Wednesday, April 02, 2008
Who knew that a great center winning the Player of the Year award in College Basketball would cause such great controversy? Of course I'm talking about no other than UNC's Tyler Hansbrough and his umm, caucasianess.
Everything was going along swimmingly in the tournament and all the number one seeds were advancing with ease like they should. That's when Jay Bilas decided to go overboard in praising one player and the flood gates opened up. So much so that he's emailing reporters from the Baltimore Sun and ESPN employees are calling each other out. Where do I even start? Let's go in chronological order....
1) Last Week: Skip Bayless and Rob Parker dismiss Tyler Hansbrough for his whiteness. Let's Go To The Videotape!
Now there's a few problems with this (not Rob Parker calling Eric Montross, Eric Mondross). Yes it's idiotic, but it's borderline racist. And ESPN's LZ Granderson was there to explain....
Could you imagine what would happen if Hollywood released a comedy about football entitled "Black Men Can't Throw"? Rush Limbaugh would be sitting in the theater chuckling with a box of Ho Hos in his lap as movie execs tried to explain to Jesse Jackson and/or Al Sharpton why he/they should not be offended. Yet men and women of both races who are otherwise intelligent not only embrace the notion inherent to "White Men Can't Jump," but it is spoken about as if it's scientific fact.It almost seems as if ESPN might be pushing the race angle just to get controversy doesn't it LZ? I mean why else would you bring up race when it has nothing to do with anything right (*ahem* Jemele Hill!)? There is a time and place for race discussions but when you force the issue it just comes across as callous and petty. Yes there is a problem, and yes there are biases towards black athletes, but drawing attention to it in this light only makes it worse.
This is true in the barbershop.
This is true at the local Y.
Apparently it's true on national television as well.
Just last week I watched a pair of journalists dismiss the pro potential of both Tyler Hansbrough and Kevin Love for no other reason than their skin color.....
......If I've said it once, I've said it a thousand times, racial reconciliation is a two-way street. You can't say Hansbrough won't make a good NBA player because he's white unless you are prepared to also say Oregon's Dennis Dixon won't make a good NFL quarterback because he's black. For every Larry Bird there is a Doug Williams. For every Big Country there is a Stanley Roberts. You'd think we'd figure that out by now, but apparently not.
So with that out of the way let's move onto the completely separate issue of Jay Bilas.
2) Jay Bilas goes gah-gah over Hansbrough and Baltimore reporter calls out Bilas and hints at racism.
Via the Baltimore Sun....
Here's some of what Bilas had to say: "He's not supposed to be able to make those [shots from beyond 15 feet]. ... He's willing the ball into the basket. ... His will exceeds his skill, and his skill is considerable. ... Michael Jordan did not out-compete Tyler Hansbrough -- no way."Here's the thing. Sure Bilas went over the top when praising Hansbrough EVERY SINGLE play, but there's nothing wrong with an announcer marvelling at a player's ability. It happens all the time regardless of race and I've heard Bilas praise numerous players both black and white. It's just the amount of times he did so and at the oddest times that made it stick out to everyone. Here's what Bilas had to say in response to the above statement....
The problem is hearing the hosannas for Hansbrough with an ear for what has come before. We're back in familiar territory here. The star white player -- no matter how clearly talented -- has somehow elevated himself through the sweat of his brow. The star black player, meanwhile, is doing amazing things on the court because his talent is carrying him.
Please accept this in the spirit it is intended. I respect your opinion and judgment, and I would never contact you to question your likes or dislikes regarding broadcasts, broadcasters or the like.Good for Bilas. Broadcasters will always be biased over certain players and teams because that's who they enjoy, played for, or grew up with. Some are obviously worse then others (*ahem* Mike Patrick), but they're human. The fact that Bilas is praising an individual player at UNC when he went to Duke should speak volumes for his credibility if you ask me.
However, I do take exception to your implication that the comments regarding Tyler Hansbrough were racially motivated. If you recall, I compared Hansbrough favorably to the hardest worker and greatest competitor the game has known, Michael Jordan. If you will recall as well, I have praised Curry all season for being a smart player and one that really knows how to play. I have praised countless others for their work ethics.
Reasonable minds can differ on the matters we normally discuss. However, the implication from your point that was directed toward me is offensive and contrary to clear evidence. Such matters require a higher level of discussion, in my judgment, and I believe your blog item regarding me was incorrect and unfair.
I don't mind race coming up and/or discussing it, but when media members use it to gain attention (when it clearly doesn't need to be brought up) it really really bothers me. No matter if said media member is black, white, or green.
Jay Bilas Responds (Baltimore Sun)
Who says white men can't jump? (Page 2)