Rush To Judgement

Right or Wrong Wing Ownership?

Right or Wrong Wing Ownership?

In the last several weeks, ultra-conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh appears to be ramping up his plans to make a bid to buy the NFL franchise St. Louis Rams.  This pursuit of ownership by Limbaugh wouldn’t be a big deal if it weren’t for the racist comments he has made in the past.  Aside from his parody of “Barack the Magic Negro” on his radio show, Limbaugh is most notably associated-as far as sports is concerned-with his comments about Philadelphia Eagles’ quarterback Donovan McNabb during a 2003 ESPN broadcast.  Insinuating that McNabb had gotten undo credit and was overrated just because he was Black, Limbaugh stated, “The media has been very desirous that a black quarterback do well. They’re interested in black coaches and black quarterbacks doing well … McNabb got a lot of the credit for the performance of the team that he really didn’t deserve.”

Regardless of if you agree with Limbaugh, think he says the outlandish things he does just for reaction to drive his ratings and make money, or if he actually is a walking abortion (something he would REALLY take offense to), the question of character in ownership once again rears its head.

At what point does that hammer drop in the court of public opinion?

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On one hand, is it the league’s job to safeguard its own character and public perception? After all, just because one owner says racist things doesn’t make the entire group of owners racists.  Take for example, widely considered the worst owner in sports, the Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling.  His alleged comments and behavior have impugned his own character more than actually compromising the integrity of the league.  And the first amendment allows him to make these statements, even in the face of overwhelming public scrutiny.

Sterling has been involved in several litigations with regard to his alleged racist comments over the years, ranging from building the Clippers team with “poor black boys from the South and a white head coach” to housing discrimination.  Sterling, a real estate mogul, who owns many properties, has many alleged indiscretions.  A nonprofit organization filed a lawsuit alleging that Sterling was discriminating against minorities with regard to his housing.  The suit also claims that Sterling did not want to rent to Hispanics and allegedly stated, “Hispanics smoke, drink and just hang around the building.” He also allegedly said, “Black tenants smell and attract vermin.” Conspicuously, or perhaps not so conspicuously, the case was settled out of court.

And let’s not forget former Cincinnati Reds owner Marge Schott, who has a veritable smorgasbord of alleged and documented racial slurs (too much to write here, but Google her and you will have a field day) regarding Asians, Jews, Gays, and African Americans.  Most notably, Schott said Hitler, “was good in the beginning, but went too far.” And in a 1998 story published by the Cincinnati Enquirer, Schott referred to her own players Dave Henderson and Eric Davis as “million dollar niggers”.  These incidents make her many others -like allowing her dog Schottzie to defecate on the field at Riverfront Stadium- benign in comparison.

On the other hand, the old adage that two wrongs-or in this case several- don’t make a right, can take hold.  The sports world has had smatterings of racial commentary over the years, so is it now time to take a stand and refuse Limbaugh ownership?  There are reports suggesting that some players have commented that they would not play for a Limbaugh-owned team, and 24 of the 32 NFL owners have to vote “yes” to allow a new owner to purchase.  Should Limbaugh pursue this further and make an official bid, the ownership vote will serve as a benchmark on where the NFL, the most popular league in the United States of America, stands with regard to political correctness and its determination in its own public perception.

I think he gets less than 8 votes and gets denied.  What do you think?

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