Much has been said in the media recently about Los Angeles Clippers owner, Donald Stirling, and the racist remarks that he made to his girlfriend. It has been all over the news, and just yesterday, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, banned Sterling from the NBA for life, and fined him $2.5 million.
The Clippers donned their warm up uniforms inside-out in a pre-game warm-up recently, in protest of Sterling’s comments. One sportswriter likened their situation to that of the 1965 AFL All-Stars who so bravely boycotted the All-Star Game in New Orleans because of the racial discrimination that they endured in that city. Should the Clippers have staged a boycott?
Frankly, I don’t think that the situations are comparable. Yes, what Stirling said was offensive, and African-Americans should be offended. However, to compare the Clippers situation of 2014 to that of the ’65 All-Stars is ridiculous. First of all, the vast majority of Americans feel that Stirling was way out of line. That wasn’t the case in New Orleans in January 1965, just two short months after the Civil Rights Act was signed. At a minimum, the All-Stars had a large portion of the nation that felt African-Americans were an inferior people. While the AFL might have stood with the All-Stars during the boycott, individually, many of those players faced drastic changes to their personal status with their teams and in the league, after the boycott. No one is going to think less of the Clippers players for what they did. If anything, the public likely would have approved a protest to an even greater degree. So while the Clippers can be applauded for their willingness to snub their noses to their owner, the stance took far less bravery than those of the AFL’ers nearly 50 years ago.