Sports in Society: Why Is This So Good?

By: Michaela Gilmer

The circulating story and investigation about Donald Sterling, owner of NBA team the Los Angeles Clippers, unbelievable and hurtful racist comments about all minorities continues to generate frustration and anger from sport fans, critics, athletes and the general public. You Can Play Project board advisory member, ESPN senior communist and CNN contributor, LZ Granderson, writes a thoughtful and eye-opening feature story for CNN: Racist remarks aren’t the real problem. Granderson is arguing that although Sterling may be currently in the spotlight for racist remarks; there have and will continue to be racism and remarks, just in different ways:

Bashing Cliven Bundy for his remarks regarding race is like LeBron James dunking on a 5-foot rim: Pointless.

And the same is true for Los Angeles Clippers owner Don Sterling, if you believe that he made the remarks attributed to him by TMZ and Deadspin.

As President Barack Obama said, “when ignorant folks want to advertise their ignorance, you don’t really have to do anything, you just let them talk.” Still talking about the talk of the ignorant is fun. After all, few things are more entertaining than well-executed memes and a hashtag in front of stupidity.

Right away, Granderson presents a bold but rather obvious notion that has yet to be talked about by those following the Sterling investigation as well as other racist allegations. I agree with those whom say Sterling should be removed as Clippers owner and banned from the NBA all together, as if that solved the problem. However, after reading Granderson’s feature, I very much agree and approve his idea that discussing and punishing the most recent and relevant acts of racism does not any further prevent or stop racism from occurring:

Meanwhile, Racism 2.0 is busily working in the shadows, gerrymandering away voting rights and creating legislation that makes pre-emptively shooting dead a young black man who makes you nervous synonymous with standing one’s ground.

As I re-read the previous paragraph, I felt chills go up and down my spine. Racism in the shadows. Racism is everywhere, all the time but is only recognized when it cannot be blatantly ignored, as it is appears to be every day in the United States:

Today, racism isn’t a crazy old white man with a dead calf on his shoulders proclaiming he’s “unracist.” No, it’s elected officials such as U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin saying inner-city men are “not even thinking about working or learning the value and the culture of work” and then feigning shock that people saw a racist element to his statements.

Granderson continues to expose serious acts of racism that are in very much going on in the eyes of the public but many will never recognize it. Four days ago, many sports fans and critics recognized Sterling as another successful, wealthy NBA owner. Today, he is known as an unforgivable racist. Is it too obvious to predict that Sterling’s case will eventually dissolve into yet another act of racism? Granderson’s idea suggests so. I love Granderson’s feature particularly for his boldness in addressing racism being a greater issue far beyond the current Sterling case. His feature piece reflects ethics, politics and sports all in one. I hope to report and write about topics, such as featured in Granderson’s article, in my future.

To see LZ Granderson’s feature article in full, click here.
Follow LZ Granderson on Twitter!

About Michaela Gilmer

I am a full-time student majoring in Journalism at the University of Oregon. I am passionate about working in either sports or music. For my entire life, I have wanted to develop my career around helping others and I plan on doing just that through reporting journalism. I believe journalism is a literary art form, but is also rooted in social action because journalists create ideas and stories that generate numerous responses and actions. For example, if I write a story about a low-budget high school where men’s basketball could no longer be offered, anyone who reads my story could take action on the issue I presented. Individuals may contact the school board and demand a meeting about the budget and the severity of cutting men’s basketball. I want to cover this aspect of journalism because I want to expose these issues in order to lead to action in changing them. I want to work in sports because there are many complexities with both amateur and professional sports. I want to write about ethics and politics within sports, specifically baseball, basketball and football. There needs to more research about NBA/NFL/MLB fines and how these fines are not the answer to fixing problems. Ultimately, my goal is to write and work for ESPN the Magazine. I am seeking work and internship opportunities in writing, reporting, branding, digital media, marketing, business journalism and event planning/organizing.
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