Skip Bayless And Discriminating Sports Fans


I see from Gucci Little Piggy that “ESPN’s Skip Bayless is apparently drawing heat (from the internet ether, I presume) for saying on air that white sports fans prefer white athletes and black sports fans prefer black athletes.”

I have no interest in sports, had never heard of Skip Bayless, and have never watched any more of ESPN than it takes to surf right on to the next channel.  That remark of Bayless`, though, if correctly quoted, set neurons firing down along a dim and distant chain of literary memory.

It took me a while, but I tracked it down at last. The memory was of Jimmy Breslin`s  1973 novel  World Without End, Amen, which is about an Irish-American cop in New York City.  Here`s the bit at the end of that neuron chain:

Dermot walked down Queens Boulevard and went into the coffeeshop across the street from the courthouse. It has a sign in the window saying eggs are forty-four cents.  Johno was sitting at the far end of the counter, on the last stool. He was directly under a fluorescent light.  He had a bald spot. So he sat there with his hat on. He was the only cop in the place who kept his hat on.

Johno was eating an egg sandwich on a seed roll. He always eats the first half of a sandwich in one bite. He keeps it in the side of his mouth and swallows it as he goes along.  He had the Daily News open to the sports section. Under his elbow was the brown manila envelope with the evidence for court.

“You watch the Knicks last night?” he said.

“No.”

“I watched the Knicks game,” he said.

“Good game?” Dermot said.

Bradley done pretty good.” When Johno watches a basketball game, he only sees the white players. The Knicks usually play two of them. If one white guy doesn`t have the ball, or if one of them isn`t guarding somebody with the ball, Johno doesn`t know what`s going on in the game. Because he only watches the white guys. Then in the morning Johno only looks up the white guys in the box score. He reads how many shots they took, how many assists they had, the points they got. Sometimes he doesn`t even know who won the game.

Sports black hole that I am, I have no idea whether Skip Bayless (if correctly reported) is correct ? whether, that is, attitudes like Johno`s are still commonplace in the U.S.A.  They do seem still to be current among some subset of European soccer fans.  Wikipedia has a whole page devoted to “Racism in Association Football,” although the first thing it tells you is: “This article has multiple issues . . . The neutrality of this article is disputed” so who knows what that`s worth?