Another Racial Exchange


The aftermath of a near fistfight between Los Angeles Clippers forward Matt Barnes and Oklahoma City Thunder forward Serge Ibaka last week, has fueled yet another race related debate in sports. After the near brawl in Los Angeles, a frustrated Barnes was fined $25,000 for his behavior and for writing a tweet that contained the N-word.

Following the fine and apology, many prominent analysts and former players sounded off on the topic. On ESPN’s “Pardon the Interruption”, host Michael Wilbon supported Barnes by saying he uses the word “all day, every day” and that NBA commissioner David Stern and those like him had “no right to tell black people how to speak”.

It’s a bit surprising that there are people out there who found Barnes’s word choice to be shocking let alone worthy of a fine. Wilbon was right in saying that he wouldn’t have made those same remarks publicly, but the league has no place in telling players if they can or can’t use that word.

Unfortunately, racially charged disagreements still take place in 2013 and that there are some people who claim a word created as a slur should be allowed to be said by everyone. With that being said, Wilbon and other analysts were right to defend Barnes’ right to say it.

There is still plenty of racism in and out of the sports world and Wilbon and others were right to be able to reiterate that in a respectful, professional way. It just goes to show that while often times the sports world is an escape from what happens outside of it, it is still greatly affected by racial tension.

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About The Richard A. Maxwell Sport Media Project

The Richard A. Maxwell Sport Media Project is a hub for teaching, research, and service related to sport media. The Project benefits students and faculty at Bowling Green State University, and offers outreach and media consulting to area and regional groups that work with student-athletes. Through collaborative efforts of the Sport Management program and the School of Media and Communication, BGSU students have the opportunity to learn such skills as sports writing, reporting, broadcasting, announcing, public relations, media relations, communication management and production. Faculty and other scholars have access to resources about the commercial and sociological aspects of sport.

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