so larry bird sparked a little controversey yesterday when he said that the NBA is a black man's game. i think that it's going to be very interesting to see how this plays out in the media as far as how larry legend gets portrayed.
this kinda stuff is exactly what my thesis is about. in talking about sports there are certain things that you can and can't talk about. one of those things is race. it's actually really crazy if you think about it. there are fewer arenas of american life where issues of race manifest themselves so clearly, i.e. the fact that the great majority of NFL and NBA and soon enough MLB players are african-american. so it's clear that it's a major factor in the way sports is played both on and off the field, yet there is a strict rule about not talking about race and its role in sports. there are sanctions for talking about sports. a more obvious example would be when then general LA dodger general manager al campanis said that black people weren't management material and then got fired. perhaps a little less obvious example is when charles barkley likened the NBA to the slave trade. granted charles didn't get as much backlash, but he was portrayed by many pundits as a race baiter or someone playing the race card. by the way, don't you just love it when whitey tells you that you're playig the race card? as if racial discrimination is a lucky card that i happen to have in my hand and i'll only play it when it suits me best. f you whitey. anyways, both charles and al campanis were sanctioned because they broke the rules on how to talk about race. the point is, larry brought up race and my guess is that you'll hear newspaper columnist, talk show hosts and the like all say something like "i don't look at race, i just like good basketball players." this is what we call in sociology circles as the discourse of color blindness. if we can pretend that we've gotten over racial stereotypes, it actually reinforces discrimination because now we can blame an individual instead of the the 500 pd elephant in the room, racism in america. so it's ok to talk about how jackie robinson broke the color barrier, but it's not ok to talk about how the fact that kobe is black will affect how he is perceived in the media. as barthes says, myths serve to reinforce dominant ideology and the myth of sports is no different.