bryant gumbel is in the center of a controversy that he brought up himself. here's a quote from his fantastic HBO show, "real sports" (transcribed by some dude named seth frelich):
"Finally, tonight, the Winter Games. Count me among those who don’t like them and won’t watch them ... Because they’re so trying, maybe over the next three weeks we should all try too. Like, try not to be incredulous when someone attempts to link these games to those of the ancient Greeks who never heard of skating or skiing. So try 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. Try not to point out that something’s not really a sport if a pseudo-athlete waits in what’s called a kiss-and-cry area, while some panel of subjective judges decides who won ... So if only to hasten the arrival of the day they’re done, when we can move on to March Madness — for God’s sake, let the games begin."
the thing that's been getting everyone is this line: "So try 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."
there's a lot wrong about that statement (although the GOP convention is dead-on).
first off, i agree with most of what he said besides that. i have serious issues over whether figure skating is indeed a sport. but they're fantastic athletes. in fact, everybody participating in the olympics are world class athletes. just qualifying for the olympics ensures that. it's not their fault, or the olympics fault, that there aren't many blacks that are snowboarders or figure skaters or skeletoners. it's a numbers game, and when the competitors are 90% white or whatever it is, the odds say that the athletes are going to be as white as the snow around them.
but he said black, so he's assuming that a black skiier would be better than a white skiier, that a black luger would be better than a white luger, that a black figure skater would be better than a white one. and there just aren't right now, for whatever reason. and that's nobody's fault.
pointing that out is a racist remark because there's no basis for it. we don't know. we just don't know. there's only been two really great black hockey players (grant fuhr and jarome iginla), and they are fantastic athletes.
is he saying that hockey players aren't great athletes because there aren't many blacks playing in that sport? he can't be serious about that.
but i don't think that's what he's getting at. i think what he's trying to say is that a true athlete is someone who performs while trying to stop the performance of others - and it just so happens that those athletes are black.
he's saying, i believe, that the best athletes in the world are football players, soccer players, basketballers and boxers. and you would have to think hockey players, but that's not the point here.
and, if you're gonna get into a subculture within those i mentioned, the best athletes are wide receivers, cornerbacks, linebackers, running backs, attackers, defenders, point guards, shooting guards, small forwards and boxers like middleweights, welterweights, cruiserweights and lightweights (among others - and of course there are exceptions to this).
and, if you look at the list, most of those athletes would be black.
but by saying black, he's not including john lynch, dan morgan, brian urlacher, david beckham, jason kidd (who's half black), ricky hatton, steve nash, oscar de la hoya and so many countless other fantastic non-black athletes who also fit within that category.
if he didn't say black, he would have been fine, and a point would have been made.
but he said black.
which is shocking, considering that gumbel's a renown golf fanatic. which means you can bet that he's probably gonna be watching the nissan open this weekend, whether tiger woods is in it or not.