Sunday, November 26, 2006

Hence the Title


There is a reason why "Leave the Man Alone," was a phrase that stuck in my mind when thinking about sports and inspired me to create this blog. The target du jour is Michael Irvin. Michael Irvin appeared on the Dan Patrick radio show this past Tuesday and kinda sorta inferred that Tony Romo has some Black heritage. Look, I was listening to the show during Irvin's appearance. I knew what he was saying when he said it. I thought it was a little racy at the time (pun intended, dah-da-da-da!), but it did not elicit special attention at the time. It was clearly a joke. Quoting the statement in print does not really convey the tone of its delivery. Irvin didn't even really commit to it. Patrick kind of prodded him. Irvin kind of stammered through it. Then they just dropped it.

Nonetheless, this story is slowly picking up steam in the media. The Fanhouse tracks the journey. The complainers are like, "Dude, it's so unfair! What if a White guy said that?" The truth is that most of the people complaining about Irvin's comments are probably more interested in getting Irvin fired for generally being an annoying loud mouth than trumpeting racial equality in sports. Well, what if a White guy said something like, "Donovan McNabb must have some White in him because he throws the ball so accurately?" Well, first of all, McNabb probably does have some White in him (that whole slavery thing), so it would probably be an accurate statement. (Ha! Take that.) But analysts say things like that in code all the goddamn time. Things like, "so and so [insert name of Black athlete here] is so articulate." But those same analysts are rarely doing it in a joking manner. It's not really a tit for tat kind of thing. The truth is White people are so frickin' great at everything, it's hard to isolate standout characteristics to make analogous statements.

I'm pretty sure that Irvin meant what he said as a compliment, but I have to wonder if some people take the statement as an insult - that Romo is tarnished by the suggestion that he could be part Black. Is it more outrageous to suggest Romo has a future with Jessica Simpson than that he might be part Black? But I guess Romo couldn't be the latest greatest White hope then. But there is no need to worry. Romo is still shaping up to be heir apparent to Peyton Manning as the sports media darling (for many reasons).

While I don't know if Irvin's statement was exactly in the safe category, there are definitely some socially acceptable, yet racially stereotypical, statements you can make that everyone will know what you mean and everyone will have hearty laugh and move on. Comedians (not Michael Richards) trade on this all the time. Let's see... You can "dance White." If a White guy came to a party and played dominoes well, I suppose he could be accused of playing dominoes like a Black guy. I guess if I went out on the golf course with some of my White friends and they said I play like a White guy after I beat everyone in the group, I probably wouldn't be offended. (..but I don't know that for sure because none of my White friends have ever invited me to play golf with them. But I'm not bitter or anything...) I'm sure there are more examples of "fun racial stereotyping." What else do people do "White", "Black", "Mexican", etc. Anyone, anyone?

But you shouldn't be surprised that a woman who said Merril Hoge dressed Black is defending Irvin. I have to openly wonder whether Merril would be offended.

But if Rush Limbaugh wants to scream to the rafters about the hypocrisy of it all. He's entitled. Fair is fair.

6 comments:

Pacifist Viking said...

I've been thinking/writing some of the same things.

Atomik said...

Jimmy the Greek Snyder was fired three decades ago for making the same comments at a truly casual benefit function. Double Standard. If I make the comment that I dislike both Irvin and Shannon Sharpe for murdering the English language that's labeled rascist. Wrong! If they were any color I would be at my wits end. BTY stop right there if you intend to label me a rascist. I have and have had Black Nieces and Nephews for three decades in my family. Don't look for something that isn't there. Peace!

doublenicks said...

I hate to be near anywhere near the same side of an argument as Rush but I think what Irvin says was offensive. Oddly, in some ways, the person it was least offensive to was Romo. There are three things that bugged me: 1) Irvin sounded like he was on something - shocker 2) the double standard - if Dan Patrick said it, people would be losing their shit, and 3) I think it demeans black athletes (not to mention Romo) by shifting the focus from the amount of hard work required to be a professional athlete to genetics.

Head Chick In Charge said...

Atomik, I was a kid when Jimmy the Greek made his infamous comments. Even as a kid, I knew that what he said was 100% correct. I have always thought it unfortunate that he was maligned the way he was. There is definitely a double standard. I can't deny that.

I wouldn't label you a racist at all, but I would probably assume that you aren't Southern. When I listen to Sharpe and Irvin, I just hear extreme Southern dialect. (lso, with Sharpe he has a lisp. I'm still not clear on why he is a broadcaster.) To me, they don't make grammatical mistakes so much more than any other analyst. But I think they stand out because there aren't a lot (if any) analysts that speak with that type of Southern accent. Now, if you want to talk about Charles Barkley butchering the language, that's another story...

Head Chick In Charge said...

doublenicks, I definitely think reasonable people could differ on whether Irvin crossed the line. But I don't think it was any more offensive than saying something is "gay." Admittedly, I am trying to monitor my usage of that characterization too.

Irvin was making a convoluted satire on how Black quarterbacks are characterized as "athletic." Tony Romo is an athletic quarterback, therefore he must be Black. I don't think it necessarily demeans me or any other Black person to discuss all of my characteristics. There are indeed genetically and environmentally induced characteristics to me. Balanced, open forums are hard to come by, but if you happen to be in one, say whatever you want. I think that part of the reason I wasn't outraged at the comment was because he was talking to DP. Mike said something silly. DP giggled and checked him as necessary. That's fine with me. I don't want political correctness, I want balance.

DP said...

the primary difference between what Irvin said and what Limbaugh said is the obvious joking parallel...and the minor issue that Rush opined that there was some conspiracy of silence in the media regarding the talents of Black quarterbacks...(a tidbit still shared by MANY football fans)

what Michael Irvin did was intended as a joke...but the potential fallout isnt all that funny.

making joking references to miscegenation during slavery in someone's heritage PROOOOBABLY isnt where we want to place the bar on humor on sports talk radio...

I always thought Jimmy the Greek got the ax cause CBS needed a reason to do it and they were too lazy to think of one themselves.