poorly played, david brooks

i don’t often take issue with david brooks, for whom i have a great deal of respect in spite of our opposing political views. however, his recent piece on jeremy lin completely bewildered me.

it opened like this:

“jeremy lin is anomalous in all sorts of ways. he’s a harvard grad in the n.b.a., an asian-american man in professional sports. but we shouldn’t neglect the biggest anomaly. he’s a religious person in professional sports.”

i’m sorry, but that is ridiculous. lin is an anomaly as a religious person in professional sports? what about the legions of black and latino athletes who are religious — and open about it both on the field and off? as ta-nehisi coates of the atlantic pointed out on twitter, “are there no black people in sports? the first person these cats thank is God. pro athletes routinely point at the sky. deion sanders baptized emmitt smith. … reggie white was LITERALLY an ordained minister.”

my frustration with brooks is the same frustration i had with tebowmania. why the big stink about him kneeling after every touchdown or talking about God off the field? how many hundreds of wide receivers and tight ends point to the sky after a touchdown? how many players thank God first in their post-game interviews? denard robinson was tebowing on national tv long before tebowing was even a thing. why was there suddenly all this hubbub around this one dude?

brooks never explains his glaring omission. the only explanation i can think of for his claim, and for tebowmania, is that tebow is white and lin is asian american, and for some reason, the religiosity of black and latino athletes doesn’t count. and that makes me unspeakably angry. why are they being overlooked? why do their displays of faith not count?

i don’t throw this card down hastily, but… all of this reeks of covert racism. i don’t have any other explanations. i don’t think brooks, or anyone else, means poorly — but that’s the nature of covert racism; it’s not that people are deliberately being racist, but their actions reveal underlying racist attitudes or beliefs.

all that to say that i was disappointed with mr. brooks. i lost some respect for him last week.

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