When L.A. Clippers owner Don Sterling was caught on tape the other day spouting off to his mixed-race girlfriend (unbeknownst to him) about the virtues of a segregated society in the year 2014, even compounding his racism with the misogyny of a guy who doesn’t much care for backtalk, calling her “stupid” and excoriating her strength as “a fighter,” he pretty much gave away the game that the wealthy have been playing in this country since we outlawed wife-beating and Mandingo fighting.
I mean, we just found out that America is an oligarchy, but now we have to contend with the fact that it’s a racist oligarchy, too? C’mon!
It turns out, additional recordings have come to light which might explain the whole twisted psychology of the job creator class:
When the woman says she doesn’t share the man’s views about race, he tells her: “Well then, if you don’t feel — don’t come to my games. Don’t bring black people, and don’t come.”
The woman, who says she is mixed race, reminds him most of his team’s players are African-American.
“I support them and give them food, and clothes, and cars, and houses. Who gives it to them? Does someone else give it to them? Do I know that I have — Who makes the game? Do I make the game, or do they make the game?”
If there’s a better quote on the mentality of the owner class in America and their attitudes toward the legal skin-trade that is organized sports, I haven’t seen it. This is the stuff of history’s most unapologetic plantation masters– Heroes to “the Negro.” They don’t earn it, it’s given to them.
But the wealthy in this country sure do love their sports teams. They’ll gamble on them, sitting in their heated box seats– the ones set aside during the construction of stadiums that are funded in large part by redistributed tax dollars paid for by the local communities where they set up shop, and maybe they have some actual skin in the game as owners of a modern sports franchise. It wasn’t too long ago that the NFL actually entertained the idea of Rush Limbaugh being an owner of the St. Louis Rams. But who needs Limbaugh gumming up the works of those who’ve already established themselves as masters of the human race?
Clippers owner Don Sterling isn’t an isolated case, quite the contrary. Some of the worst offenders are usually the ones who go virtually unnoticed. Sure, we’ve heard of Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder, and maybe we vaguely remember of Marge Schott, but the white hoods have come off, damn unsightly things, while the public visibility and sentiments of the owner class are just as shrouded. That is, until we get too comfortable in this country declaring that “racism is dead,” some of them just boil over and can’t help themselves but to speak out against the creeping tyranny of equality.
But the Devos family, for instance, is a little more subtle about their empire of economic slavery by the standards of the aforementioned. Dick Devos, son of the co-founder of Amway and heir to the throne, owns the Orlando Magic and is listed by Forbes as the 67th richest man in the United States. As a heavily-invested member of the Republican party, the Devos family pretty much runs Michigan, influencing everything from education to labor relations to waste management. They’ve even received awards for their “contributions” to humanity. Betsy Devos, Dick’s wife and also a right wing activist, has a brother by the name of Erik Prince. You may have heard of him.
Take the Ricketts family, owners of the Chicago Cubs. When they bought the franchise for close to $900 million in 2009, they sold themselves to the community as Cub-loving spirit guides taking the reins of a storied franchise that’s been on the losing skids for over 100 years.
Sure, Joe Ricketts may have spent millions on racially-motivated attack ads to defeat President Obama, but this is just scratching the surface. Because last year, the Cubs organization christened what they’re calling “the largest ‘Baseball Academy’ in the Dominican Republic.” Spanning 50 acres, the Cubs have essentially developed the largest baseball plantation in all of sports in a country where 40% of the population lives below the poverty line. They even hired a new manager last year, a guy by the name of Rick Renteria, based primarily on the fact that he speaks “Other.” This is that shrouded racism, the kind that hides behind the mask of polished smiles and money laundering philanthropy.
Take the NBA’s Oklahoma City Thunder, who play their home games at the Chesapeake Energy Arena. Owner Clayton Bennettt, who lied about good-faith efforts to keep the team in Seattle when he bought the Supersonics and promptly moved the team to Oklahoma in 2006, is married to Louise Gaylord Bennett, daughter of right wing nut-job media mogul Edward Gaylord.
These are just a few examples of plantation-owner mentality in the contemporary world of sports. I’m not even getting into Vince McMahon, or the world of NASCAR, or the elitism of golf, here.
While these sporting men and their families are on the inside running their extortionist empires like the plantations that they are, funneling the proceeds to right wing causes and their bubble-economy, they are being flanked by those outside of the sports world.
With men like Sheldon Adelson, Rupert Murdoch, the Koch brothers, or Donald Trump, the Duck Dynasty people, Dan Cathy of Chic fil-A, or David Green of Hobby Lobby and pretty much anyone, or anything, containing the words ‘Freedom and Liberty’ in their company name– pouring hundreds of millions into electing right wing politicians– these are the more outspoken champions of institutional racism that isn’t supposed to be a thing anymore, according to their fellow right wing zealots sitting on the Supreme Court.
We measure success in sports by wins and losses, award competitors with “a tall beer,” and fans line up for the spectacle, but in the arena of politics and American democracy, where winning is everything, it’s almost game over. And the crowd goes wild?