Friday, February 17, 2006


Finding Light In Bryant Dark

Eric McErlain weighs in on the always-dependable Bryant Gumbel ("dependable", that is, to make gratuitous offensive racially-tinged statements -- like this one -- courtesy of the guys over at Newsbusters -- whose site likely crashed after being linked by Drudge):

I figure that when Thomas Paine said that “these are the times that try men’s souls,” he must’ve been talking about the start of another Winter Olympics. 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.
My reaction was similar to Eric's. I was watching the show (it rebroadcasts on Saturday mornings) and my mouth dropped -- and then I started laughing.

Gumbel's off-handed slam at Republicans is not surprising. Why should I be outraged? Remember that old story about the
frog and the scorpion? It's in Bryant's nature.

I'm not particularly a fan of the Winter Games, so I his dismissive attitude to them isn't a big thing for me. However, his seeming willful ignorance of some of the black participants (and not just Americans) implied by this statement was mindboggling. For one thing, Gumbel he apparently forgot (or didn't know that) Vonetta Flowers won the bobsled gold four years ago -- the first black person to win gold at any Winter Games; she's back here again. He also apparently hasn't heard of Shani Davis, who is competing in one of the men's speedskating events (in fact, Davis' decision not to participate in the "team pursuit" event may have cost Chad Hedrick a shot at Eric Heiden's five-gold record; the guy who skated in place of Davis was an older, slower guy.)

What's rather sad though is that Gumbel has a great platform with Real Sports (which, politics aside, actually serves Gumbel's talents well). Given the scheduling, he could have devoted some space to what are trailblazing athletes. Instead, he goes for the easy cheapshot.

On the other hand,
Booker Rising, an all-around excellent site devoted to black alternative-moderate-conservative politics, is running profiles of several of the black Winter Games athletes. The series is called "Black Ice."

Head over there and check it out. Use the opportunity of Bryant's ignorance to help educate yourself.

UPDATE: Fittingly enough, Shani Davis on Saturday became the first black man to win a gold medal, winning the 1,000-meter speedskating race. Paying attention, Bryant?

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