I’m kind of glad Bryant Gumbel’s REAL SPORTS comments on the Olympics seem to be picking up steam around the blogosphere. It’s a very interesting discussion.
Gumbel took the Olympics to task for a number of things. Being boring. Being pointless. Being scripted. And being racist.
I’ve had the Olympics on in the background (not my choice) for the past two or three days, and I have to agree. The Olympics are boring and pointless. And while not necessarily a racist, exclusionary institution per se, there has to be some significance to the lack of diversity in the Olympics.
I don’t really understand any of the Olympics but I do know hockey, and I do know the barriers blacks have had in terms of breaking into the game. So while it’s easy to say ‘there are no minorities in the Olympics because minorities don’t play Winter sports,’ the issue is quite deeper. I urge anyone who thinks the lack of minorities in the Olympics isn’t significant to read Cecil Harris’ wonderful Breaking the Ice: The Black Experience in Professional Hockey. I’m willing to bet the challenges black players face (note the present tense) integrating into the NHL are comparable across many of the Olympic sports.
It’s easy to say that the bulk of the countries participating in the Olympics are predominantly white. But I know for sure there are lots of minorities in the U.S. and Canada. Where are they?
It’s an interesting and difficult question.
And in terms of being pointless, is there a reason we have NHL players going to play in Italy when we have a league with the same players right here in North America? In terms of hockey, all the Olympics does is disrupt the season and change the uniforms.
Oh. And as Damien Cox points out, injure the players.
Obviously, as Eric observes, Gumbel is a hypocritical blowhard. But in this case, Gumbel also happens to be correct.