Bruh Trippin’

The playoffs are arguably the best part of every season no matter what sport you are playing or watching. There is nothing that can quite match the intensity of giving all you’ve got for that game or match, and then having to do it all over again the next night or the next week. Within the past week, amid playoff basketball and some of the best games any fan has seen all year, basketball has taken a backseat.

You would expect to hear about a superstar’s dazzling performance or the underdog winning a game on the road. However, racism has been the topic of conversation of pretty much everyone involved with the NBA, from owners to players to commentators to fans. Racism.

Of the four major U.S. sports, basketball has the highest percentage of African-American players at 78 percent. More than three-quarters of all the players in the NBA are African-American. Make sure you can wrap your head around that.

Though it may not be surprising that 78% of all NBA players are African-American, this stat might: of the 30 NBA teams, only one team has an African-American majority owner, and that is Michael Jordan, arguably the most famous basketball player to ever play the game.

But this isn’t about Michael Jordan, or about what one player said to another; it’s about Los Angeles Clipper’s owner Donald Sterling and what he said to his girlfriend. Sterling, first reported by TMZ, reprimanded his girlfriend for posting a picture on Instagram of her with Magic Johnson. Sterling said that she shouldn’t be “broadcast[ing]” that she was “associating with black people.”

“You can sleep with [black people]. You can bring them in, you can do whatever you want. The little I ask you is not to promote it on that…and not to bring them to my games.”

As you can probably tell, this hasn’t gone over well with the NBA or its affiliates. The NBA and its new Commissioner Adam Silver are investigating these, and many other, racist remarks reportedly made by Sterling. The Clipper players, in the midst of a huge playoff series against the Golden State Warriors, staged a silent protest by removing their warm-up shirts bearing the team logo and wearing their practice jerseys inside out, hiding the Clipper insignia.

Many other notable people associated with the NBA including three NBA legends, also voiced their opinions.

Jordan, who I spoke up earlier, said “As an owner, I’m obviously disgusted that a fellow team owner could hold such sickening and offensive views. … As a former player, I’m completely outraged. There is no room in the NBA – or anywhere else – for the kind of racism and hatred that Mr. Sterling allegedly expressed.”

All-time scoring leader Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who was a Clippers special assistant coach in 2000, told CNN: “I know him. I know his voice. I am not surprised by this very much.” Though he said he never heard any racist words from Sterling, he admits that the recording shows a “repugnant attitude for someone to have, and for him to be an employer for so many people of color, it kind of blows your mind.”

Johnson went on to say that “He shouldn’t own a team any more. And he should stand up and say, ‘I don’t want to own a team any more.’”

The recording of the alleged conversation between Sterling and his girlfriend goes on, for approximately an hour. The woman on the tape, assumed to be his girlfriend, shares that she is of mixed race, and reminds him that most of his team’s players are African-American.

“I support them and give them food, and clothes, and cars, and houses. Who gives it to them? Does someone else give it to them? … I’ve known (Magic) well and he should be admired. … I’m just saying that it’s too bad you can’t admire him privately. Admire him, bring him here, feed him, f**k him, but don’t put (Magic) on an Instagram for the world to have to see so they have to call me. And don’t bring him to my games.”

Even President Obama weighed in. “When ignorant folks want to advertise their ignorance, you don’t really have to do anything, you just let them talk. That’s what happened here.”

Clearly, this is bad. There is no room for that kind of blatant racism in the world we live in. However, we have seen a different form of racism take place in popular sports, especially football.

Pitts and Yost (2012) highlight racial position segregation in college football, saying that African-American high school quarterbacks are among those more likely to change positions in college than their white counterparts. African-American quarterbacks who enter college are often switched to more athletic positions like wide receiver or defensive back, mostly because of their superior athletic ability.

Although racial stacking is not as obvious of a display of racism as Sterling’s comments are, both are unacceptable. The fact that Sterling owns an NBA team where four of its starting five players are African-American, and 78% of the league is African-American, makes this situation exponentially worse.

I don’t see any situation where Sterling gets out of this without some kind of repercussion. Sterling bought the Clippers in 1981 for $12.5 million. The Sacramento Kings just sold this past year for $535 million. Maybe he should take Magic’s advice and get out while he can.

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Michael Sam is changing America, one Dallas area news reporter at a time.

A veteran Texas sportscaster is being praised for sticking it to critics of potentially the first openly gay player in the NFL, Missouri defensive lineman Michael Sam.

Sam was a first-team all-American and defensive player of the year in what is widely considered to be the top conference in college football in 2013, and was expected to be drafted in the early rounds of this year’s NFL Draft in May. But on February 8th, Sam shocked the world and came out to ESPN saying that he is gay.

Within the past two-and-a-half months, Sam has received more coverage than he did in his entire career at Missouri. The sports world was in shambles. People praised him for his courage, more people were shocked that a gay man was playing football, and even more people wondered why he came out when he did.

The sports world wasn’t the only thing that was in limbo. Sam made his public declaration before he was drafted, which could be detrimental to his career, especially in the NFL, arguably the most masculine group of people there are. The NFL has recently been plagued by controversies of homophobia that have attracted recent attention.

Dale Hansen, the Dallas area reporter, slammed NFL officials who told Sports Illustrated that Sam’s announcement would hurt his draft status because it made players feel “uncomfortable” and that the NFL locker room “was a man’s world.”

“You beat a woman and drag her down a flight of stairs, pulling her hair out by the roots? You’re the fourth guy taken in the NFL draft,” Hansen said on his ‘Dale Hansen Unplugged’ segment.

“You kill people while driving drunk? That guy’s welcome.”

Hansen did admit that gay men occasionally made him uncomfortable: “I don’t understand his world, but I do understand that he’s part of mine.”

In the two-and-a-half months since Sam came out, the NFL and the public still have mixed feelings about the whole situation. The NFL conducted an anonymous survey of 51 NFL players about a week after Sam’s announcement to its players, and 44 (86 percent) answered false when asked if a teammate’s sexual orientation mattered to them

The public, however, has had a slightly different reaction. Most people are completely against the idea of a gay man in the NFL. Michael Messner states, “modern sport has clearly been among the most masculine of institutions” (Taking the Field: Men, Women, and Sports, 66). Football has long been seen as the mecca of macho-ness if you will, and I don’t believe the public is ready to accept a gay man into something as manly as the NFL.

Michael Oriard, an ex-professional football player who played four years in the NFL for the Kansas City Chiefs, wrote about how football was promoted as a sport to toughen up weak men when many felt they were becoming too soft. Allowing a gay man into the NFL would, in the eyes of the public, soften up the game and would lose the masculinity factor that has made it so popular with our generation.

Hansen ended his segment saying, “I want to believe that there will be a day when we do celebrate [gay people]. I don’t know if that day’s here yet. I guess we’re about to find out.”

Somebody give that man a mic so he can drop it and walk off.

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Dana White may be exactly what the UFC needs.

Las Vegas, Nevada has become a mecca for the Ultimate Fighting Championship, commonly known as UFC. It is where the sport holds its biggest events with its biggest stars. However, the biggest UFC event of late has been an interview with the President, Dana White. He was challenging reporters to name any fighter in UFC who they think was taking steroids and he will test them immediately. He had his phone in his hand, ready to dial.

He demanded them to give him a name. Any name of any fighter they think was taking steroids and he would test them today.

White’s requests got louder, more demanding, and more expletive-filled as no one in the room said a word. “Give me one [expletive] name right now, I’ll get them on the phone, and somebody will drive to their [expletive] house today and will test them. Say it.” His face became reddened, and his anger was obvious. Once reporter said it seemed he was looking for a fight rather than promoting one.

This is just the kind of fiery attitude the UFC needs; a guy that is not afraid to get in someone’s face just to prove a point or call someone out on national television because they are disrespecting him, any of the fighters he employs, or the empire that he has built from the ground up. Someone that is at the helm of arguably the most physical sport in the world needs to have that kind of unstable, boisterous outlook, right?

The UFC has become a worldwide phenomenon because it’s a sport unlike any other we have ever seen, save for (maybe) ancient Greek wrestling. Mixed Martial Arts (MMA), the fighting that has characterized the UFC, brings different fighting styles from all over the world into one octagonal caged structure which came to be known, simply, as “the Octagon”. The Octagon has housed some of the most malicious and brutal fights I have ever seen.

Imagine stepping into a room with chain-link fence for walls and no way out, and across the room is a man (or woman) who is an expert in the field of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and wants nothing more than to knock you out or make you submit. That is intimidating to say the least. But now imagine there are 200,000 people on the outside of the cage watching you and wanting to see you get knocked out, with another one million people watching at home. Now the stakes have changed.

This kind of in your face, no-holds-barred fighting is gruesome to some people in a room, yet exhilarating to others in the very same room. Some argue that it’s too violent while others say it’s exactly what this country needs.

America has had this debate before, and is still currently having this debate. American Football (referred to from here on as football) has been a hot topic of controversy for the past twenty or so years now because people have seen it as being too violent. Malcolm Gladwell compared football to dogfighting, and said that part of what makes dogfighting so repulsive is the inherent violence and injury that cannot be removed from the sport, similar to a large portion of the public who think football is too dangerous (read Gladwell’s article here).

Is football dangerous? Without question. Is the National Football League doing everything it can to protect its players and make the game safer? Yes they are. But what about UFC?

How can a sport that puts two men’s fists, arms, legs and feet in a battle against each other be made safer? It can’t, but that’s why it is so appealing. UFC has taken the place of football as the dominant physical sport, and the nature of the sport is a response to what may consider America becoming soft. Michael Oriard, an ex-professional football player who played four years in the NFL for the Kansas City Chiefs, writes about how football was promoted as a sport to toughen up weak men when many felt they were becoming too soft.

This is where UFC is today. It is a viciously physical sport in a time where physicality is trying to be hindered. And who better to run the most physical, hard-nose sport than a guy who will yell and scream at a bunch of reporters for 40 minutes because they are patronizing his fighters? Dana White.

White may be characterized as loud and overly aggressive, but he’s also excessively passionate about the spectacle he created, and wants nothing more than to make UFC the greatest spectator sport in the world, and he wouldn’t mind taking out a few naysayers in the process.

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