This new series is guest blogged by Doug Logan.
Doug Logan is an Adjunct Professor of Sports Management, at New York University.
He was the CEO for USATF from 2008 until September 2010.
He was also the CEO, President and Commissioner for Major League Soccer from 1995 to 1999. To read more about his background and involvement in Track, Soccer, Rugby and the Music industry, read my Freelap Friday Five Interview
This is his 42nd article. Click here for his entire series.
SHIN SPLINTS 2014
Racist Or Just Stupid?
My good friend, Adam Silver, the newly crowned Commissioner of the National Basketball Association is being put to the test. And by test I don’t mean the recently revamped standard for college admission, the SAT.
Silver is one of the smartest guys I know. He is also thoughtful, judicious and makes carefully calculated decisions. I used to work out with Silver in the same Crunch gym on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. We were both drawn to late-night workouts because of our work schedules. You could always tell when he was in the club because there would be a pile of newspapers next to the exercise bikes. The consummate multi-tasker!
During his career at the NBA, Silver distinguished himself by burnishing the brand as chief honcho for NBA Entertainment. In the past few years he has worked side-by-side with his genius predecessor, David Stern, and knows every nook and cranny of the institution. There was no search to replace Stern; the heir has been groomed for years to take over the top position. This is the way a good succession plan is supposed to work.
In the past few weeks there have been a handful of minor, unfortunate incidents related to the sport. Most of them have been a consequence of on-court misconduct. There was also the arrest, on a weapons charge, of the starting point guard of the New York Knicks. Commissioner Silver has chosen to solve these common, but irritating, problems in a low-key, out-of-the-headlines way. This has elicited the scorn of the journalistic blowhard, Tony Kornheiser, the co-host of ESPN’s Pardon The Interruption. Kornheiser has called Silver “soft” for not coming down hard publicly on offenders.
Now Kornheiser has never been one to shrink from cheap-shot name calling. About seventeen years ago he wrote a derogatory piece about yours truly in The Washington Post. For some bizarre reason he chose to describe my appearance by saying that I “…look like a Serbian ethnic cleanser.” I guess he was trying to remind me to get a haircut.
Last Sunday evening the new Commissioner’s “honeymoon” was interrupted yet again. Pat Garofalo, a 5-term Republican lawmaker from the St. Paul, MN, suburb of Farmington, sent the following message on his Twitter account:
“Let’s be honest, 70% of teams in the NBA could fold tomorrow + nobody would notice w/possible exception of increase in street crime.”
In a further, supposedly clarifying, email Garofalo noted the league’s “…high arrest rate.” These outlandish claims were “retweeted” thousands of times and there was a firestorm of response.
Not that we should let the facts get in the way of political stupidity. There were only 7 NBA players arrested in all of 2013, which works out to less than 1.5% of all players. This statistic compares favorably with 2.9% arrested players in the NFL, and also with the population, in general. A whopping 10.8% of males ages 22-34 were arrested in this country last year.
It would be easy to conclude that this insensitive post is just another example of overt racism. The NBA is composed of over 75% African-American players and the early hue and cry from pundits, bloggers and the public expressed that sentiment. Racial stereotyping of black males, in general, and tattoo clad “ballers” in particular, perpetuates the fiction that athletic teams are just a collection of street thugs. It is just not true.
Another easy conclusion that could be reached about this incident is that Garofalo is just another racist, backward, conservative Republican politician, serving up red meat to his bigoted following. The factual basis for this assumption is somewhat blurry. On Monday, Garofalo published a public apology for his Tweet, and went on to say that “…one of his proudest achievements was his time tutoring in inner-city Minneapolis”. It was widely reported that last year Garofalo was one of only four House Republicans who voted in favor of legalizing gay marriage.
So, what are we to make of this? Is Garofalo a racist? Possibly. Is he stupid? Probably.
What I am sure of is that he is just another “jock sniffer”, trying to aggrandize himself using social media. Who the hell has given him the bona fides or standing to be a quoted expert in this profession? He is just another bozo out there tweeting shit and thinking his stupid thoughts really count.
And what was Commissioner Silver’s response. Early in the week, Stephen A. Smith, the voluble, screaming analyst, joined by Kornheiser, commanded that the new Commissioner had to insist on an apology. This is after Garofalo had already apologized to the league, its players and its owners. “Adam, do something!” Very patiently and quietly, Adam Silver did the right thing. Nothing at all. He let public sentiment do his work for him and refused to escalate an act by a moron into a conflagration.
Pretty good leadership, if you ask me. The guy gets an A+ on his first test.