Saturday, February 18, 2006

Bryant Gumbel's Racist Screed

Even the Snow is White...

Mark Caro, Pop Machine, Chicago Tribune, February 17, 2006

Sometimes there's controversy over what someone says, and sometimes there's controversy over whether what someone says SHOULD be controversial.

Case in point: Bryant Gumbel's recent race-based trashing of the Winter Olympics and the relatively little notice it has received. Only a few mainstream publications reported what he said - the Chicago Tribune was not among them - yet debate has been raging on HBO's bulletin boards since Gumbel's comments more than a week ago on his show "Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel."

Here's what he said (as cut-and-pasted by a friend and confirmed by my watching the show; the transcript is no longer on the HBO site):

And finally tonight, the Winter Games. Count me among those that don't
like 'em and won't watch 'em. In fact, I figure when Thomas Paine said, "These
are the times that try men's souls," he must have been talking about the start
of another Winter Olympics.
Because they are so trying, maybe over the next
three weeks we should all try too. Like try not to be incredulous when someone
tries 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.

And try to blot out all
logic when announcers and sports writers pretend to care about the luge, the
skeleton, the biathlon, and all those other events they don't understand and
totally ignore for all but three weeks every four years.

Face it, these Olympics
are little more than a marketing plan to fill space and sell time during the
dreary days of February. So, if only to hasten the arrival of the day they're
done, and we can move on to March Madness, for God's sake, let the Games

I just saw the rerun of this telecast on Thursday night, and Gumbel's screed, delivered like a machine gun of scorn, followed a feel-good feature about the black players and white coach who made up the groundbreaking 1960s championship college basketball team depicted in the movie "Glory Road."

The overall impression was something akin to painting a watercolor rainbow and then spraying it with acid. No wonder Gumbel's only on cable these days.