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April 17, 2007

Which Group Has Gotten the Most Wedgies from Jocks?

Earlier this week, baseball celebrated the 60th anniversary of Jackie Robinson's debut in the Major Leagues. Last week, a certain radio personality was fired for implying that a certain women's basketball team had dubious sexual mores and very curly hair. These divergent events prompted Gelf to dig into the cyber-archive and investigate the illustrious history of bigotry in sport. Of course, there has been bigotry in sports for as long as there have been bigotry and sports (Ty Cobb, anyone?). But which minority group gets it the worst from sports figures?

He Hate Me

Here's a list of the hated, and their athletic haters:

African-Americans

Al Campanis
The former GM of the Los Angeles Dodgers lost his job in the 1980s for implying that black people are intellectually inferior.

Fuzzy Zoeller
The PGA golfer suggested that fried chicken, "or collard greens or whatever the hell they serve" be served at the Masters Dinner in 1998, for which defending champ Tiger Woods would be selecting the menu. Zoeller lost some big sponsors, but continued to play on the tour.

Jews

Micheal Ray Richardson
NBA All-Star in the 80s and currently suspended coach in the CBA, boasted to a reporter about his "big-time Jew lawyers" who apparently were "real crafty" (ESPN). He also mentioned that "They [Jews] have a lot of power in this world." He issued a standard apology, though his remarks are a big reason why the former drug addict is currently suspended.

Charlie Ward
The former Knick called Jews "stubborn" and said "they had [Jesus's] blood on their hands" (Religion in the News). Ward later apologized, noting that his "friend is a Jewish guy, and his name is Jesus Christ."

Homosexuals

Tim Hardaway
The former NBA point guard, said "I hate gay people" on the radio. (You can hear it at the end of this recording.) He apologized in short order, but, perhaps due to the entirely unambiguous nature of his statement, it hasn't helped him very much.

Ozzie Guillen
The manager of the Chicago White Sox called Chicago Sun-Times writer Jay Mariotti a "fucking fag" (ESPN). Guillen later apologized to gay people, but not to Mariotti himself. We're not really sure the gay community should take his apology seriously, though, as he once introduced a friend to the media by saying, "Hey, this guy's a homosexual. He's a child molester" (Deadspin). Come to think of it, we're not really sure why he'd say that in the first place.

Jeremy Shockey
The outspoken Giants tight end was quoted by New York magazine calling Bill Parcells a "homo," in a derogatory way. Shockey denied he made the comment. But he'd already made his feelings clear, according to OutSports, by telling Howard Stern, "if I knew there was a gay guy on my college football team, I probably wouldn’t, you know, stand for it.”

The Jack-of-All-Hates

John Rocker
The undisputed champion of twenty-first century sports bigots has insulted gays, Jews, blacks, liberals, Arabs, Asians, New Yorkers and people with purple hair. (All in the same Sports Illustrated article, no less.) In what must be an attempt to solidify his racist bona-fides, he has begun a "Speak English" campaign aimed at encouraging immigrants to "assimilate." Being a poster-boy for rednecks everywhere has served Rocker quite well, ensuring that he'll be more remembered than, say, Mark Wohlers: Rocker was recently a guest on The O'Reilly Factor, was interviewed by Deadspin, and reportedly has a book in the works. Weirdly, he also has an African-American girlfriend.

So who bears the brunt of sports bigotry? Like Fox News, we'll let you decide. We'd like to point out, though, that Ozzie Guillen can say just about anything and get away with it. We'd also like to point out that it's difficult to imagine a pro athlete being so direct as to say, "I hate blacks" or "I hate Jews."

Related in Gelf: Tim Hardaway's former coach says he's disappointed in his dribbling student's comments. And read this interview with Jeff Pearlman, author of SI's John Rocker article.

Related on the web: OutSports collects homophobic comments from athletes, and ranks them on a scale of 1 to 15 Rockers.







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