Gumbel Wrong in Slavery Comparison

I was going back and forth in deciding whether to offer an opinion on Bryant Gumbel calling NBA Commissioner David Stern a “plantation overseer” on HBO’s “Real Sports”.  By the way, Gumbel took things a step further in referring to players as “boys” and “hired hands”.

In case you haven’t seen it, see for yourself:

After reading reaction after reaction on ESPN.com (here and here), Sports Illustrated (here) and on FoxSports (here), I felt more than compelled to give my two cents.

Let me start by saying that I have all the respect in the world for Gumbel.  He was a trailblazer in the sports broadcaster business, who was ridiculed by White AND Black America over his demeanor and outspokenness (whites) and his polished speech (blacks, which is beyond sad).  From seeing him as a kid running through NFL game highlights on NBC Sports to “Real Sports” 30 years later, I had come to admire the hell out of Gumbel.

That said, I have a problem with anyone comparing anything to slavery – not just a problem, a BIG problem.  Slavery represents an what is arguably the ugliest era in American history (with the Jim Crow era being the other) where people of both races still have a hard time talking about in mixed company.

Slaves worked for free.  They were given crappy accommodations, and were treated worse than second-class citizens.

The last time I checked, NBA players (and other black athletes in professional sports) get paid a handsome sum to play a kid’s game.  They also stay in five-star hotels while playing road games, and get to travel on charter flights to those destinations.  Oh, and those players also live in the phattest cribs I’ve seen in my life.

Since I am on a bit of a roll, I’ll take things a step further by saying slaves were not given the best food to eat.  From what I’ve read, they were given pork and bread to eat.  People would argue that it led to blacks having chronic health problems such as diabetes and hypertension.

NBA players eat fairly well.  After all, they can afford to eat at five-star restaurants.  Hell, most of them have personal chefs.

So forgive me for not buying into the slavery comparison bull(spit).

Here’s the deal: unless it was from a slave himself, no one EVER should compare anything in this world to slavery.

It’s the ultimate insult to those slaves who lived during that time while suffering through a lot of indignities along the way.  It’s almost as bad as some of us black folks screaming racism over bad things that come about because of our own doing.

Yeah, I said it.

If you were not a black person from the Civil Rights era who suffered beatings and/or marched with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and/or led Sit-Ins and/or risked your life fighting for our right to vote, then I don’t want to hear it.

In fact, blacks who do so irresponsibly should STFU, and I would respectfully ask Bryant Gumbel to do the same.

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3 Comments Add yours

  1. Bruce Leroy says:

    WOOOOOOO! Klownchild is laying the SMACK DOWN!

    I kept hearing these discussions and I wondered a few things that seemed to me to be missing from Bryant’s analogy.

    1. Did I miss the scene in Roots where Kunta Kinte signed that multi-million dollar contract with guaranteed money?
    2. When LeBron James left, did Dan Gilbert get to cut off one of his feet for “running away?” (If so, I owe him a big apology for criticizing his his fourth quarter play!)
    3. Has anyone ever met anyone who was a slave in America in the 1860’s? I haven’t. Even if I had, there is nothing they could tell me to let me know REALLY what it was like to be a slave. My grandpa was injured in WW2. No amount of stories he could tell me would allow me to REALLY know what it was like to be in combat.

    This analogy was likely a pure publicity stunt. Seriously, I didn’t know he had a show and still don’t know were it is. NOBODY was talking about him or his show until this. Reeks of desperation for ratings to me.

    1. klownboy says:

      I understand where Gumbel was going (I think). I just think it’s reckless to compare anything to and throw around the word “slavery”.

      Again, it’s an insult to my descendants who actually WENT THROUGH slavery and suffered unspeakable and unimaginable racism because of it. Comparing multimillionaire (and other well-paid) pro athletes to being slaves is just flat out stupid.

  2. JAG says:

    Well done. I like the fiery rhetoric

    I agree with Klownboy and Bruce

    Mr. Gumbel (Dumbell in this case) has to keep in mind that Commish Stern works for the owners. He’s not an impartial arbitrator; his job is to get the best deal that he can for the owners. Even baseball has dropped the pretense that the commish acts in “the best interests” of the sport. The ability to lock the players out while a new deal is being drawn up is something that Stern has the right to do and he would be a fool not to use any and all leverage at his disposal.

    The owners make most of their money on the back end. They don’t get on network TV until Christmas and then not again until after Football leaves the stage. So the owners aren’t even breaking a sweat yet. I don’t know the figures but I’d bet that 75% of the NBA income outside of ticket sales is earned from February – June.

    I agree that throwing the slavery term around to describe a labor – management dispute is disrespectful. If David Stern were black, his job description and actions would be exactly the same. The NHL went through the same thing (lost the whole season) and most of their players are white. I don’t remember Bryant comparing that to slavery.

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