Thursday, August 24, 2006

Blacks and swimming

The other day on one of my email lists I got into a bit of a debate on the topic of typical body types of various races and the probable effects on swimming biomechanics. Which, of course, got me flamed. Okay, I like controversy as much as the next person, it was not altogether unexpected.

Want to get really offended? Check out what Rush Limbaugh has to say on the topic. (Disclaimer: I loathe him.).

That said, I'll be watching the next season of Survivor (Cook Islands) with interest, when they pit tribes of four different races against each other. (Starts Thursday September 14th).

Plus the Amazing Race, and naturally I'll be cheering for Ironman (and amputee) Sarah Reinertson. (Starts Sunday September 17th).

From my bike trainer, of course.


Geek Girl said...

Most of the things that research attributes to "race" are more correctly attributed to poverty. It's an unfortunate fact that whites have had a leg up, historically speaking, and so still represent a disproportionate amount of those who are living above the poverty line. However, there are still a whole lot of people out there that attribute a whole host of "failings" to skin color, which it has nothing to do with.

Iron Pol said...

I would say that the overall issue is more socio-economic, than anything. The activities people tend to involve themselves with are a function of what they can afford and what is available.

However, DBA's comment is a bit simple, where poverty is concerned. I'd say it's more a mix of issues. Financial status, location, culture, etc. There are plenty of poor people who excel at sports. And there are plenty of wealthy people who suck at them.

Similar comments are made about black ice skaters. But I seem to recall a certain African-American speed skater taking gold and setting records.

Spokane Al said...

Before I start, please let me say how much I enjoy your postings. Your skills as a writer almost always bring home the issues that I face and the concerns I have as I struggle to become the athlete I think I am capable of becoming in my journey through the sport of triathlon. That said, here are my comments:

I am often amused at people’s take of Rush Limbaugh and many of his comments. I suspect that you are not a listener of his and did not hear him state those comments that you printed out. If you had heard him for any length of time (and I did hear him make the comments in question) you would realize that much of his stock in trade is satire and poking fun at issues and people of the left. This was an example of that satire, much like Bill Maher and others of both the left and the right.

I am equally surprised by the lack of uproar from other genuinely serious comments. For example, Andrew Young, a former key member of Bill Clinton’s inner circle recently stated, “First it was Jews, then it was Koreans and now it's Arabs" who are "selling us stale bread and bad meat and wilted vegetables." Is that not racist?

How about Bryant Gumbel’s recent comments where he said in part, “Gene Upshaw is the "personal pet" of soon-to-be-former NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue.”?

And then there is singer Linda Ronstadt who recently stated, “I'm embarrassed George Bush is from the United States. He's an idiot.”

And of course there are actors Alec Baldwin and Tim Robbins who continuously make personal attacks on the president.

While disagreement over policy is natural, shouldn’t we be a bit offended by genuine, serious, mean spirited personal attacks on our commander-in-chief? Or is it okay to make those kinds of statements because one agrees with the leftist, liberal position of the speaker?

Where is the offense at these, so-called serious comments? Again, I find the uproar over Limbaugh a too frequent, situation normal response, while liberal comments are just considered and chalked up as freedom of speech.

Thanks for giving me the opportunity to respond and have a great day.

jbmmommy said...

I'll be watching the Amazing Race, too. I've never watched it before, but I met Sarah Reinertsen this past weekend at Timberman and she was so incredibly nice that I'm now one of her biggest fans forever.

I'm also disappointed about Pluto, it was always one of my favorite planets.

nancytoby said...

Spokane Al,
Thank you for the kind comments.

It has always seemed to me that Limbaugh's stock in trade has been "genuine, serious, mean spirited personal attacks". It seems that some of his listeners may consider such attacks humorous. The nadir, to me, was during the very solemn live coverage of former President Reagan's funeral service at National Cathedral when he couldn't restrain himself from making hugely inappropriate (considering the setting) derogatory remarks about former President Clinton.

Comm's said...

Now Nancy, we have had this conversaton before and you know I love you. I agree with Al, Limbaugh was using satire. The link you used was extremely biased against his remarks, which is cool, its their angle.

To expose a similiar concept Rush uses on football games and he is huge football fan, he has a segment each week of the season where he picks teams from the environmentalists point of veiw.

For example if the dolphins play the cowboys, he waxes on the dolphins being a kind, lovable and ultimately smarter species than humans and will beat nasty, smelly cowoys.

Or perhaps the Steelers versus the colts. He would pick the colts.

Its satire.

Iron Pol said...

Some amount of fairness is needed. Andrew Young immediately apologized for his remarks, and stepped down from the position he was representing when he made them.

It is true that some comments are blown out of proportion while others are glossed over. The biggest lesson is to allow people to explain their statements, clarify them, or outright apologize for them. And that applies to people of any philosophy.

I disagree with Young's comments. I do, however, understand their source. And I do accept that his apology was sincere and his actions of stepping down from Wal-Mart are sufficient pennance.

Personal attacks such as those made by the others mentioned, while reprehensible, aren't in the same category as those applied to an entire ethnic group. One is rude and mean spirited. The other shows a serious need for self-examination and a shift in thinking.

jeanne said...

OK, I just today heard a black woman commentator on the radio saying that what that felon limbaugh said about swimming and african americans was not that far off the mark, although of course the way he said it had to be ugly.

This woman, btw, is taking swimming lessons now. It was fascinating, bcs I had no idea. (And of course, I know that is just one women's viewpoint.)

The piece I heard was on "News and Notes with Ed Gordon"; it's worth a listen:
On Katrina Anniversary, Examining a Fear of Water."