Sports media and political correctness

April 6, 1987 is a day that lives on in sports infamy, but not for any specific athletic achievement on the field.  In a live, late-night interview in front of millions of viewers, Ted Koppel, the host of Nightline, asked then Dodger General Manager, Al Campanis, why there were so few African-Americans managing in Major League Baseball.  Campanis boldly replied that African-Americans didn’t have the “necessities” to become successful field managers or general managers.  In that same interview, Campanis also stated blacks were poor swimmers because they lack ‘buoyancy.”  Campanis was summarily dismissed from his position as Dodger G.M.

Only a few months afterwards, Jimmy “The Greek” Snyder, who had worked as a commentator for CBS’ NFL Today for twelve years, was fired from the network for stating in an interview that ‘blacks were better athletes because they were bred that way.”

More than any other two incidents, these two foolish statements, and the subsequent firings of the men who made them, were the driving forces behind our modern obsession with political correctness in the sports world and the medium that reports it.

The pearls of wisdom don’t stop there.  In October 2003, Rush Limbaugh resigned from his post as contributor to ESPN’s Sunday NFL Countdown after stating that the liberal sports media wants “black quarterbacks (to) excel and do very well so that their claims that blacks are being denied opportunity can be validated.”  His recent bid to become partial owner of an NFL franchise was summarily denied by the commissioner.

Michael Irvin was fired from ESPN after implying that Tony Romo’s athletic ability was probably the result of African-American heritage.  Don Imus was fired from CBS after referring to the Rutgers women’s basketball team as a bunch of “nappy-headed hoes.

Some might argue that the sports world has become too politically correct.  However, in light of such comments, there appears to be justification for this continuing trend and for the subsequent ramifications for those who violate its code of conduct.  Although we are a nation of immigrants and boast more cultures than any other country in the world, the majority of Americans are still unable to cope with differences in race, gender, culture and sexual orientation.  While we have made great strides in the last several decades, racism, both overt and covert, still plague our society.  Our trend towards political correctness is a direct effort to rectify this malady.  Obviously, it’s still not working.

We still have athletes like Gary Sheffield stating that baseball features more Latins than blacks because Latinos are more “controllable” or Torii Hunter calling dark-skinned Latin players “impostors.”  Michael Ray Richardson was suspended from his CBA coaching position for saying he had “big time, crafty Jew lawyers.”  In a Miami radio interview with Dan LeBatard, Tim Hardaway openly claimed he hated homosexuals.  To date, no high-profile male athlete has ever announced he’s homosexual while playing professional team sports for fear of the ramifications.

While groups like the American Civil Liberties Union openly defend our First Amendment rights to free speech, these rights do not apply to words spoken over radio and television media.  In America, we are free to say what and how we feel, but we must understand these words may come with repercussions, as seen in the aforementioned cases.

Is the sports world overly obsessed with political correctness?  One need only look to the make-up of the recent Monday Night Football broadcasting crew to find an African-American commentator, a Jewish broadcaster, a white former NFL player, and a female sideline reporter.  This was not done by mistake.  We have brought this on ourselves by failing to appreciate and value those who are different from us.  We live in a society that permits us free speech yet we still must be protected from that speech.  When you openly characterize a group of young, impressionable teenage girls as ugly or nappy-headed or hookers, or if you claim to hate a specific group of people because they’re different, then you probably need to take a deep look at yourself and determine what’s so perfect about you that allows you to judge so haphazardly.

If it weren’t for our over-emphasis on political correctness, we might go on thinking it is okay to hate, discriminate or sustain prejudicial beliefs.  Political correctness gets a bad rap.  It exists for a reason: to protect us from ourselves.  It is intended to educate us to respect and understand those different from us for reasons of skin color, background or religion, and to tell us what NOT to say.  Until we can learn to ‘just get along,’ it must remain in stern place.  People need to be held accountable for their actions and their words.  Our rights to free speech should be exercised carefully and not misused.  Remember that one day when someone discriminates against you.  You might not like it so much.

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52 Replies to “Sports media and political correctness”

  1. Excellently written, Chris! You hit the nail on the head. Society still needs to be reminded to respect and understand others, and to be gracious above all.

    Remember Howard Cosell’s statement “Look at that little monkey run?” The remark was condemned as racist, despite Cosell’s long record of supporting black athletes and the fact that he had previously used the same words regarding white players. Probably, there will never be another sportscaster like him.

  2. Nice sermon Reverend.

    My favorite part was when you wrote of people needing to take a good look at themselves before passing judgement on others.

    My compliments sir on a skillfully written and timely article.

  3. Agreed, Elizabeth.

    I think we sports junkies are waiting for the second coming of Howard Cosell. While there are some spectacular writers and broadcasters out there, we haven’t seen anyone who comes close to the commanding presence of Cosell.

    And I don’t remember that line. Can you imagine if anyone said that now?

    They’d be banished.

  4. Aer… thanks, my friend.

    This was actually a re-post saved back from our old He Said/She Said debates on Fox.

    But with the latest Kornheiser and Torii Hunter comments, I felt it was appropriate to put on the Chump.

    Don’t forget to get me your picks for the Bracket contest.

  5. Chris

    When you’ve alleged journalist making the most asinine of statements. Then you oughtn’t to expect anyless when they say something utterly stupid . The same can be said by the utter ignorance that has been shown by the likes of Campanis , Torri Hunter and within the realms of politics and alike George Allen , Jesse Jackson , Trent Lott and Al Sharpton.

    Allen if you remember called an Asian American male college student a macaque and then apologized saying that he didn’t realize that it was a derogatory term in calling him a monkey. WTF ?

    But that’s not to say that idiots such Bob Arum who called fans of the MMA retards white ignorant. This coming from the same guy who once described one of this African American fighters as ‘ that’s one of my dumb ni_gas that’s going to make me a hell of lot of money in the future’.

    You’ve got idiots in all walks of life even in the entertainment field. Do you think that Seinfeld’s Kramer Michael Richards would be welcomed in ‘the hood’ or various parts of Tampa where there’s a predominantly ethnic make up , particularly of the African American persuasion ?

    Alan Parkins

  6. We all say stupid things, Al.

    Unfortunately, some of us more often and more hatefully than others.

    I’m all for drawing ratings. I just don’t think sportscasters need to be unethical in doing so.

  7. You were so right about EVERYTHING! Even though we do have “freedom of speech”, people still should be held accountable for what they say and how it is perceived by others! Some less educated people that are watching TV may believe what they hear from these people and even repeat what they hear! Which could result in some messy things. Those statements that they make show us that we still have some way to go in over coming such raciest and discriminating thoughts that are still in the mind of people.

    As far as homosexuality goes, I do believe that there are some people currently playing that are gay and you are right Chris, they’re just too scared to come out due to the views of homosexuality that live today.
    Great Piece and I enjoyed reading it! 🙂

  8. The Tallahassee kid chimes in. Thanks for swinging by, Syi, and glad you liked the piece.

    What’s up with your site lately? You still knocking stuff out?

  9. Chris

    We’ve all got a moral compass within us. And it can’t ever be excused. If people think that it’s acceptable to denigrate a person because of race or religion then they’re simply being ignorant and showing a complete lack of intelligence.

    Woods in his contrived interview with ESPN’s Tom Rinaldi suggested that he got away from his meditating and sticking with the tenets of Buddhism. Damn right he got away from it ! His implied suggestion that he strayed away from those simple tenets shows that he just didn’t give a damn who he was inflicting his pain upon. Just as long as he was gratified sexually.

    Still under the impression that the Mavs are the second best team in the Western Conference ? The Hornets wailed on them like a dog and the Mavs simply played like one ! Two weeks ago they had a 7 game lead over the Spurs . It’s now down to 3 games. So you tell me what’s wrong with the Mavs ? I mean you’ve been jumping on that bandwagon as if you’d been riding bareback on of Sofia Vergara.

    Dropped this piece .

    Glib And Clueless As Usual ……………….

    Alan Parkins

  10. Nice to see you still believe that we all have a moral compass and that your years in Dundee haven’t worn you down to thinking differently.

    When I hear people say certain things out of the blue without even thinking about it first, sometimes I wonder.

    Let’s just say, living in Florida, it happens more than I care for it to.

    Is Tiger’s meditation sponsored by Nike, Al?

    And again, I think Dallas will be a tough out for someone in June. I’m not calling them to win it by any stretch but I do think they’ll go down with a fight.

  11. Chris

    I’m no Buddhist but having studied a great deal about Far Eastern customs and religion especially in light of the martial arts’ training and regime. I do think that Tiger made an a_s of himself when he mentioned about Buddhism and the fact he’d shied away from those tenets of the faith.

    As to the moral compass thing it’s simply about knowing what’s wrong from right.

    If Woods doesn’t know that fornication isn’t part of fidelity then why the hell did he get married in the first place ? It appears that he didn’t learn all that much having attended Stanford for three years ! Ivy League education my rear end , he was probably bonin’ more than spending time in the classroom. Never mind what he may well have been doin’ with his wedge and 9 irons at the time on and off the course .

    Alan Parkins

  12. Chris

    I hear that your boy Brad Childress is prepared to wait on Brett again ? What is it with the Viking coaching staff and front office ?

    Now this gives ESPN every damn reason to prolong this from now right throughout the NFL Draft and into the preseason. What the hell did any of us do to deserve this ?

    Alan Parkins

  13. Chris

    Three weeks ago the Mavs had a 7 1/2 game lead on the Spurs within the Southwest Division of the Western Conference. That lead is down to a mere three games. You tell me which of the two teams is actually playing better ? Like I said once before they’ll swoon in June.

    Alan Parkins

  14. Al… El Tigre did what he did and now it’s up to him, his wife and whatever higher power he chooses to believe in to make amends in his own life.

    It’s no quick fix and he knows that.

  15. Al… I hear that Childress is currently Brett’s manservant around his Mississippi mansion in the hopes that he’ll ultimately come back.

    That apron time might not be all that bad of an investment… if it works.

  16. After looking at the Western seedings, anything can still happen.

    Here’s where things stand right now.

    1. x-LA Lakers —
    2. * Denver 5.0
    3. * Dallas 6.0
    4. Utah 6.5
    5. Phoenix 7.5
    6. San Antonio 9.5
    7. Oklahoma City 9.5
    8. Portland 10.5

    With only a month left in the regular season, it looks like there’s plenty of room for teams 2 through 8 to either rise or fall.

  17. Often, things that upset the PC crowd most are actually said without malice. Take Kelly Tilghman’s suggestion that young players’ best hope to beat Tiger Woods was to, “lynch him in a back alley.” Clearly, she failed to consider the historical implications of using “lynch” in reference to a black man, but not many people(including Tiger) felt it was racially motivated. Still, she received a two week suspension from earning her livelihood.

  18. Chris

    It’s not the seedings that count but a team’s form going into the playoffs. I don’t really put much store in the seedings to begin with. That only helps out the likes of the guys in Vegas in laying their odds and then those who are far too gullible lay their wagers.

    El Tigre’s cojones are now being wrapped tightly in a vice.

    Check out this story courtesy ABC story. Wife sues the mistress for $9 million and won her case . I didn’t know there was such a law in N Carolina.

    El Tigre should consider himself extremely lucky that Elin hasn’t pursued either divorce or the same recourse as this wife.

    Jury orders mistress to pay wife $9 million

    March 23, 2010 — Her husband’s affair may have cost Cynthia Shackleford her marriage, but revenge has been rewarding.

    A North Carolina jury has awarded her $9 million. However, the money won’t come from her husband. The money will come Anne Lundquist, the woman he cheated with.

    “She knew that we were married,” Shackleford said on Good Morning America. She went on to say she felt compelled to sue because Lundquist knew the impact the affair would have but, nonetheless, persisted in her relationship and destroyed the marriage.

    North Carolina is one of seven states that allows for this kind of lawsuit.

    “The main defense is that the couple had an unhappy marriage. You can’t destroy a marriage, a third party can’t, if the couple was miserable in the first place,” said attorney Lee Rosen on Good Morning America.

    In fact, Shackleford’s husband even told a local newspaper he’d had numerous affairs.

    “I had absolutely no knowledge of any of his other affairs. We had a great marriage,” said Cynthia Shackleford.

    Lundquist told ABC News: “It would be inappropriate for me to comment further on the facts and circumstances of the case at this time.” She reportedly plans to appeal the ruling.

    Despite her sizable award, Shackleford insists it was never about the money. It was about sending a message.

    “As long as a couple is still living together as man and wife, still in the same home, the same bedroom, the same bed, lay off.”

    That North Carolina law has also worked for a wronged husband. In 2001, a man was awarded $500,000 because his wife had an affair.


    Alan Parkins

  19. @Elizabeth

    “Remember Howard Cosell’s statement “Look at that little monkey run?” The remark was condemned as racist, despite Cosell’s long record of supporting black athletes and the fact that he had previously used the same words regarding white players. Probably, there will never be another sportscaster like him.”

    Could not put it any better

  20. Damion….

    So did you think that Tilghman’s suspension was justified or have we become TOO politically correct that we should have let that comment slide?

  21. Chris

    Marriage as they say is meant to be a sacred institution. This country makes a mockery of it with the highest divorce rate in the world and that’s not only in volume but also per capita.

    Tried it once and never again as they say !

    How great was it to see Biden drop the f-bomb in front of the White House Press Corp with Obama at his side on the dais yesterday. How clueless is the guy to begin with. Did he not think that the mic would pick up the sound ?

    Alan Parkins

  22. Chris

    Amongst Childress’ duties for Favre now. He has got to check Brett’s prostrate twice a week with the use of his index finger and then his tongue. And he’s also got to muck out the pig sty on Brett’s farm in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. I’d say he’s been doing pretty well , wouldn’t you ? If that’s what it’s going to take to keep Brett happy as well as Vikings’ owner Zygi Wylf. LOL,LOL,LOL !!!

    The guys at ESPN can ride this story throughout the offseason as usual.

    Alan Parkins

  23. Chris

    If Chris Cohan is going to sell the Warriors . Don’t you think that it’s time that Donald Sterling and the Clippers take the hint and do the same thing as well ?

    I mean it’s not as if the Clippers as an organization with Sterling and Baylor at the helm were the epitome of class or even about winning to begin with !

    Once Dunleavy stepped down as GM , you knew that things just weren’t going to get any better. They’ve simply got worse. How ’bout moving the Clippers into the D League of the NBA ? I’m sure that they’d be even more competitive there ! Psyche , joke . LOL,LOL,LOL !!!

    They could also do the same with the Twolves and Nets

    Alan Parkins

  24. Pingback: Hump Day Links: Hot Cheerleaders, Elin, the New Jersey Nets & More | The Wife Hates Sports

  25. Al… personally I wasn’t offended by Biden’s statement.

    Sometimes profanity can be used to accentuate one’s feelings.

    And as Biden said, the health care bill is in fact a pretty big effin’ deal.

  26. Chris

    If the US wants to be the supposed moral flag-bearer that the rest of the world looks to. Is that the sort of behavior that ought to be exhibited the country’s second most powerful politician in-front of the world’s press and tv corps ?

    And then you have “the right” calling the Middle East barbaric and without beliefs ?

    C’mon now ?

    I love the fact that Reggie Bush hasn’t denied the fact that he’s been dipping his wick elsewhere behind Kim Kardashian’s back.

    He’s been reamin’ Carmen Ortega on and off for the past six months at least. Kudos to Reggie for balancing two chicks at the same time and losing perspective on it all !

    The Nets lose another game , do you think that they’ll break the Sixers’ record of 9-73 ? The Nets are at 7-63 at present with just 12 games to go ’til the end of the regular season.

    How Low Can You Go …..Or To Be More To The Point How Low Can It Get ?

    Alan Parkins

  27. Chris

    Biden is a walking nightmare and a text book as to why it’s best to not to be seen or heard . He’s a ticking time bomb of monumental gaffes that’d make Campanis feel proud.

    So the Eagles may well entertain the idea of trading at least two if not all three of their QB’s ? Why not throw out the baby and the bath water as well ?

    Reid: Team evaluating trade offers

    Andy Reid has said Donovan McNabb is his starting quarterback heading into the 2010 season.

    But the trade rumors around the team’s quarterback situation have persisted. And now Reid says offers are being made for all three of the Philadelphia Eagles’ quarterbacks — McNabb, backup Kevin Kolb and former Atlanta Falcons starter Michael Vick.

    Reid said Tuesday and again Wednesday that the team is entertaining and evaluating the offers, according to published reports in Philadelphia. He has declined to offer details about the proposals.

    “I’m listening [to offers] out there,” Reid said Wednesday at the NFC coaches media breakfast, according to “I’m not saying I’m doing anything. But we’re keeping our ears open.

    “I don’t worry about [what other people are saying]. It’s an evaluation process right now,” he added, according to the Web site. He also said he could see all three quarterbacks remaining with the team.

    McNabb responded to Reid’s statements via his blog at

    “My position hasn’t changed. I’ve said all along that I would like to win a Super Bowl and finish my career in Philadelphia,” McNabb wrote. “I understand the situation well and just hope whichever direction the Eagles decide to go in, they do it quickly. I think that would be best for me, Kevin, Michael, the Eagles, and any other teams involved.

    “No matter what happens, I’ve already begun preparing to have an outstanding season in 2010.”

    Reid broached the subject of trade offers on Tuesday.

    “This is the truth: Our three quarterbacks are Philadelphia Eagles,” Reid said Tuesday, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer. “People are entertaining us with offers. Nothing’s been done, but we’re evaluating all of them. That’s the truth. There’s not a lot really going on other than entertaining.”

    Reid would not address the team’s specific plans, according to the report, but said that from a coach’s standpoint, the Eagles are in an enviable position.
    Click on link to read article in full

    I guess Raheem and the Dom’ man aren’t interested in any of the three ? LOL, LOL,LOL !!!

    Do the Bucs actually have an idea as to what they’re doing in the upcoming NFL Draft ?

    Alan Parkins

  28. Rights, rights, rights, rights!!! That is all I hear about these days…folks seem to have forgotten that the equation reads something like this: Freedom = Rights + Responsibilities. Your eloquence regarding the nature of political correctness in our sports society and society-at-large gives me hope that at least one person knows his math.

  29. Al… I hardly think a little profanity compares to killing and warfare.

    Was it inappropriate? Certainly. But I say it all the time. And rest assured I’ll be using it on my internet radio show. It’s a good word. Very descriptive.

    Are you telling me Reggie Bush is sleeping with both Kim Kardashian AND Carmen Elektra. Not only is that legendary, that’s a lot of damn K’s.

    And I am officially over the Nets. Did you see where the owner got into it with some fan in the stands who was wearing a bag over his head?


    Like Jim Rome said, the owner should be glad that guy actually paid for a ticket to see that team.

  30. So where does Donovan land, Al?

    Tony Bruno was starting rumors about him going to Oakland.

    Isn’t that like putting him out to pasture of could he make them a playoff contender?

  31. Chris

    As of now who can say ? But I can tell you this , the moment he (McNabb) leaves the franchise they [Eagles (front office )] may well regret it. I can’t for the life of me understand why it is that most franchises around the league don’t start to groom a successor their incumbent starters. That’s now the fear I have with the Patriots once Brady either steps down or he’s away because of a prolonged injury.

    I mean can you name the backups for teams such as the Steelers, Cowboys , Patriots , Chargers , Colts or even the Bucs ?

    Andy Reid and Team President Joe Banner bet know what the hell they’re doing right off the bat. If they foul this up then the Eagles’ fans well be hanging effigies of them outside the stadium and then resorting to wearing paper bags over their heads to hide their embarrassment at attending Eagles’ home and away games.

    Alan Parkins

  32. Chris

    For your obligatory perusal pic gallery of Ortega. Click here to view.

    Carmen Ortega video . You better damn well like it or else !

    She’s one of these hot Latinas that Reggie no doubt met down on South Beach in Miami. That’s where I’d definitely go to get some action !

    Alan Parkins

  33. Chris

    Here’s another reason why sports and politics shouldn’t mix unless it’s for the right reasons. Spurriers’ Gamecocks in South Carolina.

    South Carolina pols call on black recruits to boycott Gamecocks

    By Matt Hinton

    Lingering racial tensions have made their mark on South Carolina sports for years, notably in the NCAA ban on all postseason games in the state in response to the Confederate flag that flies on statehouse grounds, occasionally exercised for conference tournaments as well. The latest protest, though, is coming from within the state’s own borders, by members of the legislature — including a former South Carolina player — who have begun encouraging black recruits to renege on their commitment to the Gamecocks in opposition to the pending exit of the only black member of the university’s board of trustees:

    State Rep. David Weeks, chairman of the Legislative Black Caucus, told The Associated Press on Wednesday that he doesn’t think there are enough votes in the Legislature to get lawyer Leah B. Moody appointed to a full term on the 22-member board next month. She is the board’s only black member and is finishing the term of a trustee who resigned before pleading guilty to bank fraud.

    “We are asking young athletes to be aware … there are folks in this state who say it’s fine to play ball but not be on the governing board,” Weeks said.

    He and several other lawmakers, including former Gamecocks lineman Anton Gunn, a black Democrat from Columbia, said members of the black community were calling recruits and their families and asking them to rethink playing for the school. […]
    Lawmakers would not say how many recruits had been called or whether any were reconsidering their commitments. They also would not identify the callers.

    Taking the fight to the football team seems like the last, desperate blow in an ongoing fight over the makeup of the board, which significantly underrepresents South Carolina’s black population even with one member. About 11 percent of the university’s student body is black, according to South Carolina’s largest newspaper, The (Columbia) State, as opposed to about 28.5 percent of the state’s population at large. Locally, the battle over that seat has simmered for months, but as a Southern native I say with confidence: If you want to increase the awareness of citizens in any ex-Confederate state about any subject — even race — taking it to the gridiron will never fail. (Earning sympathy for the cause is another matter. But people will pay attention — see comments below if you’re lucky enough to get here before I have to turn them off.)

    Click on link to read.


    The Confederate flag has its place in history. Whether or not it deserves to be part of this equation as it relates to sports is another thing entirely.

    Alan Parkins

  34. Al… Ya know what?

    I can understand both sides of the story. While one might think it inconceivable to trade McNabb, it might be the right time for Philadelphia to do so.

    If they’re set on Kolb as their QB of the future and he’s already backed up for three years, why not trade McNabb if they can land a huge deal for him?

    His contract is up next year anyway, isn’t it?

  35. After listening to her talk, Al, she’s certainly not the sharpest knife in the drawer. She’s good to look at but goodness, it was like listening to an episode of Jersey Shore.

  36. Chris

    What Reggie wants , Reggie’ll get. Apparently Kardashian is saying that they need a ‘cooling off period’ but they remain friends. Just the sort of woman I like ! Friends with ‘fringe benefits’ . What’s so wrong about that ? Reggie’s having his cake and eatin’ it in two places . Pardon the pun there.

    Racial tension in the South is a given it never actually left. When I was livin in Sth Florida in Broward Co. The epi-center for the Klan down there was a town called Davie. Not too far from the central campus of the Broward Community College.

    I had to go to a convenience store in town there. And the looks I got never mind that my accent at the time must’ve thrown them for a curve ball. A n_gga’ that actually speaks the Queen’s English . But they’re apparently use to that Southern drawl. So what’s up with that ?

    Alan Parkins

  37. Chris

    Any truth to the rumor that Calipari looks over the test scores and papers to make sure that they’re not overly intelligent and qualified applicants for MENSA ?

    Because as we know all he wants are players ‘who can ball’ and nothing else.

    Alan Parkins

  38. Chris

    What the hell is wrong with Urban Meyer ? Has his testosterone been replaced with estrogen ? What a flame out with the reporter from the Orlando Sentinel ? This is all much ado about nothing on his part . He’s far too sensitive for his own good ! He needs himself a ‘blinkie’ to pacify his persona and temperament.

    Alan Parkins

  39. Al… more power to Reggie if he can make that happen, I guess.

    I remember back in the day, one of my buddies suggested that the football players from Ole Miss should organize a sit-down right on the field during a big game until they changed the name of the team.

    I’m actually of the belief that eventually those schools and state capitols will take down the flag. I’m also of the belief that when that happens, it will cause quite an uproar.

  40. Al… say what you want about Calipari, the dude can land some talented players.

    And I’m as much a Gator homer as the next guy but I do have to say Meyer was probably a little out of line. Excitably boy.

    Although I would like to read that Sentinel reporters article to see if he embellished upon Deonte’s quote.

  41. I find it really strange that people are against the plans of the mosque, as the planned building isn’t purely a religious building. Heck, it is open to everyone, and even a basketball court is planned to be built inside the building. A community center is a better word, and way less frightning.

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