DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Let’s face it, we’re all racists. Or at least racial.
Then, amongst whites in the Metroplex, how are Josh Hamilton’s relapses met with compassion while Dez Bryant’s transgressions are grounds for expulsion from the community? Why exactly are Asians suddenly engrossed in basketball, the NBA and the New York Knicks? And how is it that, to Dallas Cowboys fans, Terrell Owens has alternated between villain, hero and back to villain without ever changing his persona?
The answer, of course, is color. Color of the jersey, in Owens’ case. And, when it comes to Hamilton and Bryant and Jeremy Lin, color of their skin. We’re guilty of migrating to our own, whether it’s our teams or our race. It’s not exactly racist, or a prejudiced belief that one race is inherently superior to others. But more so a desire to promote and prop up our own race, or at the very least to exhibit a tendency to root more vehemently for those that look like us.
Let’s examine the case of T.O. As a member of the San Francisco 49ers and Philadelphia Eagles, he was one of the most hated players amongst Cowboys fans. Then he put on a Cowboys’ uniform and was, instantly, wildly cheered as one of Dallas’ most popular players. Without changing his DNA one proton, Owens was transformed. How? Simply because of the color of his uniform.
Same applies to the meteoric rise of Lin, which has arrived accessorized by great basketball, horrible puns and a fascinating cultural study. Asians who two weeks ago didn’t know a basket was worth two points are suddenly hoops junkies. Attending Knicks games. Buying Lin’s No. 17 jerseys. Because he’s a good player? Yes, but more so because he’s Asian. Should Lin break his ankle tonight, the Knicks and the NBA will lose their Asian audience tomorrow.
It’s not racist. But certainly racial.
And as the two Florida teens reminded us this week in their sad, shocking YouTube videos, it’s the continuation of an unofficial race of race.
“Jeremy Lin is a good player but all the hype is because he’s Asian,” said boxer Floyd Mayweather. “Black players do what he does every night and don’t get the same praise.”
Asians root for Lin. Blacks vote for Barack Obama. And because they identify with his color – and his Christianity – whites sympathize with Hamilton.
As the AL’s MVP in 2010 and Rangers’ star outfielder, Hamilton is one of the best players in baseball. He’s also a hypocrite. His words, not mine.
“If I didn’t stay clean and sober,” Hamilton said in a 2008 New York Times profile, “I’d be the biggest hypocrite in the world.”
Evidenced by his January 2009 incident in Arizona where he drank alcohol and wound up shirtless and covered with whipped cream with college co-eds, and by last month’s hiccup at Sherlock’s in Dallas when he drank alcohol and, according to several people who have seen still images from a cell-phone video, engaged in sex in a bathroom with a woman who was not his wife, Katie, Hamilton is not the man he claims to be.
But the guy who appears in I Am Second commercials only to continually put himself first gets another mulligan from the Metroplex. In fact, our umpires rule that his check-swings never go around. If Hamilton was black or Hispanic, perhaps he’d be a thug or a punk or an addict. Instead, he’s merely lost a battle in the war against his horrible disease. His fight is somehow noble.
Hamilton is the victim; addiction the villain.
In the wake of Hamilton’s latest relapse I received numerous messages via Twitter and Facebook and email about Hamilton: “American hero”… “more respect for him than ever” … “nobody’s perfect” … and my favorite “don’t you dare judge him.”
Hamilton issued a press-conference apology. He was interviewed by James Robison on Glenn Beck’s Internet TV show. At some point he’ll be asked detailed questions about his night at Sherlock’s. He likely won’t answer. And I’ll be shocked if he adds a chapter or two to his book Beyond Belief about the incidents in Arizona and Dallas.
And, collectively, it seems the majority of Rangers fans will be fine with it. Why? Because Hamilton is a great player. And, just as important, he has white skin and a Jesus shield. Hamilton looks like us and believes what we believe therefore, he’s blindly given both the benefit of the doubt and third chances. What if Hamilton were, say, Muslim? Think about it.
Oh, and after he was asked to leave NorthPark Mall last year for hanging around friends with sagging jeans, my inboxes also filled up about the Cowboys’ Bryant: “Nigger” … “Cut the ‘coon” … “a black embarrassment” … “too stupid to ever get it.”
I can only cringe at the thought if Hamilton’s skin was black.
To root exclusively for your own color is racial. To root against every other color except your own is racist.
And to deny race plays a prominent role in sports is ridiculous.
Shame it’s so black and white.
(Copyright 2012 CBS Local. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed)
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