Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Jimmy The Greek and Herschel Walker

Herschel Walker has admitted that he has multiple personalities. Seeing him in the news made me think about Jimmy the Greek and the mess he got himself into back in 1988. Jonathan Rowe's 1988 article from Washington Monthly about the Jimmy the Greek controversy is pretty interesting.

There were two parts to Jimmy's comments. The part that seemed to get the biggest attention at the time was his comments about black people's thighs:
The black is a better athlete to begin with because he's been bred to be that way -- because of his high thighs and big thighs that goes up into his back, and they can jump higher and run faster because of their bigger thighs. This goes back all the way to the Civil War when during the slave trading, the owner -- the slave owner would breed his big black to his big woman so that he could have a big black kid.
This comment really got Jimmy into hot water. Frankly, I'm sure slave owners tried to breed stronger slaves, but in so few generations, it's hard to imagine that they were able to make a change that is reflected in such dominance by black athletes. I'm not contesting that folks tried to breed strength, nor am I doubting a physiological advantage, but I'm doubting the connection Jimmy suggested.

The other side of Jimmy's ramble was a bit more interesting to me. Here is a video of his second comment. The idea that whites were holding on to coaching jobs because that was all they had in sports is an interesting conspiracy theory.

Why did Herschel Walker make me think about this? He was an amazing physical specimen who was arguably the greatest NCAA football player of all time. He had the body of Adonis and never lifted weights; all he did was sit-ups and push-ups. That's a man with amazing God-given physical gifts. I could imagine that seeing Herschel emerge as whites are losing roster spots in professional baseball, basketball, and football (as well as on the US olympic team in various sports) would make you think that whites need to hold on to their spots in coaching. Herschel Walker and Bo Jackson (both of whom were in their primes in 1988) looked like genetically engineered supermen, so I can kinda understand the fear that whites would have little hope of competing in professional sports against these people who seemed to have a genetic leg up.

I feel sorry for the late Jimmy The Greek. All he did was put voice to what was going through the minds of many people in sports at the time. He didn't call blacks stupid or unqualified for managerial jobs (as Al Campanis did in 1987), so I don't think he deserved such derision.

Soundtrack: Jean-Michel Jarre (Equinoxe), Bjork (Post), Boris Kovac & Ladaaba Orchestra (The Last Balkan Tango), Mahavishnu Orchestra (Inner Mounting Flame), Miles Davis (Miles Ahead), and The Crystal Method (Legion of Boom) [it was a long day of reviews at work. no meetings]

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