Editorial – Sterling Penalty: American sports no place for Racism


In one of his first actions as the NBA commissioner, Adam Silver brought the hammer down upon the owner of the Los Angeles Clippers, Donald Sterling.

The released portions of tape that damned Sterling were a part of an hourlong recording of a conversation that Sterling had with his mistress, V. Stiviano. In the recording, Sterling made it clear to Stiviano that he didn’t want her to be seen with any black friends, including Magic Johnson and Matt Kemp whose pictures with Stiviano reportedly started the conflict.

The recording was reportedly recorded and released by Stiviano – although she publicly declined releasing the video via her legal team.

During a press conference on Monday, Silver banned Sterling from his Clippers organization for life, while at the same time, fining the billionaire real estate tycoon $2.5 million for his racist comments highlighted by TMZ over the weekend.

Sterling will no longer be allowed in or around the Clippers facilities, can no longer be involved in any business decisions made for the Clippers or on players, and can no longer be involved in the NBA Board of Governors or any other league activity.

The $2.5 million, the highest allowed fine under the NBA bylaws, will go toward anti-discrimination and tolerance efforts around the league and country, a fitting use of the money stemming from racist comments.

This punishment effectively means that although Sterling owns the team, he can’t have anything to do with them. The NBA is trying to force Sterling’s hand into selling the team, which hasn’t even been hinted to by Sterling himself.

A part of the reaction from the league stems from other legal trouble that Sterling has been a part of in his 33 years as owner of the Clippers. He has been in legal trouble stemming from housing discrimination cases, including being sued for not allowing, or making it difficult for, non-whites or people with children to obtain his properties, spending millions to keep the cases out of court.

Sterling was even sued in early 2009 by his former general manager, and Hall of Fame Los Angeles Laker forward, Elgin Baylor for employment discrimination. Baylor served under Sterling for 22 years.

In another wrinkle to the story, even with his appalling history against other races, Sterling was supposed to receive his second lifetime achievement award from the Los Angeles branch of the NAACP this week.

But, in the end, what does this ruling do?

First, and most importantly in the eyes of Silver, it strips ownership power and money away from a known racist.

This will also certainly bring in rules banning racial slurs by players and personnel on and off the court. The NFL has just implemented a rule that, starting next season, penalizes players for using slurs on the field.

Silver’s punishment makes a resounding statement to the American public. Look for athletes, coaches and commissioners alike to rally behind the ruling and implement rules to make this stick. It will probably continue to make a statement for years to come in America.

Unfortunately, this ruling needs to be broadened for all sports in every country, not just America. Though people justifiably think that this is a huge deal in America, it still fails in comparison to what athletes face throughout the world.

Just on Sunday, an all-too-common occurrence happened on the soccer pitch when a Villarreal CF fan threw a banana at Barcelona’s Dani Alves, a Brazilian native.

However, this is hardly the first time for such instance. In 2010, fans of the Russian club Lokomotiv Moscow made a sign saying “Thanks West Brom” with a banana painted on it after the club traded Nigerian Peter Odemwingie.

Racism in sports outside America can be severe, and impacts players to an extent that is unimaginable. American teams do not have to broadcast before games that it will not allow any racist actions. Can you imagine what it does to the athletes in those countries?

While Silver’s punishment sets a standard for American sports as it begins to weed out racism in the industry, a lot still needs to be done to curve racism in sports throughout the world.

Emilio Rivera is a freshman in pre-journalism. Please send comments to sports@kstatecollegian.com.