It’s been a rough week for Los Angeles Times columnist Sandy Banks. Her email, voice mail have been flooded with messages – some of them stern and others Sterno-hot with anger – about a line she wrote in a weekend piece about disgraced and freshly-banned Los Angeles Clippers basketball team owner Donald Sterling following his recorded racist remarks about black people. “Let the real estate magnate take his millions and buy a hockey team,” she wrote. “Then he won’t have to worry about black superstars showing up for games on his girlfriend’s arm.” The line struck a nerve with hockey fans, particularly among fans of color who regularly confront the misconception – from within minority communities and without – that the game is an exclusively white one with little room for diversity. Wednesday, Banks posted a piece on the Times’ website explaining her weekend column. http://www.latimes.com/sports/sportsnow/la-sp-sn-sandy-banks-hockey-comments-sterling-20140430,0,4567727.column#axzz30Q8B4yPE “I realized the danger of intemperate comments on anything race-related this week after a post I wrote about Clippers owner Donald Sterling landed me, in the eyes of hockey fans, right up there with Sterling – whose bigoted comments just got him banned from the NBA,” she wrote. Her mea culpa went on to explain that the “buy a hockey team” line was an attempt to be clever. She quickly learned that many readers thought otherwise. “I understand now why those lines struck a nerve,” she wrote. “It felt like a gratuitous joke at the expense of the National Hockey League, which does have black players on most of its teams.” But what Banks doesn’t understand is the vitriolic hate and meanness in some of the comments by some fans. “Complaints from hockey fans flooded my inbox, many laced with racial slurs and insults: I’m an ignorant, ugly, racist gorilla – and worse that can’t be printed,” she wrote. “Their rants make Sterling seem enlightened by comparison.” What Banks wrote in her initial column was wrong and hockey fans of all persuasions had a right to complain. But being passionate is one thing, poisoning that passion with hateful responses is another. Disagree, yes. Denigrate, no. If Banks was a hockey player, referees might have given her a two-minute slashing penalty for her unfortunate line. But the refs would have also handed out game misconducts to authors of the more hateful and racially-tinged responses left in the comments section after Banks’ Sterling piece. And it’s not like Banks was the only person in the world to make a flippant remark about Sterling shedding the Clippers and perhaps moving on to a sport that’s supposedly minority-free. On “CBS This Morning” this week, co-anchor Gayle King suggested that Sterling should perhaps consider buying a polo team. Maybe she didn’t realize that a predominately black youth polo team from inner-city Philadelphia’s Work to Ride program twice won the National Interscholastic Polo Championship, even though the ground-breaking program was featured in the past on “60 Minutes” and the “CBS Evening News.” Kareem Rosser, a former Work to Ride member, played for Colorado State University’s nationally-ranked polo team last year. Perhaps the best response to Banks’ Sterling column came from Donnie Shaw, a Washington, D.C., resident and the proud father of Donnie Shaw III., a hockey player for New York’s Elmira College, alum of the Fort Dupont Ice Hockey Club, the nation’s oldest minority youth hockey program, and an NHL Thurgood Marshall College Fund scholarship recipient. Instead of a poison pen, the elder Shaw emailed Banks a short message and pictures of his son and other black kids playing hockey.
“I know you didn’t mean any harm with your statement about blacks attending NHL Hockey, with a lady on the side,” the elder Shaw wrote. “I’m not going to do a Change.Org petition to get you to retract your line about us doing hockey. However, as a long time Hockey Dad I want you to know that is not cool for you to make that statement…these days. Oh! My son is a former competitive swimmer and he plays lacrosse..” Even in the throes of disagreement, consideration trumps cruelty any day.
This is a Joke.
So what you are saying is, if someone says something Stupid, and 20% of the responses are just as Bad we have to focus on the Responses?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!
Are you Insane?
You enable that person to not only Slander but then make herself to be the VICTIM.
This is a Joke. All Black Basketball team equals Normal. All White Hockey Team equals Racism. And you perpetuate this!!!
William Douglas said:
Nope. All I’m saying is disagree, air your complaint, but be respectful while doing it. Arguing or complaining in a civil manner isn’t letting someone off the hook. Hopefully, it makes your argument even stronger because you haven’t stooped to a certain level.
David N-T said:
Well said, thank you.
Sigh. The usual thing that happens whenever someone says something inexcusable is to immediately say how awful the comments they received afterwards were in comparison, as if that absolves them of what they did.
Can we have a moratorium on writers complaining about the mean internet comments on something they wrote? When I read the comments section of EVERY article on the internet, there are awful comments. Sometimes for no discernible reason.
Please stop using it as a deflecting technique, which was cynically done here, and also was done in the writer’s column.
I understand the subtext here: “The people mad about this were mad because the writer disparaged hockey, not for disparaging black people”. It’s a pretty shrewd way to wriggle off the hook for making a racist statement.
But seriously, think about it, if you care… any black person reading your column on some level gets the message that black people are not part of the NHL. Not the players, and not the fans. Even though there are many black NHL players, and many black fans, hockey is a “white” sport. To you, that’s probably consigning it to a NASCAR-like ghetto. But to all the black people engaged in the sport, your jibe is a reminder that they are interlopers.
Alienation is sad. People who are alienated have to think over and over about the actions that would otherwise be automatic and heartfelt. Sandy Banks has contributed to the alienation of all the black players and fans of hockey, and evil internet comments don’t excuse that at all.
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P Smith said:
If she had said it about NASCAR, nobody would have batted an eye. It was NASCAR that ran Willy T. Ribbs out on a rail, even though he was a good driver – good enough to once get a test drive with an F1 team.