It’s something I’ve learned over the years: spring is that time of year when weirdos and nuts come out of the wood works, or however that phrase goes.
I suppose we should be grateful that the leaking through the media of a recording of a private conversation of the owner of the L.A. Clippers, Don Sterling, has us talking about race and gender issues. The new NBA commissioner, Adam Silver, has announced that Sterling would be getting a lifetime ban and a $2.5 million fine, and the NBA will try to force him to sell the Clippers, via a 3/4 vote of NBA ownership. I won’t be surprised if there would be more actions in the form of lawsuits, since professional sports is all about contracts and money. The unfolding issues are just fascinating for their potential depth and multiplicity. There are all these complications of what goes on in the private and public spheres; what is the responsibility (if any) of a major corporate entity like the NBA, which has this huge egg on its face because of this scandal (in the middle of the 1st round of playoffs); what about what are we as sports fans/viewers/consumers supposed to do (do we really accept this blech from Sterling?); and, hey, it’s spring and it’s crazy…
Anyway, I thought these two posts by Gene Demby over at NPR’s Code Switch blog are good synopses/analyses; definitely worth a read if you want to figure out the developments of this sports/beyond sports story.
Basketball legend (and ex-New Yorker) Kareem Adbul-Jabbar is right on the money: “Let’s use this tawdry incident to remind ourselves of the old saying: ‘Eternal vigilance is the price of freedom.’ Instead of being content to punish Sterling and go back to sleep, we need to be inspired to vigilantly seek out, expose, and eliminate racism at its first signs.” I agree that the levels of misogyny and racism out of this mess are opportunities to learn and not just assume that some punishment and moment of shaming will solve everything (not really). Getting things out in the open and discussing them in a civil manner get us on the road of how to actually deal with the craziness and becoming vigilant.
Which reminds me: I ought to read Justice Sonia Sotomayor’s dissent from last week’s US S.Ct’s decision, Schuette v. Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action et al., as she has been quoted for writing, “The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to speak openly and candidly on the subject of race, and to apply the Constitution with eyes open to the unfortunate effects of centuries of racial discrimination.” Hmm. (see here on Gene Demby’s post on the Supreme Court’s difficulty on debating on racial discrimination, over at the NPR Code Switch blog). I think that if the US Supreme Court justices are having a difficult time debating how we ought to talk about the big issues, if we ever knew how to talk about them – well, clearly, we all need to learn something and these topics are everywhere as it is.
And, while also not related to the NBA situation, note this: “I’m convinced we won’t really learn how to deal with these issues until we learn how to talk about them. It’s time to break down the patterns; they’re only keeping us from really relating to each other on a subject that’s too important to get right.” – Eric Deggans, NPR critic, in discussing the reaction to his post on whether there would be more diversity on late night tv shows.
I’m not even an NBA follower, although I suppose the Brooklyn Nets are trying to keep things interesting with their playoff games against the Toronto Raptors. I’m still waiting to see if Barclay Center will ever be a real financial boon for the neighborhoods of Boerum Hill, downtown Brooklyn, Prospect Heights, and Park Slope (which are all fighting to claim the arena; yeah, okay.., you’d think we’d all try to work together to spread the wealth, since Barclay Center is smack in the middle of the intersection of those neighborhoods).
At the least, we’re living in interesting times.