Sprewell Vs. Kevin Greene:
Yet Another Racial
Earl Ofari Hutchinson, Ph.D.
Last year I listened for weeks to sports writers and talk jocks go ballistic when
Golden State Warriors basketball player, Latrell Sprewell mugged his coach. In a
two week span I counted 57 Associated Press wire stories on Sprewell. There were
piles of enraged letters in the New York Times, Washington Post, and the Los Angeles
Times blasting Sprewell.
Yet for some odd reason they haven't written one word of condemnation about the mugging
by Carolina Cougars lineman Kevin Greene of his coach. That's right, I haven't seen
or heard angry editorials, or columns, or talk show rantings that Greene should be
run out of football. And I have heard almost nothing from readers and listeners about
the Greene assault. Talk about hypocrisy, the double-standard, and yes, the word
that they hate to hear, racism. What else can you call it. Sprewell is black. Packs
of sportswriters and talk jocks called him a "thug" and "malicious."
Greene is white. Sportswriters call him "intense" and "competitive."
They cheered long and loud when NBA and Golden State Warriors officials virtually
ran Sprewell out of the NBA for his attack. It cost him roughly $7 million in pay.
But you have been stone silent about the handslap one game suspension by Carolina
officials (cost $117,000) of Greene and the refusal of NFL officials to take any
action against him.
But then again their silence on the Greene fiasco is better than the twisted gyrations
I've heard other sports jocks and writers go through to blow off Greene's action
when compared to Sprewell. They say: It wasn't done in practice. It wasnít premeditated.
He didn't utter threats.
This is hair splitting to the nth degree. An assault is an assault. If two Carolina
players hadn't quickly stepped in and pulled 6'3", 247 pound Greene off his
coach, they would probably have had to call an ambulance for him.
Further his attack was seen by millions on TV. Just what message does that send to
youngsters about sportsmanship, and character?
Sprewell isn't the first black athlete to get a hard lesson in, and Greene isn't
the first white athlete to benefit from, the racial double-standard. It goes like
this. When black athletes are accused of or are guilty of wrongdoing, their punishment
is swift and harsh. The public is merciless. They are pounded pitilessly by the media
and they become the eternal poster boys for deviancy and criminality. When whites
admit to or are accused of wrongdoing there is much handwringing, apologetics, and
kid glove rationalizations to explain their behavior, and their names quickly disappear
from the headlines. With Greene, his name never even made any headlines.
I can always count on the media to beat to death, revive, and beat to death again
the in and out of sports world misdeeds of black athletes such as Sprewell, Mike
Tyson, Daryl Strawberry, Dennis Rodman, Lawrence Phillips, and Michael Irvin. And
just as predictably, I can count on it to brush aside, apologize for, or make objects
of sympathy the misdeeds of white pro athletes such as Andrew Golota, Drew Bledsoe,
Marv Albert, and Mickey Mantle and football owner Eddie DeBartola.
Again, it's called the racial double standard.
Dr. Earl Ofari Hutchinson is the author of "The
Crisis in Black and Black"
email: Middle Passage Press
available at all bookstores!
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