HBO’s Gumbel Decries ‘Race-Based Code,’ White-Black Pro Sports Double Standard

Tuesday, HBO “Real Sports” host Bryant Gumbel concluded his Tuesday show with a monologue thanking Cleveland Cavaliers star LeBron James for calling out New York Knicks President Phil Jackson for labeling James’ group of friends as his “posse.”

Gumbel noted how announcers use “race based code” while discussing players in various sports, and added the 2016 election shows that “hurtful words ultimately did not matter.”

Partial transcript as follows:

Predictably, racial apologists have cried foul on James, but LeBron is merely citing part of a race-based code that’s all too commonplace in sports — one that leaves some words unspoken but well understood.

Look, it’s not just about “posse.” We have long watched and listened as broadcasters have routinely characterized black players as “born athletes” and their white teammates as “hard workers.”

We know what they mean when they fault end zone dances, but applaud Lambeau leaps, when they label [Odell Beckham Jr] a showboat, but say [Rob Gronkowski]‘s colorful, or when they’re calling some guys in a fight “scrappers” and others “thugs.” Black viewers have always known it’s a white guy whenever those in the booth are claiming a player is “heady” or “does the intangibles.”

Now, the usual assortment of critics and bigots will no doubt claim these are inflated complaints born of political correctness but since when does one group get to define another’s level of offense? Look, we’re coming off of a bitter election in which hurtful words ultimately did not matter, and maybe they didn’t because too many have become accepting of the ignorant stereotypes that words help create and reinforce. Maybe it’s time we thought more, not less, about the language that’s used and call people out when it’s abused.

Follow Trent Baker on Twitter @MagnifiTrent