinson. Yup, THAT Jackie Robinson. Let me say something really important here: A gay college player coming out after his college days are over, KNOWING that he’s an all but CERTAIN NFL draft pick is in NO WAY FUCKING CLOSE to the story of Jackie Robinson’s adversity.
And let me make something emphatically clear: While I openly and deeply recognize the struggle of gay people throughout history, it is without a doubt, ironically enough, yet ANOTHER slap in the face to African-Americans to have that struggle even compared to in the first place. No offense gay folk but, there’s simply no comparison when the fact that Jackie Robinson carried the weight of HUNDREDS OF YEARS of MILLIONS OF LIVES being hunted, sold, tortured and murdered….COUNTLESS families torn apart….I’ll just stop there. While it should go without saying that no loss of life is more important than another, it should equally go without saying that a GENOCIDE is pretty much paramount to most everything thrown at it (let’s not forget the historic persecution of Jewish people, either).
But, the biggest thing that separates Sam from Robinson, is that Sam is coming into a world that is the most Gay tolerant that it’s EVER been. Gay people are incumbent in millions of powerful positions in the corporate and entertainment worlds. As a matter of fact, nothing is more symbolic of this than the reception Sam has received since coming out. He’s being heralded as a hero for the LGBT community. While I definitely see the gravity of what his coming out means for them, I can’t help but marvel at the audacity of how anyone can compare the way the world in 2014 treats gays to the way the pre-civil rights movement world in 1947 treated blacks.
From death threats to not only him, but also his family, every city the Dodgers traveled to was another potential death-gauntlet for him to walk. And his only support system, was a community of other African Americans that had no power, anywhere on any level, to do anything about the situation.
Today, people that are anti-gay are typically, publicly shamed.
In 1947, people that were anti-black were celebrated…or at very least, THE NORM.
I can’t applaud Sam for coming out, because I have no interest or care about his personal life and endeavors. But I absolutely acknowledge that it takes courage for him to do what he did. But in no way whatsoever does that excuse the gross ignorance and blatant disrespect to the history of injustices done to African-Americans in this country.