Here we go again. Some old guy got caught making some racist statement that seemed to come straight out of the 1950’s again. This week the culprit was Donald Sterling, the decrepit owner of the L.A. Clippers. Right in the middle of the NBA playoffs. Now, not only has he offended an entire race, he’s created a scandal that has essentially sabotaged his team and their fans right in the first round of the NBA Playoffs. (here’s basically original story. In a strange turn I couldn’t find the original TMZ article where the story supposedly broke. the fact that the link is now broken is suspicious to me…) And the frenzy has begun anew. People calling for boycotts. Advertisers are running for the hills in protest (or fear of being associated with racism). Everything you would come to expect when the old guy says something stupid.
I don’t know how to feel about this stuff. Obviously racism can’t be tolerated. But I can’t help but wonder (just as I did when that Chic-Fil-A scandal came up) is anyone really surprised? Sterling is 80 years old. The comments he made were to a mistress less than half his age. The dude is creepy. Obviously he had some stupid thoughts going through his head.
The only thing that makes this more surprising than the aforementioned Chic-Fil-A scandal is that rather than a conservative company run by a guy who may or may not have ever knowingly had a conversation with an openly gay person, this creep has been working with NBA stars for 30 years. You’d think he would’ve learned something over that time about the meaning of equality. But I guess not.
So people are reacting as you would expect. Everyone is saying he’s got to go. Boycotts are on the horizon for sure. Here is the thing though: While I support everyone’s effort to boycott or otherwise send a message, I have to ask: if you boycott, is the message being sent to the right person? will it really affect Sterling the way you want? All you can do is get him to sell the team, and then he gets hundreds of millions of dollars (perhaps even more) and retires to be a racist somewhere else.
The reason I’m not sure that the message will be sent is that after these recent scandals… well… color me cynical… but I just think that’s what you get from that generation. Their attitudes toward race and gender are simply a relic of past times and attitudes. The only difference is, this guy got caught. By boycotting, all that comes across to the super old generation is “better keep my opinions to myself.” You aren’t going to change anyone’s mind, I’m afraid. heck. I bet if I get to be 80, old and crotchety, I’ll probably be set in my archaic mindsets too. I hope not. But in my experience, old folks are plain stubborn.
I have a different thought. Maybe it’s not helpful. But I’m going to share it anyway. Just wait him out. Continue to support the players and Clippers employees (because by buying tickets, you’re not really supporting the racist old guy, as far as I’m concerned. He’s already got more money than he’ll be able to spend in this lifetime. Not buying the ticket won’t be any skin of his knee). Continue to support people that deserve the support, and just wait the guy out. I mean, how many years does he have left, honestly? Just let him live is lavish lifestyle (’cause he’s going to anyway) and don’t let his worldview ruin your day. Or better yet, this:
I know, that’s insensitive of me. But what else am I gonna do? If I were a Clippers fan, could I really stop supporting those players just because the owner was a jerk? Heck, I’m a Dallas Cowboys fan, and their owner is a jerk, but it doesn’t stop me from watching them suck every year!
I dunno. I mean no disrespect to anyone (except for Sterling, as he is a jerk. I mean him much disrespect.) But I just feel like a boycott isn’t necessarily the solution. But I’m not one of the team, and I can’t know how it affects them. So I’m left to wonder… and wonder I will, as I wait for him to die.