17 Feb 2006 Project 21 Press Release: Black Activists Respond to Bryant Gumbel’s Racial Denigration of Winter Olympics
Members of the black leadership network Project 21 are criticizing cable sports commentator Bryant Gumbel for injecting race and politics into remarks about the Winter Olympics, which are currently being held in Torino, Italy. Project 21 members note that the remarks made by Gumbel, who formerly hosted NBC’s “Today” morning program prior to his current program on HBO, demean the accomplishments of the competing athletes and stir racial tensions where none should exist.
In the closing monologue of the February 7 edition of HBO’s “Real Sports With Bryant Gumbel,” Gumbel said about the Winter Olympics: “Count me among those who don’t care about them and won’t watch them… So try not to laugh when someone says these are the world’s greatest athletes, despite a paucity of blacks that makes the winter games look like a GOP convention.”
Members of Project 21 had this to say about Gumbel’s remarks:
“Everyone can understand a person’s disdain for a particular sporting event, but for Gumbel to castigate an entire field of athletes who have worked a lifetime in pursuit of a dream – and then injecting race into it – is unforgivable,” said Project 21 member Mychal Massie. “HBO, the station that employs Gumbel, features a lot of boxing. Should they be condemned for having too many Mexican boxers or not enough white ones? Should he be condemned for only having one other black on his news team? Following Gumbel’s rationale, I would expect the answer to be yes.”
“Interest in sporting activities are often dictated by environment. That’s why Nordic and European countries have excelled in past Winter Olympics,” said Project 21 member Deneen Moore. “It’s a simple fact that winter sports are not part of black culture for both geographic and economic reasons. Accessibility, affordability and motivation are key requirements for individuals to excel in sport activities, not the color of one’s skin. Mr. Gumbel should be aware of these obvious facts and not try to score cheap racial political points.”
For more information, contact David Almasi at (202) 507-6398 x11 or [email protected], or visit Project 21’s website at http://www.project21.org/P21Index.html. New Visions Commentaries can be found at https://nationalcenter.org/P21NewVisions.html.