Friday, September 02, 2005

Robinson, Parks, and McNabb

Continuing the theme of the post below, I wonder if ESPN will ever acknowledge that Rush Limbaugh was treated unfairly in 2003 for his comments on ESPN about Donovan McNabb.

To review, Rush said that McNabb was overrated and that there was "a little social concern in the NFL. The media has been very desirous that a black quarterback can do well—black coaches and black quarterbacks doing well. There's a little hope invested in McNabb, and he got a lot of credit for the performance of his team that he didn't deserve. The defense carried this team."

It is hardly new for a Sunday morning sports talking head to call a quarterback overrated. And most would consider it a good thing that the media want black coaches and quarterbacks to succeed. Is Rush wrong? Do the media want them to fail?

The criticism was that Rush somehow injected race into a totally colorblind system. But the coverage of the last Superbowl proved Rush right. There were countless references to Donovan McNabb's chance to be the first black quarterback to win a Superbowl since Doug Williams. This is hardly the same thing as being the first black (fill in the blank) ever, or since Reconstruction.

My theory is that every minority wants to be Jackie Robinson or Rosa Parks. They want to be the trailblazer whose accomplishments are even more amazing, given the hurdles they had to climb. If the media have to add a little disclaimer (e.g., "...since Doug Williams") to make the story work, so be it.

It follows that every reporter wants to be the lone non-bigot in the bunch. Kind of like Howard Cosell being the only supporter of Muhammad Ali during his draft controversy. It is these players and reporters that inject race into the discussion, not Rush Limbaugh.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Check out this link.

Major S., quit avoiding me. Call me.

September 02, 2005 4:02 PM  
Blogger chrisheadrick said...

As Derek Jensen once said: "Publicity hounds flock together"... in ESPN and Rush Limbaugh. Obviously, ESPN brought Rush in to make provocative statements to spice things up--I mean, whatthehell does Rush Limbaugh know about football?--and he obliged by slapping the race-card down on the table for attention. Such is the new low level of public discourse prevalent in our feverishly-competitive, ratings-dependent media age.

September 03, 2005 4:52 PM  
Blogger Peter said...

I am not sure he slapped down the race card, so much as he accused the mainstream media of playing the race card. Given the coverage of McNabb as seeking to be the first black quarterback [since Doug Williams] to win a Superbowl, Rush was vindicated somewhat.

We can argue whether the media are right about all of the hardships faced by McNabb, and whether his success is historic, but they cannot claim with a straight face that they are colorblind. Or that Rush Limbaugh injected race into a discussion where it did not exist previously.

September 05, 2005 8:50 PM  
Blogger chrisheadrick said...

Okay, I'll concede that the phrase 'playing the race card' should be reserved for those who introduce the topic into a discussion...

...nevertheless, I still stand by the assertion that CNN wanted Rush to stir things up, Rush was playing his hungrily, and this is what discussions on TV have come to: creating news and self-promotion. Derek Jensen's quote still applies, and rational discourse in the media continues to slide into attention-and-ratings-grabbing desperation.

September 07, 2005 3:37 PM  
Blogger chrisheadrick said...

That should be 'Rush was playing his *role* hungrily' in the above.

September 07, 2005 3:37 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home