Unfortunately, this week’s top sports story isn’t about the Wizards winning their first playoff series since 2005, the potential demise of the top-seeded Pacers, or the fantastic game 7s that are ahead in the NHL. Nope, it’s about Donald Sterling’s racist comments and his subsequent ban from the NBA and a $2.5 million fine. Additionally, NBA commissioner Adam Silver is trying to force the sale of the Clippers, which has been reported to be worth between $575 million and $700 million. Many people have voiced their opinion about Silver’s ruling and it seems as though the masses support the hammer that Silver brought down on Sterling. On that note, I offer up a couple of my own thoughts on this situation and what I think could have been done to improve the situation. But first, let me preface this by saying that I am in no way intending to offend anyone nor do I want to come off as seeming racist myself. I’m just trying to point out some facts and offer a different perspective.
Nowadays, racism in sports seems to be coming up as a relevant issue much more than it should be. We saw it in the NFL when they proposed banning the N-word during the use of the game when it’s been used in such context for so long. For whatever reason, some might not consider this to be a “racist” act since some of the time it’s not being used in a derogatory way like it used to be. On the other hand, Richard Sherman thought that the act of banning it was actually racist. I think he brings up a fair point here that I would like to relate back to Sterling’s case.
First of all, what happened to freedom of speech? Everyone is entitled to their own opinion and should be free to say whatever they want. Nevertheless, that doesn’t make what Sterling said right in any sense as it was offensive on several different levels. Yes, he is a leader in the community that should be setting an example for the many people that may have looked up to him, but reports have come out saying that he’s voiced similar opinions in the past, the NBA just hasn’t done anything about it. Besides, it’s not like Sterling has ever (to my knowledge) publicly commented on things like this until this got out, which brings me to my second point. These comments that Sterling made got out to the public because someone secretly recorded their conversation and sent it to the press. Granted, Sterling should have been thinking about what he was saying first and should have been more aware about the potential consequences of his words. Especially in today’s world where virtually everyone can be considered a part of the press with Twitter, Facebook, etc., high-profile leaders should be very aware of their surroundings and what the outcomes could be.
That said, I still believe that what Sterling said was wrong and he should have been punished, but was did this punishment fit the crime accordingly? To put it into perspective, Sterling has a personal net worth of $1.8 billion, which makes his $2.5 million fine equivalent to a $132 fine for the average American. And if Sterling is forced to sell the Clippers, he’ll still come out on top a solid $500+ million. I’m okay with this maximum fine and making an effort to remove himself from the Clippers organization, but what bothers me is the entire lifetime ban. When the NFL was discussing banning the N-word, the discipline was going to be a 15-yard penalty and potentially a small fine. So what makes Sterling’s situation so much different that it warrants him a full lifetime ban? I understand that Silver might have been using this to make some sort of statement, and I commend him for that, but is he going to give everyone who makes a racist comment a lifetime ban? I just don’t think that’s reasonable to expect.
To conclude, I think this whole thing got blown out of proportion a little bit. Like I said before, racism in sports is getting to be much too prevalent and I don’t think that this one case is going to change that. Everyone is always going to have their opinion, it’s just a matter of how many people find out and if it gets leaked to the press. This is a learning experience for everyone, and hopefully we can move past this and make sports a better atmosphere because of it. Thanks again for reading this week’s post. Be sure to join Fancred and check out my page.