Last week, Los Angeles Clippers’ owner Donald Sterling made national headlines, and not for the right reasons. In an audio recording obtained by TMZ.com and reported by deadspin.com, Sterling can be heard telling his girlfriend, V. Stiviano, not to bring African-Americans to Clippers games. In this instance, Sterling was upset that she took a photo with Hall of Famer Magic Johnson.
Many former and current players have taken a decisive stand against the remarks. Johnson said he will not attend any more Clippers games as long as Sterling is the owner. Hall of Famer and current Charlotte Bobcats owner Michael Jordan had pointed remarks as well. Jordan’s full statement:
“I look at this from two perspectives — as a current owner and a former player. As an owner, I’m obviously disgusted that a fellow team owner could hold such sickening and offensive views. I’m confident that Adam Silver will make a full investigation and take appropriate action quickly. 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 ... In a league where the majority of players are African-American, we cannot and must not tolerate discrimination at any level.”
President Obama chimed in, calling the remarks “incredibly offensive racist statements.” What action the league and Commissioner Adam Silver will take is yet to be determined, but players, coaches and owners are demanding swift and decisive action. Whether the owners will force or pressure Sterling to sell the team, or will punish him in some other fashion, remains to be seen. For now, Sterling has been advised to stay away from the games, which seems like an obvious move.
While the comments don’t shock me – I’m not naive, I understand racism still exists – they do sadden me. Our country has made huge strides in the past 100 years to advance equality and reduce racism, and sports have been a major catalyst for racial harmony. Jackie Robinson broke the baseball race barrier in the late 1940s, furthering America’s race conversation and advancing the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s.
Sports have provided a valuable opportunity for me to engage with people from races other than my own and develop friendships that I might not have otherwise. I believe those shared experiences have made me a well-rounded man. Sports have allowed me to grow and mature, and they allow our country to do the same.
Unfortunately, racism will always exist, at least to some degree. But as a country, we can take a stand against it and make it clear that it’s not OK and has no place in sports. This country is a better place when we embrace our diversity, and promote love and understanding, instead of animosity and hatred.Jon Manley: 253-358-4151 firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: @gateway_jon