The wide world of sports has always been littered with wild and crazy personalities. There have been some great minds in sports, some of the most caring and accepting people in the world were once professional athletes. The thing about our world, however, is that as much good as there is in it, there is usually an equal amount of bad.
There have been some changes in the world over the past 30 years, in terms of political correctness and watching what you say in hopes to not offend anyone. Some people are not happy with these changes in our culture, but ultimately we all agree that there is no place for racism or hatred in the world. The thing about entertainment these days, is that the entertainers have microphones in their faces seemingly all the time, and occasionally people slip up and their true feelings come out on camera.
This list will show that there is still plenty of racism in the world of sports as well as show that some people are just ignorant with their words. It can be easy to forget, but it was only 69 years ago that black men were not even allowed to play in Major League Baseball games. Progress has happened quickly in some of these instances, but there is still progress to be made, as evident by some of the remarks on this list.
There is no place in sports for racist remarks intended to hurt people. We all want to thing that is universally understood and agreed with, but today we will see that not everyone in the world of sports agrees with that. As we get into the list, I do believe it is right to remind people that we should not let the ignorant words of a select few let us believe the world is not making progress. We are in an election year in America, and it is important to keep in mind what we want out leaders, entertainers, and sports stars to represent. Here are the 15 most racist statements made in sports in the last 30 years. Hopefully it's the last time we hear things as atrocious as these.
15 Don "Moose" Lewis Bans Blacks From Baseball
Hopefully you have never heard of this clown, but Don Lewis is a boxing and wrestling promoter. In 2010 he attempted to start a whites only basketball league in Georgia, that's right a whites only basketball league, in the 21st century! Unsurprisingly, the league never got off the ground. How would it ever? What sponsors would ever want to associate themselves with such a racist league? What self-respecting player would want to support such a disgusting cause? The funniest part about this (if you can find any humor in it) was Lewis trying to justify what he was doing it.
When attempting to get the league up and running Lewis was quoted as saying, “There’s nothing hatred [sic] about what we’re doing. I don’t hate anyone of color. But people of white, American-born citizens are in the minority now. Here’s a league for white players to play fundamental basketball, which they like.”
If you've ever heard a statement in your life that reeked of horse manure, this was probably it. Is Lewis really one to believe that this could be perceived as anything but racist?
14 Voula Papachristou On The Mosquitoes
The 2012 summer Olympics saw a pretty grotesque display of racism take place on Twitter. Greek track star Voula Papachristou tweeted a comment about the mosquitoes she said, "With so many Africans in Greece...the West Nile mosquitoes will at least eat homemade food!!"
Whoops, probably not the best thing to say while attending the world games, where many Africans were invited. Since that statement, Papachristou has won a bronze medal at the World Indoor Championships earlier this year. She took a break from the sport following the birth of her daughter. It's unlikely she'll ever be held in high regard again due to this idiotic statement she made a few years ago.
She issued a lengthy apology following that tweet, stating: "I would like to express my heartfelt apologies for the unfortunate and tasteless joke I published on my personal Twitter account.' She continued: ‘I am very sorry and ashamed for the negative responses I triggered, since I never wanted to offend anyone, or to encroach human rights."
Whether the apology was sincere or not, remember athletes, think before you hit that send button. There's no going back once you do.
13 Rob Parker On RGIII
ESPN once had an personality named Rob Parker, he was one of the guys who would do the First Take show on ESPN. When the subject of Robert Griffin III came up, Parker questioned RG3's "blackness", whatever that is supposed to mean. Parker said of RG3,
"He's black, he does his thing, but he's not really down with the cause. He's not one of us. He's kind of black, but he's not really like the kind of guy you really want to hang out with." Parker also referred to Griffin as a "cornball brother".
This was about as idiotic as you could get. When you tackle the subject of race and you make Stephen A. Smith uncomfortable with your statement, you know it's bad. Parker wasn't done there. He also went on to say.
"I want to find about him," Parker said. "I don't know because I keep hearing these things. We all know he has a white fiancee. Then there was all this talk about he's a Republican, which there's no information at all. I'm just trying to dig deeper into why he has an issue. Because we did find out with Tiger Woods, Tiger Woods was like, 'I've got black skin, but don't call me black.' So people wondered about Tiger Woods."
12 Hall W. Thompson Has No Clue
Thompson is the founder and developer of Shoal Creek Golf and Country Club. In 1990 Shoal Creek was set to host the PGA Championship, when Thompson was asked about the club's selective admittance policy, he responded, "We don't discriminate in every other area except blacks". Oooookay then Hall, thanks for that. Thankfully after the comments, most of the sponsors pulled out of the tournament and ultimately Thompson and Shoal Creek changed their acceptance rules.
Sometimes you're almost happy when someone makes such a ridiculous statement like that because it exposes them for what they are. His comments actually did lead to some positive changes though, as the USGA began delving into membership policies of golf clubs and they discovered 75% of clubs in 1990 had policies that excluded certain minorities. Once that was done, the USGA began instituting policies that would prohibit clubs with such policies from hosting major events.
11 Ron Atkinson Drops The "N" Word
In 2004 Ron Atkinson was broadcasting a soccer game. He thought the broadcast had gone to commercial, but he was mistaken. When talking about French soccer player Marcel Dasially, Atkinson said into a hot mic, "He's what is known in some schools as a f***ing lazy thick n*****." Atkinson was shortly relieved of his duties as a soccer color commentator. While it was unfortunate the comment made it to air, at least Atkinson was outed.
Atkinson then denied that he was racist and pointed out that his old club, West Brom, had actually become the first high profile British club to have a significant number of black players. That defense did little to excuse him of the remark he made on air. Since the incident, Atkinson has been referred to as "Racist Ron". Since the statement, Atkinson has gotten very defensive regarding those comments. In a 2009 interview, when asked about what he blurted out on air, his only answer was: "The whistle has gone. Full time. End of story... the subject is closed."
10 Kelly Tilghman Tells Golfers To Lynch Tiger Woods
In 2008, so called golf expert, Kelly Tilghman was attempting to give some advice to golfers on the PGA tour not named Tiger Woods. She was obviously attempting to make a joke, or so we hope, when she said the other golfers on the tour should "lynch him in the back alley", referring to the other golfers making attempts to keep up with the dominance of Tiger.
Tilghman was quick to apologize over the incident, for whatever that's worth. Here was her statement: "On Friday during our golf broadcast, Nick Faldo and I were discussing Tiger's dominance in the golf world and I used some poorly chosen words," Tilghman said in a statement. "I have known Tiger for 12 years and I have apologized directly to him. I also apologize to our viewers who may have been offended by my comments."
Needless to say Kelly was suspended for the comments, and like a true man, Tiger Woods holds no ill-will over the comments. Whether you like Tiger Woods or not, he definitely could have pursued further action against Tilghman.
9 Jason Whitlock's Joke Comes Up Short
During the height of Linsanity, Jason Whitlock tried to poke fun at the Asian superstar. Jeremy Lin was on his way to 38 points against the Lakers, when Whitlock got on Twitter to write this, "Some lucky lady in NYC is gonna feel a couple inches of pain tonight".
Whitlock didn't outright apologize, but did offer some sort of explanation for why he said what he did. "I then gave in to another part of my personality - my immature, sophomoric, comedic nature. It's been with me since birth, a gift from my mother and honed as a child listening to my godmother's Richard Pryor albums. I still want to be a standup comedian."
Whitlock was clearly out of touch with the audience of today and should have known better as a public figure. Once again people, think before you tweet.
Whitlock was not suspended by ESPN or even reprimanded in any way. Jeremy Lin has gone on to have a great NBA career since the comments, and Whitlock got fired from ESPN a few years later.
8 Fuzzy Has Advice For Tiger
Fuzzy Zoeller was a solid golfer in his day, however, it appears his day was a long long time ago. During Tiger Woods' first win at the Masters in 1997, Zoeller had some advice for the crew and Woods himself. Fuzzy said, “You pat him on the back and say congratulations and enjoy it and tell him not to serve fried chicken next year. Got it? Or collard greens or whatever the hell they serve”. Way to go Fuzzy, way to make your sport not look like a game for privileged rich white men.
Zoeller then tried to save face by saying he meant it as a joke. "I've been on the tour for 23 years and anybody who knows me knows that I am a jokester," Zoeller said. "It's too bad that something I said in jest was turned into something it's not. But I didn't mean anything by it and I'm sorry if I offend anybody. If Tiger is offended by it, I apologize to him, too."
Ironically, no one was laughing when Zoeller said it, so maybe he wasn't as funny as he thought he was.
7 Rush Knocks McNabb
Rush Limbaugh, who is not a stranger to negative headlines regarding his insensitivity, once said, "I'm sorry to say this, I don't think he's been that good from the get-go. I think what we've had here is a little social concern. I think the media has been very desirous that a black quarterback do well." He was talking about Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb. McNabb led the Eagles to the Super Bowl that year, and came up just short of winning the big game.
McNabb is likely a Hall of Fame quarterback, and for Limbaugh to suggest he is overrated is just a sad attempt at grabbing headlines.
Limbaugh eventually resigned from his post shortly after the comments were made. McNabb, as you would expect, handled the situation like a gentleman. "It's somewhat shocking to hear that on national TV from him," McNabb said. "It's not something that I can sit here and say won't bother me." It was a fair statement from McNabb and anybody could see how those comments would bother McNabb.
6 Shaq Diesel Should Have Pumped The Breaks
When Yao Ming broke into the NBA, many people thought that there was finally someone around who could handle Shaq, well they were wrong of course. But during an interview, Shaq was asked what advise or words he would have for the young Chinese born player,
Shaq's response? "Tell Yao Ming, 'Ching chong yang, wah, ah soh." Of course Yao, being a joker in his own right, responded by saying, "Chinese is hard to learn. I had trouble with it when I was little." Way to go Yao.
Despite this banter back and forth, including Shaq's remarks, the two actually grew to eventually be friends. Shaq's words about Yao Ming were far kinder following both men's retirements. Shaq said, "If it wasn't for those injuries, Yao would have been up there with the top five centers to ever play the game."
It's good to see that both men were able to overcome what would have otherwise ruined relationships for years. Shaq also expressed regret in his book for saying what he did.
5 Don Imus Rants
In 2007 the Rutgers Women's basketball team was wrapping up their season in the NCAA tournament when old time shock jock, Don Imus decided to weigh in. Imus referred to the women as "some nappy-headed hoes." Imus was fired from CBS for the outrageous comments. The outrage that ensued toward CBS and Imus after the comments left CBS no choice but to let him go, as they should have.
Imus tried to provide some context as to what he meant by the comments, but it was to no avail. This is how he tried to justify his comments.
"They don’t know that I was trying to be funny. They don’t know what this program is about. I mean, because I call my wife ‘the green ho,’ does that mean I can call—of course not. I mean, that’s a repugnant suggestion, to suggest that I think because we make fun of everybody, or because I get made fun of, that it’s okay to make fun of them, because it’s not okay to make fun of them. But that’s what we do and that’s the context."
4 John Rocker on His Teammate
We could have probably put almost every word John Rocker ever said into a list of its own. In 1999 John Rocker was relevant, and Rocker seems like he could have been some sort of inspiration for the TV show character Kenny Powers from HBO's Eastbound and Down. In 1999 Rocker did an interview with Sports Illustrated, where he went over all things that bother him about race and sex in America. His comments to SI included why he would never live in New York City.
Rocker also went on a mini rant about ex-teammate Randall Simon, calling him, "a fat monkey." Rocker was not suspended or punished in anyway for his remarks, and many baseball and non-baseball fans were upset about the lack of consequence for such ignorant remarks.
3 Riley Cooper Makes Country Concerts Look Bad
In 2013 Riley Cooper did not do any service to the already stereotyped culture of country music. Obviously intoxicated at a Kenny Chesney concert, Cooper was recorded telling a friend "I will fight every n***** here." Cooper immediately apologized for the comments after they were released. He has Michael Vick to thank for still being in the NFL, as Vick was quick to come to his teammates defense after the video. "I know what type of person he is," said quarterback Michael Vick, via CSNPhilly.com. "That's what makes it hard to understand but easy to forgive him."
Cooper is still in the NFL, but there is no doubt his reputation has caused many teammates to stay an arms length from Cooper. He was released by the Eagles earlier this year after a subpar 2015 season and has yet to be signed by a team. You've got to believe there are certain players in the NFL who would be uncomfortable in a locker room with Cooper. Perhaps he'll get a shot with some team in training camp if a team gets a serious injury problem at wide receiver but for now, Cooper has to sit and wait for another opportunity.
2 Marge Schott Thinks She Should Own People
In 1993 Marge Schott owned the Cincinnati Reds, and was viewed as one of the worst owners in the MLB. When talking about her two star players, Eric Davis and Dave Parker, she referred to them as "Million-dollar n*****s".
I am curious if she still believes she can own people. She later claimed the comment was a joke, but after much thought and examination, I am having a hard time finding the humor in that one Marge.
Schott may have very well been the worst owner in all of professional sports. The former Reds CFO, Tim Sabo fired a wrongful termination lawsuit against her. Why did he say he was let go? He alleged that it was due to his refusal to adhere to the team's unwritten policy of not hiring African-Americans. The fact that this actually took place late in the 20th century is almost incomprehensible. In 1993 Schott was banned from baseball for an entire year, but perhaps a more fitting sentence would have been banning her for life, as was our no.1 entry on this list.
1 Donald Sterling Shows His True Colors
In 2014 the Los Angeles Clippers' owner was Donald Sterling. Sterling had a female friend who he talked to in confidence. He was upset with her over her affiliation with black men, and she recorded him saying, "It bothers me a lot that you want to broadcast that you're associating with black people", and, "You can sleep with [black people]. You can bring them in, you can do whatever you want", but "the little I ask you is ... not to bring them to my games".
These recordings were released and there was outrage all around the league. Clippers payers themselves were debating whether to boycott their games until Sterling was removed as owner. Ultimately, with the help of some strong NBA players, Donald Sterling lost his team and was banned from the NBA for life. Adam Silver made his first stamp as commissioner when he uttered these words:
"I am personally distraught that the views expressed by Mr. Sterling came from within an institution that has historically taken such a leadership role in matters of race relations and caused current and former players, coaches, fans and partners of the NBA to question their very association with the league... Accordingly, effective immediately, I am banning Mr. Sterling for life from any association with the Clippers organization or the NBA."
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