Monday, February 20, 2006

Bryant Gumbel: Gold medal jerk

I might be a little late to the party with this one, but for those who haven’t heard about it yet, I wanted to chime in on Bryant Gumbel’s remarks about the Winter Olympics.

Bryant’s not a fan of the Winter Games and he stated his reasons on the Feb. 7 edition of his HBO show “Real Sports.” You can find links to watch or listen to the commentary here or read the full transcript here. In the middle of his rant came this sentence:

“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.”
Wow. That’s a pretty bold and prejudiced statement. Granted, there are not a lot black athletes in the Winter Olympics. But what would happen if a white commentator said the NBA looks like an NAACP conference? He’d be crucified, that’s what would happen!

We should note, Mr. Gumbel, that American speedskater Shani Davis became the first black athlete to win gold in an individual event in yesterday’s 1000m race. Meanwhile, 2002 gold medalist Vonetta Flowers is going for another medal in the bobsled starting today.

But that doesn’t count for much because, by Bryant’s standards, they aren’t real athletes. Gumbel—who probably doesn’t care about any sport that doesn’t involve a ball—continued to take a shot at the validity of the competitors and their sports:

“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 sportswriters 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, when we can move on to March Madness — for God’s sake, let the games begin.”
I’m not a fan of, say, ice dancing. But I recognize the skill and athletic ability involved. I’d like to see Bryant Gumbel strap on a pair of skates and see if he fairs any better than the athletes who took nasty spills yesterday.

I have three figure skating nieces, two cousins who used to speedskate, a close buddy who's a "retired" curler and a co-worker who is also a competitive downhill skier. I wouldn't call any of them "pseudo-athletes" (well, except maybe Aaron ;-) ).

Just because a sport doesn’t interest you is no reason to knock these athletes who have worked so hard to get where they are. I have more admiration for a lot of them than for most of the multi-millionaire pros—and certainly more than I do for Bryant Gumbel.

1 comments:

Aaron said...

I totally agree with you on this one buddy. When the Gumbel "the womanizer" says things like this, he becomes part of the whole racial problem. He needs to go away with all the other womanizing biggots of the world.

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