When the tapes were released and Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling was finally exposed as the racist most people already knew him to be, NBA commissioner Adam Silver – despite being on the job for mere weeks – didn’t hesitate to drop the hammer on him. For his disgustingly bigoted remarks, Sterling has been hit with a $2.5 million fine, a lifetime ban and will be forced to sell his team. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell recently weighed in on the matter, praising Silver for taking such a swift, hard stance against racism in his league. The fact Goodell did so without hearing the slightest hint of irony – or hypocrisy – in his own words speaks volumes about how tone deaf and clueless he really is.
“I think they made the right decision. I salute Adam Silver for being decisive. He made the right statement and he’s doing the right things.”
That Goodell could make such a statement with a straight face – while simultaneously overlooking the fact that he has an owner in his own league who defiantly defends his use of a racial slur – is either the height of arrogance or hypocrisy. Possibly both.
Thousands of Native American people have very vocally objected to and have condemned the continued use of the name of owner Dan Snyder‘s football team, the Washington Redskins. Fifty U.S. Senators recently sent a letter to the league asking Goodell to do something to force the change of a name that many find racially insensitive and highly offensive.
Even some of Snyder’s own players have questioned the continued use of the name. Despite all that though, Snyder remains defiant and unwilling to consider changing the team’s name, citing “tradition,” and calling the name a “badge of honor” for Native American people. For many, the term “redskin” is anything but a badge of honor – it’s a slur every bit as offensive as the “N” word, or any other term that slurs a culture or ethnicity.
And all the while, Goodell sits by, applauding Silver’s hardline stance on racism in the NBA, while ignoring it in his own league.
Though some, like Snyder, decry the push to change the team’s name as out of control political correctness. As a person of Japanese heritage, I can tell you first hand how hurtful and demeaning racial slurs can be. Growing up, I heard them all.
The fact Snyder can continue to use – and vehemently defend his use of – a racially insensitive word that is offensive, hurtful and demeaning to so many, and the fact Goodell simply looks the other way as if there isn’t a problem at all, speaks volumes about the character of both men.
Snyder speaks of history and tradition in his defense of the team’s nickname. Once upon a time, “tradition” in this country said that people could be bought and sold like livestock, that people of different races couldn’t marry, that people who weren’t white had to ride at the back of the bus and had to use only specially marked water fountains and restrooms.
Thankfully, those “traditions,” and a hundred others just like them have been relegated to the trash bin of history where they belong – and Washington’s team nickname should join them.
Donald Sterling’s racism was exposed by secret recordings of a conversation in what he thought was a private setting, yet Snyder flaunts his for the whole world to see, and he does it without fear of consequence. People around the country, some from his own team, have objected to the continued use of the slur, but Snyder ignores them – perhaps feeling that the foundation he established should be enough to shut everybody up about it because you know, starting a foundation equals racial sensitivity.
If Goodell truly believes that Silver did the right thing, he should follow that example and compel Snyder to either change the team’s name or face serious consequences.
Or, Goodell could just continue being a hypocrite who talks out of both sides of his mouth. It seems to have worked out well enough for him to this point.