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15 December 2008

Pot Calling the Kettle ... Black?

From the world of sports comes this disturbing tale.

At Auburn University, home to the recently coach-less Tiger football team and home school of famous alumni like Bo Jackson (1992), Rowdy Gaines (1982), Richard Marcinko (Navy SEAL), Jimmy Buffet and Charles Barkley (who didn't graduate).

Coaching candidates for their storied football program consisted of the defensive coordinator of their Tiger team in 2004 that was #2 in the Nation (who is now coaching in Iowa) named Gene Chizik and an former quarterback named Turner Gill, who recently coached at Buffalo. At least 1/2 dozen other coaches - including some of the nation's top coaches - were interviewed too.

But it was Chizik who got the job. And predictably, some of the Auburn fan base was apparently miffed, perplexed and perhaps even enraged.

Yet for anyone in, well, the real world, we know that when more than 1 person interviews for a single job, that the result will be one applicant hired and, yes, the other applicants not hired. Startling, huh?

But if you are Charles Barkley, then this process can't possibly be considered fair by any measure.

From ESPN: "Former Auburn and NBA star Charles Barkley ripped his alma mater on Monday, saying the only reason the Tigers did not hire Buffalo's Turner Gill as the school's new football coach is because Gill is black." Said Barkley: "I think race was the No. 1 factor."

Wow. Of course race is often and unfortunately the factor in a variety of decisions, but to suggest that they - Auburn's highly visible football program - would run off their previous coach for producing a losing season and then pass over what Barkley suggests is the best replacement candidate because of a non-competency trait like race is absurd. Absurd on many levels.

But absurdity and Barkley - and other of celebrity big mouths - are not strangers. He once commented that the Olympic sport of curling was too much like "dusting" and that "any woman can do it". In 1991, while still playing basketball and while engaged in verbal discourse with a fan, he spit on a little girl watching the game instead of spitting on the other fan, which he intended to do. He also frequently fought, physically, with other players and fans alike, which included fines and even an arrest for breaking a fan's nose.

He also denied that his gambling losses (reported to be over $10 million) are the result of an addiction, saying that gambling is not an addiction as long as he has the money to pay the debt, but abuse of drugs and alcohol are an addiction. That is until he got sued by one of Steve Wynn's casino in Las Vegas for $400,000 in unpaid losses. Then he acknowledged that perhaps gambling is a problem and he vowed to quit.

And so, because Barkley's mouth is bigger than his cerebral cortex, of course he continued with his commentary on Auburn's coaching choice.

"I'm just very disappointed," Barkley said. "I just thought Turner Gill would be the perfect choice for two reasons: He's a terrific coach and we needed to make a splash. I thought we had to do something spectacular to bring attention to the program. Clearly, if we'd hired a black coach, it would have created a buzz."

I'll wait while you re-read what Barkley said to put it in context.

Okay then.

So to summarize Barkley's inflammatory logic:

  1. Picking a white coach over a black coach is racist.
  2. Picking a black coach over a white coach is NOT racist but is "spectacular" and 'buzz-worthy'.

Charles needs to take a long, slow and purposeful drink of his own medicine, with a healthy dose of common sense, humility and race-relations 101 added for good measure.

In October 2008, 'Sir Charles' - as many call him - announced that he will be running for the office of Governor of Alabama in 2014. If there is ever a case to keep idiot's-out-of-office, perhaps Alabama voters should mark that date on their calendar.

Public figures all over America lose their jobs over lesser racist when we will see this standard applied to Charles Barkley?

TNT (the cable TV network that now employees Barkley as a commentator during the NBA season), are you paying attention?


Dana said...

It shames me to say this, but how many times have we seen that racism is NOT a two way street. Until that happens, this country will struggle to come to terms with the issue.

Michael M. said...

We do struggle mightily don't we? I suppose it won't get much better as long as people insist on labelling one another by their skin color.

Why can't someone of another color be called an arse without the name caller being labelled a racist? It befuddles me....