One reason I find sports fascinating is that so many of our cultural issues are personified through them and promote discussion in a way they otherwise wouldn’t. Race, gender, religion, style and health are all subjects that have been brought into our homes because sports made them matter to us.
That was apparent again at the end of this week when the Web was alive with discussion about the gay slur Kobe Bryant yelled at a referee. A former NBA player, John Amaechie, had the most poignant and pointed response in an article in The New York Times, writing, “This controversy is not a storm in a teacup turned into a vendetta by loony liberals, as many in the sports world seem to think.”
Brad Vipperman of The Bleacher Report sees it from an entirely different point of view, writing that he has been “borderline livid” by the size of Bryant’s fine. Vipperman says Bryant was singled out because he’s a star and contends that the slur is simply “a casual word used to insult someone who did something he didn’t agree with.”
Bryant wasn’t buying Vipperman’s argument. During an appearance on the Dan Patrick Show, Bryant said it was “stupid and ignorant” to use the slur and it’s time to “kill that word.”
Concussions also returned to the news this week. I’ve been especially close to this because of my work with Alan Schwarz of the Times, who has been singularly responsible for elevating the conversation about concussions. As someone who grew up cheering the Steelers, it has been sad to see so many of those players afflicted by post-concussion problems. The latest is Terry Bradshaw, as reported by the Los Angeles Times.
But the news wasn’t all a downer: With the Knicks back in the playoffs for the first time in seven years, another longtime favorite is strutting back onto the stage - Walt “Clyde” Frazier. The flamboyant Frazier took Richard Sandomir on a tour of his wardrobe and gave him some insight into what he’ll be wearing while announcing the Knicks-Celtics series. As always, he’ll be easy to spot.