Disclaimer: Let me start off by saying that I’m pretty clueless when it comes to sports. I learned everything I know about basketball from Space Jam. That said, if you’re still interested in what I have to say about discrimination, I’d love for you to continue reading.
As we know, the world of sports can be pretty discriminatory, due in part by the almost caricature-like extreme masculinity of professional sports. Michael Sam, an NFL prospect who came out as gay this year, has faced some backlash from homophobes already. And, like I said, he’s not even in the NFL yet. Just Sunday a spectator of the Barcelona vs. Villareal game threw a banana at Barcelona’s Dani Alves, a Brazilian. In response, Alves peeled and ate the banana, then proceeded on with the game.
Luckily, we’re seeing teammates, fans and the organizations themselves take action to quell these acts of hatred and discrimination. Sam’s teammates have shown support after his coming out. The banana thrower received a lifetime ban from Villareal and teammates took pictures of themselves eating bananas in support of Alves.
However, racists and homophobes are easy to find in professional sports. Take the recent Donald Sterling controversy. The Los Angeles Clippers owner was recorded telling his former girlfriend V. Stiviano to remove all pictures with black people from her Instagram. He tells her he’s not racist because he’s just going along with society, it’s all society’s fault. Then he digs himself deeper by telling her not to bring black people to his games. But no, he’s totally not racist. What a class act.
Well, the NBA didn’t think his little outburst was cute either. Adam Silver, commissioner of the NBA, announced today that he will be fining Sterling the maximum of $2.5 million and banning Sterling for life from any NBA games, practices and facilities. He also plans on attempting to force the sale of the Clippers in order to remove Sterling as the owner. Justice feels so good. It’s too bad that $2.5 million fine is just a dent in his $1.9 billion net worth–however, every penny of that $2.5 million will be going to anti-discrimination organizations.
Good on you, Adam Silver and the rest of the NBA. This shows that the NBA does not tolerate racism and sets an example for other professional sports organizations around the globe. Hopefully we’ll see similar anti-discrimination efforts made for Michael Sam and all others who don’t fit the image that Donald Sterling has for his fans and athletes.