The Nation's Pulse

Bigotry and Sports

Why are most people not rooting for Barry Bonds?

By 5.9.07

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What a weekend in sports. At the Kentucky Derby, Street Sense blazed through the field to become the first two-year old champion in nearly thirty years to capture the roses. Floyd Mayweather prevailed over Golden Boy Oscar De La Hoya in a split decision to retain his reputation as the "best pound for pound" fighter in the world. There was near perfection for seven innings at Yankee Stadium, while the NHL and NBA playoffs crackled with excitement.

Yet on Sunday night over at ESPN, the news was: White folks don't like Barry Bonds because...he is black. Yes, racism once again rears its ugly head in the sports world. Why this constant drumbeat of race in a realm where integration was achieved long before it was in America in general?

Because, although not too many years ago, sports-writing was considered the "toy department" of journalism, the boys and girls in the press box have been eager to catch up to their counterparts in the "real" world. And so, they are also no longer content with merely reporting the scores, trades and what have you; they must now generate the news. And, similar to the mainstream media, they need divisive issues in order to push the agenda of all J-school graduates: to change the world.

Class envy, which is the one of the main devices used by liberals and their media wing to influence the masses, is not available in the sports journalists' playbook for obvious reasons. But racism; there's the true straw that stirs the drink of controversy, even when that cup may be empty.

Last week it was the Old Gray Lady who once again fanned the perceived flames between white and black Americans. The Times cried foul against NBA referees, citing a study that "suggests that a racial bias found in other parts of American society has existed on the basketball court as well." Notice the accusation in the opening sentence of the piece; the racist NBA refs are no worse than the rest of America's bigots.

You would think that the NBA -- where there is absolutely no hue and cry to balance the squads "fairly" along racial lines, nor any hand-wringing studies to determine why whites aren't proportionally represented on team rosters -- would be the last place where charges of white racism would be pursued, but you'd be wrong.

Forget for a moment that the study employs the usual kind of junk-science that liberals love; the real news here is that racism itself appears to be evolving. It seems we white Americans are racists even when we don't intend to be. Listen to Justin Wolfers, one of the study's authors, whose findings will no doubt spur the "hate crimes" crowd in Congress on to greater heights:

Theories of discrimination used to be pretty simple. It used to be one group hated the other group. There was malice. Thankfully, those types of bias have receded. (But) there's an emerging consensus in psychology and law that there may be unconscious forms of bias.

Such conclusions make one long for the days of simple, malicious bigotry, before unconscious behavior had to be ferreted out by the likes of Mr. Wolfers. Epitomizing the idiocy of all this is a telling quote from Minnesota Timberwolves guard Mike James, who said, "If that's going on, then it's something that needs to be dealt with. But I've never seen it."

Equally idiotic yet instructive was the ESPN/ABC poll so widely quoted during Sunday night's ESPN baseball game which featured the Phillies and Mr. Bonds's Giants. The poll, typical of those conducted by liberals -- its total of 800 people polled included an oversampling of 200 blacks -- still came to the conclusion that over half the country is rooting against Bonds's pursuit of Henry Aaron's homerun record. The results would seem pretty clear cut to all but those who conducted the poll:

However, race plays a unique role. Black fans in the survey are more than twice as likely to want Bonds to break Aaron's record (74 percent to 28 percent), and 37 percent of black fans think Bonds used steroids, compared to 76 percent of white fans.

The interpretation goes on to further dredge the racial waters without ever pointing out that the presumed white racists don't wish to see Bonds break the record of another black player. Also missing is the inference that, despite the fact that Bonds has become gargantuan in a few short years, it may be blacks who are biased in their belief that no steroids were involved. It seems the specter of racism, actual or subconscious, isn't a switch-hitter.

If there is white racism among fans in the sports world -- where the percentage of minority players far exceeds their representation in the general population -- they have a funny way of showing it; eagerly parting with billions of their hard-earned dollars year after year. If there is any animosity on their part, it is most likely a result of efforts to prove that they are what they demonstrate they are not. At least not consciously.

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About the Author

Lisa Fabrizio is a columnist who hails from Connecticut (mailbox@lisafab.com).