Magog: Unguarded
Magog: Unguarded
Swarming Around... cats living with dogs... total chaos.

Thursday, October 02, 2003

I can't say that I either like or dislike Rush Limbaugh. I haven't actually heard his show (wherever and whenever that is currently) in several years. I always found him a bit blustery, and not terribly even-handed, so I more or less always dismissed him. Having heard the recent flap over his Donovan McNabb-related comments, I think he is getting a bad shake. First, here's what he said:
"I think what we've had here is a little social concern in the NFL. The media has been very desirous that a black quarterback do well," Limbaugh said on "Sunday NFL Countdown." "There is a little hope invested in McNabb, and he got a lot of credit for the performance of this team that he didn't deserve. The defense carried this team."

Over the past few days, I've heard various commentators call these remarks "insensitive." But, really, are they? Who is Limbaugh criticizing here? He's criticizing sportswriters, not McNabb or black athletes in general. I can't argue with his point. Every time an NFL team is looking for a new coach, for example, there is an onrush of sports columnists pontificating about the need for more black coaches and sermonizing about how unfair the league is to black coaches in general. Research any related Sun-Times column by Rick Telander or Jay Mariotti and you'll see what I mean. Given that, sports columnists do have a vested interest in the success of blacks in the NFL, if only to support their own views. So Limbaugh is not out of line in pointing it out, and he certainly is not being insensitive. You can argue until the cows come home as to whether Limbaugh is making a correct assessment of McNabb's NFL performance to date (I happen to think he is wrong), but that is the job of a sports commentator in the first place. Suggesting that being critical of a black athlete requires an apology or is somehow "insensitive" is to support the very bias that these people purport to decry.

UPDATE: Gregg Easterbrook gives some perspective on the Limbaugh situation. I think he makes some good points, but I think he still misses the salient point--that sportswriters, and NFL sportswriters in particular, DO champion the causes of black quarterbacks and coaches and therefore DO have a vested interest in their successes. That's not to say that they would coddle (and I'm not sure that's the right word, but it's the one he uses) EVERY black QB that came along. What's the point of hitching your wagon to an Andre Ware? But for a QB with a mucher greater upside, like McNabb or Culpepper, there is a stronger propensity for writers to give them the benefit of the doubt. Given that, I don't think Easterbrook makes a strong case for his "We're Way Past This" point of view. If we had left this in the historical dust, as he claims, then why do we still see so many sports columnists asserting the need for more black coaches and quarterbacks and, indeed, for the success of the same?

ANOTHER UPDATE: Susanna Cornett links to a sportswriter who verifies my assessment. So there.

posted by the wolf | 10:52 AM
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