Sunday, October 05, 2003

ON THE MCNABB/LIMBAUGH THING
Since everyone else, even those who confess they know next to nothing about football has wieghed in on this have done so, I figured I may as well. Especially since I'm one of the few people who actually watched Limbaugh utter the controversial words.

Yes, it's true. We went to late Mass last week, and I had ESPN on as I was reading the Sunday paper. Limbaugh made his point quickly, trying to squeeze his words in. It did not seem like a big deal.

I think a lot of the people who a re "shocked" have never watched one of these Sunday morning programs. Suffice it to say that they are not a bastion of well-considered opinion. It's sort of Crossfire meets sports talk radio, with a few updates thrown in for gamblers.

Limbaugh has a point, but he made it crudely. This is par for the course on these shows. An enterprising person could probably make everyone on these shows look foolish by viedeotaping predictions they make that don't come true, analyses that prove incorrect, and statements that they later contradict.

Anyway, in yesterday's paper, Leonard Pitts has a column saying how demaning it is to be reduced to a color. He compares McNabb's experience to Keith Van Horn:

When he entered the NBA a few years ago, he was compared by some to Larry Bird, one of the last U.S.-born white guys to be considered a basketball immortal. Van Horn was called, quite openly, the "great white hope" of a league that had become overwhelmingly black.

Sorry, I don't remember this hype. I remember he had a great career at Utah, leading that program to new levels of prominence, and his game was compared to that of Larry Bird. But I don't think anybody thought he was the vanguard of a new era of white dominance in the NBA.

It's also interesting that Pitts brings up Bird without referring to Isiah Thomas's equally outrageous comment that if Bird was black he'd be just another ballplayer. Bit I digress.

Pitts goes on...

To put it another way: For all the similarities, there's a difference between Van Horn's experience and McNabb's. Whatever else he's had to deal with, Van Horn does not have to bear the weight of legacy. He struggles against no long history of people saying white guys are not good enough to play the game.

Excuse me? Wasn't there a movie called "White Men Can't Jump?" I don't remember the "Black Guys Can't Read The Cover 2" movie.

What would be more accurate would be to say that Van Horn didn't have to deal with a legeacy of exclusion.

Anyway, I still dispute the notion that there is much "similar" about Van Horn's experience. If anything, I would say McNabb deals with greater expectations than Van Horn ever had to deal with. He is the QB of a team with the defensive talent to win the Super Bowl in a large football-mad town. Van Horn has been the third best player on whatever team he's on for several years now.

Finally , there's this:

I do, however, know something about the kind of thinking - I use the word advisedly - that says this or that black man only got where he did because of race. In the wake of the Jayson Blair scandal, we all do.

You remember what was said: Poor little colored boy elevated beyond his modest abilities by well-meaning white liberals at The New York Times. It is a caricature beloved by some on the political right. So beloved that they are blind to the patronizing assumptions and rank hypocrisy at its core.


What Pitts doesn't say is who is doing the patronizing, and whether those assumptions are true. He doesn't dare say that affirmative action and set-asides might have something to do with this notion.

Here's a question: How much quicker might Michigan State have fired Bobby Williams if they weren't aware they's be reducing the number of black head Division I-A coaches by a third?

What Pitts is saying (by his omission of affirmative action) is that it's OK to consider race at the beginning, but not OK when to examine those policies when the results are substandard.

And that's what's draining and demeaning. It builds a culture of entitlement rather than accountability, so Jason Blair can go sell his story and not feel the least bit bad about it.

If affirmative action is such a great policy, it should be able to stand up to scrutiny and criticism. The results should speak for themselves. There should be no need to cry "foul" whenever someone questions whether it might be leading to some undesirable conclusions.

But it's not.

Donovan McNabb has an opportunity to prove Rush Limbaugh wrong every Sunday when he takes the field.

If his defenders would only let him instead of turning him into a martyr.
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