Silence and Spectacle: How the Sports Media Sanctions Racist Mascots

Silence and Spectacle: How the Sports Media Sanctions Racist Mascots

By Guest Contributors C. Richard King and David J. Leonard

One would hope sport media outlets might take their civic duty to foster critical thinking, public engagement, and informed debated seriously. Their approach to the representations in Native Americans in sport suggest otherwise. Under the veil of fairness and balance, they opt to speak for, to be silent and to silence as preferred pathways.

When ESPN columnist Rick Reilly offered a defense of Native American mascots because the American Indians he knew did not have a problem with them. Flouting his whiteness and playing his privilege with little regard, he spoke for Native Americas. His word – his whiteness, his platform – made their words meaningful. His editors neither batted an eye nor cleared a space for Native Americans to express themselves.

In fact, Reilly misrepresented his key source, his father-in-law, who wrote a lengthy retort in Indian Country Today that noted he found the name of Washington D.C.’s National Football League team to be objectionable. Reilly still stood by his piece and neither he nor his publisher have offered a correction or an apology.

Fans of Washington, D.C.’s NFL team. Image by Keith Allison via Flickr Creative Commons.

Similarly, Daniel Snyder, the owner of the franchise, continually invokes American Indians to support the team name, imagery and traditions, as in his recent sentimental letter to the public, from one-time coach Lone Star Dietz (who claimed to be but was indeed not indigenous) as the inspiration of the honorific name to the Red Cloud School (a reservation school which does not support it).

Not surprisingly, someone who loves and profits from the invented Indian figure he owns does not have a problem with offering up insincere fictions in his defense. He doesn’t invoke the history of colonization and genocide, or the specific racial history of his own franchise. Predictably, someone who reaps the daily benefit of white supremacy sees little problem with the football team located in the nation’s capital having for its mascot a racist slur seeped in white supremacist colonial history.

Continue reading at Silence and Spectacle: How the Sports Media Sanctions Racist Mascots | Racialicious – the intersection of race and pop culture.

It is the media’s fault: Hatin the Spurs

I only root for one team: the Lakers.  To root for another team feels like a betrayal.  I also don’t root against teams unless they are playing the Lakers; that is pure haterism.  My love of the game, and my passion for basketball has nothing to do with hating on other teams.  Yet, I find myself increasingly wanting to root against the Spurs.  And it has nothing to do with the Spurs per se (although their clothing game leaves something to be desired) but rather the media discourse that surrounds them.  My increasing disdain for them is not so much about their incessant pick-n-roll offense or the endless 3s they shoot, but the media praise of exceptionalism.

Greg Doyel is the perfect example of this.  He recently penned, “Forget thrilling: Boring consistency may win Spurs a fifth NBA title”:

They win because that’s what they do. It’s who they are. Latrell Sprewell and Kenyon Martin and Rasheed Wallace and even LeBron circa 2007 swing hard and wild. They grip it and rip it and entertain fans by visiting spots all over the course. The Spurs don’t do any of that. They keep it in the fairway, hit the greens, don’t turn the ball over. They win the NBA Finals.

You could try to talk to the Spurs about what happened Thursday night, but you won’t get very far. They don’t say much, which is their right. Some guys, some franchises, live for the camera. They may pretend they don’t like the media attention, but they show up for press conferences in capri pants and Urkel glasses. They want that attention off the floor, because for whatever reason all the attention on the floor isn’t enough. That’s the Heat.

This is the Spurs: They come to press conferences with nothing interesting to wear, nothing interesting to say and no apologies to make about either. Tim Duncan was asked Friday about the promise Tony Parker had once made to him, about getting him back to the NBA Finals, and Duncan just nodded: Your point? So the point, Duncan was told, was that Parker had said it and now he has done it, and so has Duncan ever reminded Parker about the promise, or thanked him for delivering?  They just play, this whole team. The right pass. Right shot. Right defensive rotation. Maybe it doesn’t make for great TV. Maybe it should. Maybe the Spurs are the most admirable team in the NBA today — a team so comfortable with itself, it believes winning a game is the most interesting thing possible.

The only thing missing from the article is a quote from Billy Hoyle (White Man can’t jump) when he said, “A white man wants to win first, look good second. A black man wants to look good first, win second.”  Dog whistles or just pure screams? Given the NBA discourse, and the ways that race, nation, and identity operate, the Spurs are being imagined as exceptional and different from the league’s predominantly black players.  Evident by ubiquitous media representations of Spurs as “the very incarnation of humility” (Fareed, 2006, p. 57) and a widely circulated narrative that consistently imagines them as a team defined by “hard work, self-sacrifice, and the honor in labor in order to secure a piece of the American Dream” (Fareed, 2006, p.58), the celebrations from the likes of Doyel and Dan Wetzel are ripe with racial, nation, and gendered meanings. According to Dave Zirin, “Athletes in the eyes of many fans are too spoiled, too loud, too ‘hip-hop, too tattooed, too cornrowed – all of which translates to players are ‘too black’” (Zirin 2004).  Hard to think that the media does not share this same disdain and discomfort?

Within the NBA, the black body regard functions as “a site of spectacle,” as “a potential measure of evil, and menace,” necessitating containment and control (Denzin, 2001, p. 7).  As such, the racial signifies attached to the Spurs (and those attached to the Heat) derive its meaning from the ways in which blackness is represented on and off the court.

Nate Taylor, with “For Spurs, Every Game is a Global Summit,” reiterates the often-uttered praised for the Spurs and international players as a whole that emphasizes culture and values:

For R. C. Buford, San Antonio’s general manager, having the most international players in N.B.A. history was not necessarily done by design. For years, he has worked with Coach Gregg Popovich to build a team that fits Popovich’s system, which emphasizes teamwork and selflessness. These concepts may be easier to sell to players who learned the game far from the hype that can distort the development of fundamental basketball in the United States (ht @jacobjbg)

With ease, the Spurs yet again becomes a moment to posit a “model minority” discourse where the “nonblack” and international NBA players reflect the desired qualities of humility, teamwork, and fundamental play long reserved for whites within a sporting imagination.  Who needs facts when you have a compelling narrative.  Never mind, LeBron’s intellectual mastery of the game; never mind the unselfishness of Heat players or the hardwork of every NBA player.    Never mind, Manu’s questionable shot selection or Tony Parker’s tendency to dribble out the entire shot clock (or fact that he is a shooting PG) or the Spurs up-temp style of ball, the Spurs have come to embody the antithesis of ballers, hip-hop, and blackness  within the NBA imagination.

These comments should also give us pause at sporting level because the celebration of Spurs as being all about winning, about team and championships, compared to the Heat, is laughable given that the Spurs haven’t won a title in 5 years.  This year their ethos and focus matters but what happened last year? The year before; and the one before that?  The Heat have been in the NBA finals three straight seasons so what gives?  What about the Lakers’ over the last 2 decades?  And even the Bulls, who were also about the show, who were known for their enjoyment of life, found ways to dominate?

While I likely wont root for the Heat or even against the Spurs, the likes of Gregg Doyle and their rhetorical drooling about the Spurs is challenging me to keep to my game.

Rotten at its core or it’s bigger than Rutgers

In classrooms across the nation, future Olivia Popes will learn about Rutgers University as an example of what not to do when responding to crisis.   From President Robert Barchi not watching the video of his basketball coach abusing student athletes to their failure to properly vet the academic credentials of new basketball coach Eddie Jordan, Rutgers has shown a level of ineptitude comparable to Tim Tebow’s throwing arm and Dwight Howard’s free throw shooting.  Yet, their failures are systemic; the consequences are severe.  The most recent example of not just incompetence but a level of blindness to the fundamental problems facing college sports can be seen with the hiring of Julie Hermann.  Dave Zirin describes the situation as such:

That’s what makes the goings-on at Rutgers University so maddening. In looking to move the school forward following the scandal that cost bullying former basketball coach Mike Rice and athletic director Tim Pernetti their jobs, school president Robert Barchi hired former Louisville assistant athletic director Julie Hermann. After the homophobic, misogynistic invective that will define the Mike Rice era, appointing an extremely competent woman must have seemed savvy. Unfortunately, in aiming to get beyond a bullying scandal, the school hired an athletic director with a history of bullying. In attempting to show that the athletic department is not a haven for misogynists, they hired someone with a history of misogyny. And worst of all, in boasting about the depths of their research into Hermann’s past, they missed a series of incidents that a Google search followed by ten minutes of follow-up phone calls could have revealed.

While clearly Rutgers has shown what not to do, while the reports about Julie Hermann are troubling and while what has gone on Rutgers from Mike Rice forward are an indication of the warped and troubling values of higher education, I find myself wondering if she is being held to different standards than her male counterparts. Is she becoming a scapegoat? It would be nice if male ADs and coaches (and professors, administrators….) were held to same level of scrutiny and accountability. It would be nice if we talked about police officers who go from one force to next with a rap sheet of complaints about brutality with same level of interest and questions about past behavior.

One can only wish that the anti feminist and sexist culture that pervades sports and university culture be called out in every instance.  One can only hope that the abuses and exploitation be highlighted, whether it be the sensational or the examples of the entrenched nature of collegiate athletics. One can only wish that warped values that lead to a barrage of racist, sexist, and violent tweets that follow each and every loss be called out.  One can hope that we begin to connect the dots from from incidence of abuse and violence to ever growing emphasis on sports within today’s sports culture.  Whether abuse at Rutgers and Penn State, or the decision to have weeknight football games at the expense of academics for student-athletes and their non-participating peers, profit in front of people, wins in front of education, TV contracts ahead of tenure track lines, define today’s collegiate landscape.

We don’t have to look any further than Chicago where Rahm Emmanuel is leading the charge to build a stadium and not schools.  Worse yet, he might as well be moving the nuts and bolts from some 50 schools in Chicago to this new stadium at Depaul. Is this gentrification we can believe in?   Dave Zirin highlights the profit before people mentality:

It all starts with the person who seems committed to win the current spirited competition as the most loathsome person in American political life: Mayor Rahm Emanuel. The same Mayor overseeing the closing of fifty-four schools and six community mental health clinics under the justification of a “budgetary crisis” has announced that the city will be handing over more than $100 million to DePaul University for a new basketball arena. This is part of a mammoth redevelopment project on South Lakeshore Drive consisting of a convention center anchored by an arena for a non-descript basketball team that has gone 47-111 over the last five years. It’s also miles away from DePaul’s campus. These aren’t the actions of a mayor. They’re the actions of a mad king.

These are symptoms of the value placed upon sports within society; they are indications of upside down priorities.  It reflects a shared disregard for the future, innocence, and livelihood of youth of color, whose schools are being shut down in record numbers furthering the both the school-to-prison-pipeline and the athletic scholarship-to-school pipeline, which each in their own ways are defined by exploitation, abuse, control and profit.   Its bigger than Julie Hermann or Rutgers.  Quoting Blue Scholars, in their song “Oscar Grant,

I hear them sayin that this shit don’t never happen in Seattle
And if it does is just a couple bad apples
But if you keep it count you will see this shit is not the apple is the tree
Its rotten underneath. Oh say, can you see no way that is true

When talking college sports, it’s not the (bad) apples, it’s the tree . . .  rotten at its core.


Dave Zirin breaking it all down

NewBlackMan in Exile: Brittney Griner, Women Athletes and the Erotic Gaze

Brittney Griner,
Women Athletes and the Erotic Gaze


by David J. Leonard | NewBlackMan (in Exile)

With the 40th anniversary of the Title IX, and the recent announcement that for the first time in history American female athletes will outnumber their male teammates at the Olympics, it would be easy to claim victory in the fight against sexism within the world of sports. Dave Zirin, in a recent column about Title IX and Serena Williams, reflected on the importance of this legislation:

There is arguably no piece of progressive legislation that’s touched more people’s lives than Title IX, which allowed young women equal opportunity in education and sports. According to the Women’s Sports Foundation, one in thirty-five high school girls played sports forty years ago; one in three do today. Before Title IX, fewer than 16,000 women participated in college sports; today that number exceeds 200,000. All stereotypes about women being too “emotional” to handle sports were answered when the gyms were unlocked, and they arrived in droves. It is a reform that has improved the quality of life for tens of millions of women around the country.

While certainly a landmark piece of legislation that literally and symbolically transformed sporting landscapes throughout the United States more so in the suburbs, Zirin also elucidates the persistence of sexism within sports culture, evident in inequity in pay, coaching disparities, differential treatment from the press, and the intransigent power of stereotypes. Recognizing an incomplete transformation and the need for persistent agitation as to fully realize justice and equality, Zirin depicts sports as a place where dreams remained deferred.

The reasons for Zirin’s muted or skeptical celebration have been on full display this evening with the treatment of Brittney Griner by “sports fans” on Twitter. Illustrating the ways that race, gender, and sexuality constrain and contain, the ways that racism, sexism, and homophobia exists as prism/prison of sporting consumption, and the ways that new media operates as a technology of surveillance and demonization, the treatment of Griner highlights the dreams yet fulfilled in Title IX. What should have been a celebration of her greatness and that of other female athletes is yet another moment of rampant sexism, homophobia and racism. Here are but a few of the tweets that echoed within the twitter world during the ESPYS:



·      And the best male athlete goes to… Britney Griner


·      Britney Griner should have won best male athlete…


·      If Britney Griner‘s straight then I’m an Angels fan.


·      Watchin the #espys……ummmmm Britney Griner sounds like a man……wow!!


·      The Heat win “BestTeam” category really? They should sign Britney Griner then they’d really be a scary team


·      Britney Griner is a man


·      The ESPYs made me cry tonight. Not because of Eric LeGrand or Pat Summit. But because of Britney Griner. That woman frightens me endlessly.


·      Britney griner screaming like a dude lol


·      Britney Griner has to be a dude


·      Britney Griner is a Dude her voice deeper than mine


·      Britney griner looks and sounds like a dude #BestMaleAthlete


·      I would rather have Britney Griner win best male athlete than Lebron. Because she’s WAY more of a man than he will ever be


·      Britney griner… Do your balls grow hair? #nodoubt


·      Cup check in britney griner please


·      I wonder if Britney griner is packing more downstairs than the #bieledong@BeingBielema


·      No one on this planet can tell me that Britney Griner is not a homosexual male. I won’t believe it. #ESPYS


·      Britney Griner’s voice scares me


·      Britney Griner…you just won best FEMALE college athlete, at least go to the ESPY’S dressed like a GIRL! Smh.


·      Are we sure that Britney Griner is really a girl??


·      If Britney Griner wins female athlete of the year at the Espys tonight I’m gonna throw a fit. She’s not even a female


Clearly, the 2012 ESPYS were another moment to mock and ridicule and to otherwise dehumanize Britney Griner. Demonizing her as “unattractive,” questioning her worthiness or the appropriateness of her receiving an award for “best female athlete,” and imaging her as a scary and disgusting Other, the Tweets are yet another reminder of how sports culture remains a space hostile to women, especially those who don’t fulfill male sexual fantasies.  In an effort to fully contextualize these tweets, I thought I would repost piece I wrote for Slam earlier in the year.


Continue reading NewBlackMan in Exile: Brittney Griner, Women Athletes and the Erotic Gaze.

NewBlackMan: The NFL or The Hunger Games? Some Thoughts on the Death of Junior Seau

The NFL or The Hunger Games? Some Thoughts on the Death of Junior Seau

by David J. Leonard | NewBlackMan

Last weekend I saw The Hunger Games. When I walked into the theater, I could not have told you one thing about the film, and if not for the uber publicity, I likely would have thought it was a show on the Food Network. While there is much to say about the film, I was left thinking about how it merely recycled the common Hollywood Gladiator trope. Mirroring films like The Running Man and The Gladiator, The Hunger Games highlights the ways that elite members of society make sport and find pleasure out of the pain and suffering of others. That is, they find arousal and visceral excitement in watching people battle until death. Within such a narrative trope is always a class (and at times racial) dimension where those with power and wealth (the tenets of civilization?) enjoy the spectacle of those literally and symbolically beneath them fighting until death. The cinematic representation of the panopticon, whether within the past or in futuristic terms, allows for commentary about the lack of civility, morals, and respect for humanity amongst the elite outside of our present reality. As these morality tales take place in the past (and or future), they exists a commentary about our present condition, statements about how far we have evolved and/or the danger of the future.

Yet, what about The Hunger Games in our midst? What about the NFL, a billionaire enterprise that profits off the brutality, physical degradation, and pain of other people? What about a sport that celebrates the spectacle of violence? Unlike The Hunger Games or Gladiator, films that depict a world where people bear witness to death, hungrily waiting the next kill, football and hockey fans sit on the edge of their seat waiting for the knock out hit, the fight, and bone crushing collision. The game doesn’t end with death but death results from the game. Out of sight, out of mind, yet our hunger for games that kill are no different.

Junior Seau committed suicide today; he shot himself in chest. While his death certificate will surely say “self inflicted gun shot wound,” it might as well say death by football. He, like so many former NFL players, have fallen victim to football-induced death. The links between suicides and concussions, between obesity and heart disease, and between drug abuse and post-NFL physical pain, are quite clear. The NFL Games are killing men before our eyes; yes, death is not taking place on-the-field with fans screaming from the rafters or the comfort of their couches, but make no mistake about, death is knocking on every player’s door. “Suicide, drugs, alcohol, obesity—are ailments the National Football League is getting to know all too well,” writes Dave Zirin. To him, Seau is yet another reminder of the brutality of the NFL and the callousness to this epidemic. He continues:

These are issues NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and the various team owners are loathe to discuss, but with Seau, they won’t have a choice. In Seau, a larger than life Hall of Fame player, we have someone with friends throughout the ranks of the league and especially in the media. It will be incredibly difficult to keep this under wraps. People will want answers. Over the summer, former Chicago Bears safety Dave Duerson took his own life with a gunshot to the chest so his brain could be studied for the effects of concussive injuries. Junior Seau now joins him, a gunshot to the chest. There is a discussion that the NFL is going to have to have with a team of doctors, players and the public. Right now, this is not a league safe for human involvement. I have no idea how to make it safer. But I do know that the status quo is absolutely unacceptable.

Lester Spence also pushes us to think about suicide as a potential consequence of NFL/NHL careers.

The first thing we should do is think about Wade Belak, Rick Rypien, and Derek Boogaard. They were three NHL enforcers (people who made their hockey careers through their fists rather than through their sticks), who committed suicide over the past year. Each of them had a history of concussions. Boogaard made the courageous decision to offer up his brain to science. The results suggest his suicide may have been the result of brain damage.

It is only after thinking about Belak, Rypien, and Boogaard, that we have the medical context to understand Seau. Not so much to understand why he committed suicide–if there were a simple relationship between concussions and suicides the suicide rate of former NFL/NHL players would be far higher than it is. BUT to understand how his suicide may be at least a partial function of his NFL career.

It is hard not to think about the consequences of sporting violence. It is hard to deny the implications here when NFL players commit suicide at a rate six times the national average; it is hard not to think about a rotten system when 65 percent of NFL players retire with permanent and debilitating injuries. It is hard not to think of the NFL and NHL as a modern-day gladiator ring where our out-of-sight childhood heroes are dying because of the game, because of sport, because we cheered and celebrated brutality and violence. It is hard not to think of the NFL as nothing more than the real-life hunger games, our version of death as sport, when we look at reports following suicide of Dave Duerson:

Continue reading NewBlackMan: The NFL or The Hunger Games? Some Thoughts on the Death of Junior Seau.

Under The Hood: A New Take On Activism In Sports | Racialicious – the intersection of race and pop culture

Under The Hood: A New Take On Activism In Sports

By Guest Contributor David J. Leonard

As individuals from throughout the United States and in other parts of the world voiced their anger and outrage at the murder of Trayvon Martin, there was an initial frustration from many in the social media world about the reticence and silence from today’s (black) athletes. The wish that athletes, and really black athletes–since it is rare to hear about the failure of white athletes–would uses their platform to shape change has become commonplace. So when the Miami Heat and several other players joined the calls for justice, there was certainly a level of joy and satisfaction.

Whereas individual athletes have a long tradition of protest and using the platform of athletes to express political sentiments, from Tommie Smith and John Carlos to Toni Smith, few teams have collectively taken a stand. Donning hoodies, the Heat stood in solidarity with Trayvon, shining a spotlight on the deferred justice in his case and the real-life dangers of racial profiling. As a team, they stood together as one, although it is clear that both Dwyane Wade and LeBron James were the ringleaders beyond this effort. The picture and the tweet, under the hashtag of #wewantjustice, were in fact the impetus of James himself.

Many have expressed surprise at the involvement of James and even Wade, given their emergence as America’s team to hate, as emblematic of the me-first baller generation. This is particularly the case for James, who has been subjected to endless criticism since high school. While much of the condemnation often focuses on his unwillingness to take the “big shot” in important games or his attitude, some progressives have lamented the lack of political engagement from James. While not unique in their eyes, his power and status elevates him in this regard. Writing about James’ refusal to sign a letter from teammate Ira Newble concerning China’s role in the Darfur genocide, Dave Zirin took James to task for his refusal to join the fight:

At the tender age of 22, you have the galactic talent to make us wonder if a mad scientist had Magic and MJ genetically spliced. But talent ain’t wisdom. In a recent interview, you said that your goal in sports was to become “the richest man on earth.” You also told ESPN, “I’m trying to be a global icon … on the level of Muhammad Ali.”

These dreams are compatible only if you choose to emulate Ali the icon and not Ali the man. Ali the icon is used to sell books, computers, snack foods, and anything not nailed down. Ali the man sacrificed his health, future, and untold millions by standing up to racism and war. No one is demanding you do the same. No one is insisting you get in front of a microphone and say, “I ain’t got no quarrel with them Iraqis.”

But you should understand that the reason Ali remains a “global icon” is precisely because he didn’t define himself by his corporate sponsors. When his handlers told him to stop throttling the golden goose of fame he said, “Damn the money! Damn the white man’s money!”

Seemingly challenging James, Zirin highlights a clear choice for the NBA’s next great superstar.

“The choice you face is frankly quite stark: How free do you want to be?,” he asks. “Do you want to be ‘King James of Nike Manor’ or the King of the World? Only by refusing to be owned, only by displaying independence from the very corporate interests that enrich you, will you ever make the journey from brand to three dimensional man.” With his participation with the Million Hoodie March, and the efforts from other Heat players, it is clear that not only has James made clear how he “wants to be” but silenced his critics by highlighting his willingness to take the big shot, one far more significant than any last game heroics.

At one level, the response reflects the connection that James, Wade, and several other players felt with Trayvon. According to James, “I have two boys, D-Wade has two boys and a lot of our teammates have sons. This could be one of our sons someday. The thought of sending your son to the store and never having him return is an emotional one for any parent.” In reading their statements, it is clear that their statement didn’t merely reflect their being fathers but father of black boys.

Continue reading @ Under The Hood: A New Take On Activism In Sports | Racialicious – the intersection of race and pop culture.

The White Coach’s Burden | Racialicious – the intersection of race and pop culture

The White Coach’s Burden

By Guest Contributor Dr. David J. Leonard

During my “glory days” playing high school football–among other positions I played linebacker–there was a game where, after several tackles (pretty amazing tackles if I remember them correctly), I found myself rolling on the ground in pain. Their running back decided to thrust his helmet into my gut leaving me gasping for air. I would later find out that the opposing coach encouraged his players to “take me out”: a helmet to the gut would do that for at least one play.

The fact that a nobody player in a nothing high-school football game between two tiny private schools in Los Angeles was “taken out” illustrates how encouraged violence is part and parcel to football culture, even if there were no “‘knockouts’…worth $1,500 and ‘cart-offs’ $1,000, with payments doubled or tripled for the playoffs,” rewards uncovered as part of the New Orleans Saints’ “bounty program” last week.

Yet, the NFL, much of the media, and others have acted as if the Saints’ actions are an aberration that can be easily corrected. As such, the league’s response was predictably clichéd:

The [anti-] bounty rule promotes two key elements of NFL football: player safety and competitive integrity. It is our responsibility to protect player safety and the integrity of our game, and this type of conduct will not be tolerated. We have made significant progress in changing the culture with respect to player safety and we are not going to relent. We have more work to do and we will do it.

The NFL wasn’t alone with its shock and outrage (and hypocrisy). The Los Angeles Times’ Bill Plaschke referred to the bounty system as “sanctioned evil” that in one game constituted a “blatant mugging by the New Orleans Saints.” Eamon Quinn described bounties as antithetical to the values of sports: “Such malicious intent—regardless of whether the particular hit was legal by the letter of the law—totally undermines the camaraderie and goodwill inherent in participation in sports. It is diametrically opposed to the inherently benevolent nature of sporting competition.” Similarly, ESPN’s Gregg Easterbrook identified the bounty issue as “Sinnersgate” which “is about being paid to cause injury, which takes a beautiful sport and makes it a low, filthy thing.”

Dave Zirin rightfully highlights the hypocrisy in the league’s resisting calls for reform while marketing itself on the “Orwellian staple” of comparing NFL players to warriors:

There is no morality in war — but that doesn’t stop our political and military leaders from insisting otherwise. Invariably, the enemy consists of immoral, medieval cave dwellers who respect neither human life nor the sacred rules of combat. Our side, on the other hand, engages in “surgical strikes” to limit “collateral damage” in a noble effort to liberate the shackled from tyranny. They tell us to ignore the innocent killed in drone attacks, the piling body counts, and just remember that our enemies are savages because they don’t play by civilized rules.

The moral indignity of the media is striking given its own promotion of on-the-field violence. The proliferation of a highlight culture dominated by jarring hits is as much a bounty as any direct or indirect payment system.


An ESPN culture that leads with bone-crushing, de-cleating tackles, turning relatively obscure defensive players into household names, illustrates the role of the media in offering incentive for viciousness on the field. The hypocrisy and faux-outrage from the media as well as fans, given the widespread acceptance of a culture of violence, seems more about disappointment the behavior of any coaches involved; bounty gate isn’t a challenge to perception of football and the NFL, but the league’s patriarchs – the coaches.

Continue reading @ The White Coach’s Burden | Racialicious – the intersection of race and pop culture.