Home / Bryant Gumbel’s Comments Need To Be Addressed

Bryant Gumbel’s Comments Need To Be Addressed

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Here’s what Bryant Gumbel – host of HBO’s Real Sports – said during the sign-off for the February 7, 2006 show:

Finally, tonight, the Winter Games. Count me among those who don’t like them and won’t watch them … Because they’re so trying, maybe over the next three weeks we should all try too. Like, try not to be incredulous when someone attempts to link these games to those of the ancient Greeks who never heard of skating or skiing. 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. Try not to point out that something’s not really a sport if a pseudo-athlete waits in what’s called a kiss-and-cry area, while some panel of subjective judges decides who won … So if only to hasten the arrival of the day they’re done, when we can move on to March Madness — for God’s sake, let the games begin.”

You can watch the entire spew by clicking here. You probably should watch Gumbel spit out the above passage. Printed words just don’t do justice to the nonsense uttered by this guy.

Why insult thousands of athletes? Why impugn the motives and efforts of a multi-national coalition united in celebrating the achievements of their diverse cultures?

The reason is simple: Bryant Gumbel is a racist. Forget his juvenile attempt at political humor, he’s an intolerant redneck. He has no patience for any culture that doesn’t fit his idea of a proper culture.

Bryant Gumbel – for all his pseudointellectual pretense – is just another bigot who obviously feels that blacks are the world’s greatest athletes regardless of the endeavor. Gumbel is just as bad as the white idiots who say that blacks can’t be good quarterbacks. Or golfers. Or swimmers. What Gumbel said is worse than anything Jimmy the Greek, Al Campanis or Rush Limbaugh said.

Gumbel sees everything through the prism of skin color. He’s as ignorant as those bigots who said Jackie Robinson wasn’t fit to play Major League Baseball.

A big golf fan, does Gumbel avoid The Masters or the U.S. Open golf tournaments and view them with the same kind of comtempt he expressed toward the Winter Olympics?

Gumbel is the current best example of the double standard that exists out there with regards to being a racist. For a moment, just picture Andy Rooney saying the same thing about the NBA or about the Grammies, or about the NCAA tournament.

Imagine Terry Bradshaw saying that blacks are overrepresented at the quarterback position in the NFL. Or Howie Long saying that there are too many black defensive ends.

At face value Gumbel’s rant is laughable. If you heard these words and didn’t know from whom they came, you might just shrug them off, not giving the whole thing a second thought. Coming from Gumbel, these comments are off the hook, or “off the hiz-ook” if you will.

Gumbel’s the guy who married a girl who looks like she belongs at a GOP convention. Gumbel’s the guy who was accused by his wife of being a serial adulterer during their marriage, an adulterer who allegedly carried on with between 50 and 70 blonde women. That sounds like a cocktail party at a GOP convention!

I imagine this little speech coming from Bryant’s lips, “Honey, I’m sorry but I just can’t eat — your blonde hair and those blue eyes and our incredible wealth and our sitting here in this humongous mansion in Westchester, my membership at the Whippoorwill Golf Club just reminds me of a GOP convention… I need to get back to the ‘hood where my peeps really are.”

There can be a little outrage over what Gumbel said. But really, we should know better by now. And he shouldn’t be punished. He certainly shouldn’t lose his job. Free speech is free speech. And forget about an apology. The public apology has been rendered meaningless to the point beyond where it can be salvaged. Does anyone think that A) he would ever be asked to apologize, B) would apologize if told to, or C) would really be contrite? Forget the apology.

But Gumbel should be ridiculed, roundly ridiculed. He should be laughed at. What little credibility that he has should be tarnished as a result of him making these comments. He should be called a hypocrite and a fool. A racist.

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About Sal Marinello

  • paul

    This is the most exposure that crappy sports show has received ever… HBO finally has a reason to give these guys air time, because we are talking about it. Gumbel is on the island of washed up personalities, he does not know how to swim to the big island, so he will say anything to be heard. To take that show or him seriously is a waste of good air, it took a week for anyone to even see the distress signal….. Let him go back to his soft comfortable leather chair, and maybe he will say something else that is off color or stupid, if he does not get canned today, it will come another day, either due to zero ratings or he will retire to a nice quiet golf community where all the other old, white men retire to play golf and sip scotch and talk about how great they were a long time ago.. Gumbel is the whitest black guy i have ever seen… He takes Uncle Tom to the next level…

  • Harold

    Bryant Gumbel dumped his family and divorced his black wife — for a White one. He’s a hypocrite of the highest order.

  • Paul Roy

    Great post. These double standards do make me sick.

  • chris

    Good post but I think you should lose the link to the National Enquirer.

  • Basketball is too choclate.

  • Howard

    Sal, I agree with your disgust for the man and his philosophy. My question to you is why the post? Why anyone would waste his time listening to his drivel is beyond my comprehension. You simply gave him some of our time by writing about him. He remains nameless for me.


  • serg

    personally i agree with mr. gumbel, but only to an extent…one must look at the ratio of whites to other races and ethnicity to see that perhaps the playing field isn’t as level as in other sports, but thats just the reality of the games…black athletes dominate many other sports…i dont see the need to have to make comments about race in regards to the winter games…this is why i am a huge soccer fan, its the most level playing field out of any of the sports, any nationality, race, ethnicity can play the game and compete at a high level (Ah! the “Beautiful Game”)…in regards to the ridiculousness of the games i agree with gumbel. i dont like “sports” that are “judged” (incluiding boxing i think boxers should fight until they cant fight anymore, or not fight at all), judging is a subjective process and we all know how fallible human judgement can be.

  • whynot

    It’s refreshing that Bryant can complain about a lack of black athletes during the winter olympics, but where was he during the summer olympics where the majority were black. Or shall he call into question the NFL, NCAA football/basketball. Of course not. Maybe instead of him worrying about a lack black athletes at the winter olympics, maybe he should be calling out to help them train and qualify. Or was his outburst aimed at eveyone to give black athletes a handout, or a free pass into the olympics.

  • I don’t have a lot of love for Gumbel but, did he lie?

  • Why ask for a URL if your system blocks access? That’s not nice.

  • Dave D

    What a joke Gumble is! I have always disliked his chip on the shoulder attitude. It’s this stupid attitude that keeps the country divided. If things are so lop-sided for african americans why is he making soooo much cash in this land of opportunity as a black man? It’s these dumb **&^ comments that only hold back others and reveal the reverse racism he wallows in!

  • Jeff Shauger

    Pretty offensive if you ask me. I hate to break the news to Gumbel but black people aren’t the only athletes in the world. Other than a few high profile sports that are ingrained in African American culture the vast majority of other sports are dominated by people of many diffrent racial backgrounds.

    Plus the Winter Olypmics are dominated by the same few countries who experience heavy snowfall and long winters…gee go figure, no wonder not many Africans are doing well.

    His comments are racist and insensitive to people of many racial backgrounds. It also illustrates the double standard in the media seeing as I haven’t heard a peep about this from the liberal media (who are busy working on stories that will further perpetuate the stereotype that only white men are evil and that minorities are the victims of our conspiracies).

    I will not watch anything containing Gumbel until he aplogizes to everyone who is of a race other than African Americans.

  • Leo Harp

    Hy Gumbel you idiot

    How many Ancient Greeks ever heard of Basketball, and other games of the Summer Games? Also the next time a Boxing match goes the distance who picks the winner-a panel of “subjective judges”-maybe the fighters need a crying area also.


  • there was the jamaican bobsled team.

  • First, I would be very surprised if there is more blacks at the Democratic Conventions then there are the the GOP Conventions.

    Second, can you imagine if some white celebrity said that he doesn’t like basketball because everyone is black and it reminds him of a 19th Century plantation?

    Third, didn’t Rush Limbaugh get his ass fired and had to answer many questions from many people when he involved race into sports?

  • Well said.

    Gumbel’s natural home is BET or MTV.

  • Ken

    While I think that it is ridiculous that this issue, or any previous similar issue in the history of broadcasting, journalism, etc., should be dwelled upon by the whining masses, I am glad of one thing: It brings out into the light the fact that black people can be quite racist against their white counterparts. Most white people know this, and perhaps feel that blacks may harbor more racism against them than vice versa; but as a rule, it’s not an appropriate topic for conversation. Well, let’s finally have a conversation about this. It’s about darned time.
    Why are there so few blacks at the Winter Olympics? Oh, I don’t know… Maybe for the same reason I see so few blacks when I go skiing. Is that because they’re to disadvanteged to go skiing? I doubt it; surely some are, as are plenty of whites. But not the ones in the Hummer H2’s with $6000+ worth of wheels on them. Perhaps they just don’t like the cold. Or skiing. Or hanging out with a bunch of white people. Who knows for sure?
    The Winter Olympic sports just aren’t like the Summer ones. For one, they tend to require equiptment to start playing or participating in them – significant equiptment – and so that might prevent the economically challenged from getting a start in them. But the same could be said even moreso about the Equestrian events at the Summer Games. Is is our fault that when some black people come into money, they spend it on shiny cars and shiny clothes instead of private school, horses, or hockey pads? No. And it’s not our fault that poor white children don’t become medal contending figure skaters either. I for one don’t want my tax dollars funding anyone’s dream of their child someday making the U.S. Olympic Team. Black or White, Hispanic, Martian, or Canine. If you can’t afford it, sorry, you don’t get to have it. That’s not elitist – that’s realist. If I had a child, and I wanted them to get a good education in a private school, guess what? I’d have to give up skiing, because I couldn’t afford it. And therefore, by association, my white child would have a significantly reduced opportunity to participate in a future Winter Olympics. Boo hoo. Sorry little Johnny – if I have to give up skiing, I’m sure as hell not giving up my nice cars:)
    Aw, the heck with it. Move over NOW, white people of the world. Bryant Gumbel wants his oppressed brothers and sisters to take that next downhill run. They’ve been waiting eighty years for this, and they’re gonna go whether you like it or not. Too bad they don’t know how to ski…

  • Alex

    I agreed with Gumbel 100%

  • Paul N.

    I feel the same way. This man needs to apologize at least. HBO needs to fire him, just because he is washed up. You can also let HBO how you feel.


    You can go to this link at their web site and send a comment.

  • Ed Frankie

    One of the big differences between the summer & winter Olympics is speed. To question whether these winter Olympians are atheletes, one has to ask wheter they would be willing to travel over 70mph on skis down a bumpy trail?

    In my book, they are athletes and Mr. Gumbel is nothing more than a bigot.

    PS. Thanks for the HBO link, I sent my comments 😉

  • I think all of this shows the insanity of this continued illusion called race. Racism is very real from people of all shapes, sizes, and colors – but race is a failed scientific theory from a few hundred years ago. These problems will never go away until we throw the whole concept of race in the trash can of history.

    For those who claim that race is a real, physical thing I ask please define in real physical terms the black and white races. Please don’t attempt to give me the finer points of genetics for two reasons:

    1 – the geneticists already have this one settled – there is only one race, the human race. Of course there are differences (both external and internal) based on various breeding groups that have existed in relatively recent time (I’m an ex-geologist so I look at time from a more realistic viewpoint, i.e. from about 3.5 billion years ago when the first pulse of life began on this planet). These differences show themselves in many areas – but they do not “create” the existence of the black and white races.

    2 – when people use the terms black this, and white that in everyday usage, they are not talking about the finer points of genetics – they are talking about a whole lot more than that – this is the definition I desire.

    So please – if it is real and not a social construct (i.e. it is made up by societies) then please enlighten me as to its definition. I certainly don’t seem to get it. I’m little slow (must be my race 😉

  • Gord Oakes

    As a Canadian I take offence to the fact we did not have slaves(I am sure someone in Canada did). Funny how you can be lumped into one group for never doing the wrong thing. This has more to do with the lack of Afro-whereever’s from most of the countries in the Winter Games. Canada had a black man win a silver today, The USA had a black man win a gold yesterday. Canada has a black man on their hockey team(who knows if they can win anymore games…medal may never come). Korea has had many medals, as well as China and Japan. Please get off the white thing. Yes, people are cruel, but I am sure someone, somewhere has done you wrong at sometime. Get over it and stop making the people that are trying to do the right thing feel like…they can do no right. Stop attacking people in general…I for one have done nothing wrong. I like people because of who they are and how they make me feel. Not because of their colour.

    What would happen if you had nobody to blame?

    Gumbel is an ass…black or otherwise!

  • Scott Butki

    Can a black man be a redneck?

    And yes there are more blacks at dem conventions than repub ones. I’ve attended and covered both.

  • sal m

    i think a redneck is a state of mind as much as it is a lifestyle…why should a skin color be a limiting factor in any area, good or bad? although you could substitiute “ignorant elitist pig” if you prefer a high brow term.

  • The best Winter Olympics atheletes are from countries like Russia, Estonia, Norway, and Switzerland. How many black people live in those countries? Answer: Not many…

    And, yes, the US and Canada (who perform quite well in the Winter Olympics) have relatively large percentages of blacks in their countries…but I guess blacks in the US and Canada aren’t terribly attracted to sports like Luge and Ice Dancing…

    Bryant Gumbel apparently graduated from the “Spike Lee School of Racial Identity”…if there is anything in the world that is popular and doesn’t include a large number of blacks, that thing must be either racist or worthless…

  • alan

    to say that you cannot have a group of the world’s greatest atheletes without having more black atheletes is an absolutely true statement. this is not a racist statement, this is a fact. nobody complains that there aren’t more white people in the nba or as quarterbacks in the nfl because blacks are obviously superior in these areas, but we do not say that the nfl or the nba contain the world’s greatest atheletes, that’s just ignorant. also, in the comments about gumbel leaving his black wife to marry a white woman..what are you smoking? how does that relate at all to his comment. that’s trying to make this into an issue aobut race. i am not defending gumbel at all, but his comments were not out of line, just opinionated. you have to be opinionated to get a tv show, that’s why tv personalities make such shocking/one-sided statements. i guess you’re all just jealous that he has a tv show and you don’t, that’s the only reason i could think of for you getting angry. don’t get mad at a man for sharing a strong opinion, it doesn’t make his a racist, ironically, that’s actually what made him famous

  • sal m

    your comments are ridiculous, but thanks for proving that there are people like you out there who are just as racist as the dopes who say a black can’t be a good quarterback.

    to be a believer in your philosophy that you can’t have a group of great athletes without blacks in the mix means that swimmers aren’t great athletes, skiers aren’t great athletes, hockey players aren’t great athletes, snowboarders and skateboarders aren’t, etc. by the way, how many blacks need to be present to validate a group as having great athletes? do these blacks need to win or just be there? this is silly beyond belief.

    and the point about how gumbel lives his life is to show that he is a hypocrite of the highest level…his life looks like a GOP convention.

  • alan

    sal m,
    i am not saying that there must be a certain quota of black athletes to be considered the greatest athletes in the world, but i am saying that a large number of black athletes are among the greatest athletes in the world. i’m not saying that a group of swimmers cannot be great athletes, but i am saying that without adding all athletic events to the discussion, you cannot say that you have a group of the greatest athletes in the world. i have no problem with getting together a whole bunch of skiers and ice skaters and saying they are great athletes, but i do have a problem with saying that they are a group of the greatest athletes in the world. i am simply trying to point out that there needs to be many more people included in a group than only the winter olympians to consider them the greatest athletes in the world. surely these winter olympians are among the greatest athletes, but they do not make up the only group of the greatest athletes. they are the best at what they do, i do not dispute that and i do not believe that there must be more blacks in the winter olympics to consider the winter olympians great athletes, but i do think that to call a group of athletes the greatest in the world, you would have to have a much more diverse group. let’s be honest, there are many great athletes who are black. that’s my point, gumbel is spot on about that. sal, thank you for responding so that i could clarify myself…i hope this helps.

  • sal m

    what you clarified makes your position clearer, and is different than what gumbel said.

    that being said, i still do not agree with you.

    the winter olympians are certainly among the greatest athletes in the world. to assert because there aren’t enough blacks to satisfy some undefinable quota for how many are enough is foolish and reveals a lack of understanding for the nature of athletics.

  • actually, the olympics USED to be a venue for amateurs! It’s not supposed to be the worlds greatest athletes…it’s SUPPOSED to be the worlds greatest AMATEUR athletes! Guess we can blame things like the USSR’s hockey team for that???

    Besdies all that…Gumbels a dick!

  • alan

    i am glad that i could clarify and not come across as a bigoted ignoramus – rather only an opinionated ignoramus…

  • Ok…let’s take alans argument, or gumbels…alan…give us one name of a sports personality that you consider to be a great or even the greatest athlete…now…I’d almost bet that your pick won’t be say, a skier…or a curler for that matter…I’d bet my house that your greatest athlete wouldn’t be able to keep up with a winter olympian in their preferred sport. I bet Michael Jordan’s never even been on ski slope…hell for that matter he already proved that he can’t play more than one sport at the professional level…that’s why his baseball career never made it out of the minor leagues! So, if someone crawled out from under a rock back in the day when Michael was playing baseball, they probably would have thought that he sucked as an athlete at the pro level…obviously, he didn’t suck as an athlete…he sucked as a baseball player!

    Todays olympians are the greatest in their respective sports…it’s that simple….and it has nothing at all to do with the color of their skin…it’s more demographics than anything else…come on…how many snow skiers come from Florida?

  • sal m

    i don’t think you came across like an ignoramous…i just think that you might be caught up in a semantics issue more than anything…

  • Larry D

    As a Canadian I can sit back and be pretty objective. I believe his comments to be very racist and his tone was intended to stir things up. He is a journalist and as a journalist picks his words very carefully. I don’t think anything he said was unintentional. He is not a stupid man…and ignorant man maybe, but not stupid.
    The race card isn’t played up here as much as it is down in the USA, but it does rear it’s ugly head once and awhile ( whites vs. natives can be pretty explosive up here…Oka…Ipperwash) so I am not being all self-rightous here. As someone mentioned previously Canada does have some black athletes in the games (and the USA had a black gold medalist in speed skating a couple of days ago) The fact that there are so few blacks in winter sports is about culture and real estate. You don’t live in a cold weather envoirnment, you won’t be pulled towards cold weather sports. Case in point is the growing number of professional hockey players that are non-white coming from Canada. Jarome Iginla, Kevin Weeks, Ray Emery, Georges Laraque, Paul Karyia, to name a few. Not to mention one of the greatest goalies of all time Grant Fuhr.

  • sal m

    great comments…

    you nailed it when you wrote about the winter olympics being a matter of culture…gumbel is not only a racist but he has shown – through his comments – to be intolerant of other people’s cultures…we’ve been preached to by the elites that we have to respect all cultures, gumbel is the kind of person that respects only the cultures he deems worthy…truly a hypocrite.

  • Semi-off-topic comment:

    I believe we will see more and more black ice hockey players in the NHL…and as that percentage increases, we will see more and more respectful coverage of the sport from the mainstream media.

    Just an opinion…we will see…

  • sal m

    i don’t know if we’ll see it happen that quickly since hockey isn’t so popular at this time…although it would seem to be a natural progression…high school hockey is pretty popular in new jersey, but the prep/private schools and the suburban schools are still where the game is being played…until inner city schools add the sport it’ll be tough for black kids to have access to it.

  • omar butler

    Wake up people – People already say the NBA is to black, they actually say it everyday. When people decry tattoes, braids, dress-code, hip hop’s influence on the NBA. You are basically saying the NBA is to black. When corporate america pressures David Stern to implement policies which are directed at the players, that is in fact saying the NBA is to black.

    When people talk about the intelligence of Payton Manning, Eli Manning and Tom Brady and “compliment” Mike Vick, and Daunte Culpepper on their athlectims, what they are really saying is that the black quarterback will always rely on this physical ability rather than the “more celebral” (white) quarterback who makes intelligence decision. Dononvan McNabb is perfect example of this.

    He changed his entire style to fit the mode of “intelligent” quarterback, ignoring his obvious physical gifts.

    Society makes generalization about blacks everyday- watch the news, watch a basketball or football game…there are always references to the various atheletes and their physical/celebral attributes.

    So before everyone jumps out of the closet with cries of reverse racism, and the “see I told you so’s”–be honest with yourself.

  • sal m

    reread the post…i say anyone who makes baseless race based claims is an idiot regardless of their color.
    also, i disagree about your point about the current state of the nba and why people don’t like it…the nba for at least a generation has always been more black than white…white people lionized and worshipped dr j, magic, michael jordan, kareem, wilt, bill russell, david thompson, earl the pearl, bob lanier, dave bing, clyde and the rest of the black superstars…kids didn’t wear bill bradley or john havlechek or dave cowens or bill walton jersies…

    the current version of the nba is a joke, from a skill standpoint and from an attitude standpoint…if you want nba-fandom to be based on whether or not people like rap and the nonsense that is incorporated in its lifestyle, than the nba is doomed…if the new test has become you must like rap and tatoos and punks or else you’re a racist, you are cheapening the real elements of racism.

    and the fact that some white dopes still generalize about blacks doesn’t make it ok for a black dope to generalize about whites.

  • jamaican

    I’m black, and Bryant Gumbel’s little speech was as out of order as Don Imus’s…and in BOTH cases i see a tendency to make jokes based on what they mistakenly thought were culturally ok to say…gumbel thinks cause he’s black it’s okay to make cliche statements about sports that are not popular with blacks…don imus thinks cause he’s a shock jock expected to say shocking things and black hip hop culture degrades black women the way he did, that it was okay for him to throw it out there the way black people do…

    And I see how black people are allowed to air their grievances against america until people ears start burning, but white people are allowed no outlet for their side…and we all know in any serious problem, mediation can never work EVER if BOTH sides are not allowed to air their side and be taken seriously. I see truth in what the black people say (not all of it) and I see truth in what the white people say (not all of it) and i realize it’s honestly not a colour thing, it’s a culture and class problem that happens to fall along the colour lines in most cases. And because there is truth in both arguments that neither side wants to give credit to and really deal with…it will never change… and for the record i am not some rich kid, but if i was to run myself in debt, it wouldn’t be for bling bling, it would be to put my children in private school because I went to private school in Jamaica and I believe in the power of a great basic education (and because I also believe in uniforms, religion IN schools, and being able to pick up both my kids from the same place and live wherever i can afford without having them zoned for some low-rated school, not to mention the lasting, close-knit friendships that form when you’ve gone through the growing years with the same circle of friends)…

    Please don’t judge all of us based on Bryant Gumbel. I didn’t know what any of his opinions were til I saw this, just that black americans saw him as an Uncle Tom…but now I see he is another ignorant instigator easily dismissed right along with his opinions.

  • jamaican

    and i forgot to say that yes, since don imus was fired even though the girls handled things themselves and decided to accept his apology, gumbel needs to be fired because joke or not, the nation is not so cool with race that people can be racist on national tv outside their own little circle…he’s not at home with his buddies, he’s on tv.

  • Desmond

    all black dudes in the end ended up with caucasian women after they got money:
    nba players, movie stars, a singer and a golfer
    they are so proud to be black but they prefer blond lol