The NFL Scores a “B” for Racial Diversity and Gender Hiring Practices

The NFL has been under the microscope over a number of incidents involving players’ conduct within the past several weeks and now the league is under scrutiny for their hiring practices. The NFL received an A for racial hiring but got a C- for gender hiring in the latest Racial and Gender Report Card released Wednesday by The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport (TIDES). Click here to read more.

Here We Go Again…

Atlanta Hawks’ GM, Danny Ferry, is now dealing with the repercussions of racially charged comments he made about Luol Deng. As we move towards a multicultural society, how will racism evolve? Click here to read more about what Ferry said about Deng.

Should Ray Rice’s Punishment Be More Severe?

The NFL’s reaction to Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice punching out his wife in an elevator has been met with growing outrage by many people. Mainly because of its severity or lack thereof.

Read more here.

Diplo, Haim and Spike Lee Reveal Nike’s U.S. Soccer Kit For 2014 FIFA World Cup

Earlier today Nike unveiled its national soccer team uniform for the coming 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil, and assisting in the reveal of the red, white and blue uniform is DiploSpike Lee, and sister trioHAIM. Creating a bridge between fans and soccer players, the musical figures were pictured alongside the likes of players Andrew Luck and Ndamukong Suh, as well as other notable soccer fans such as skateboarder Erik Koston and track and field gold medalist Allyson Felix. Check out the kit above and head here for information on how to purchase.


What to Watch: Chinese on the Inside

Catie and Kimberly were adopted from China by a couple from Maine, who attempt to pass on a culture they’ve never known firsthand.

About a decade ago, Barbara Cough adopted two girls from China, Kimberly and Catie. Barbara and her partner, Marilyn Thomas, are raising the children in Portland, Me. I filmed the family last year when the girls (who are not biological sisters) were ages 9 and 11.

More than 80,000 girls have been adopted from China by Americans since 1991. In recent years, China has made adoptions by same-sex couples, already difficult, nearly impossible.

But at the time the girls were adopted, in 2003 and 2004, Barbara and Marilyn felt that adopting girls from China afforded them more protections as parents than domestic adoptions would have, given the complex rules around birth parents’ rights in America.

For Barbara, it was also a way to reconnect with her own history: her great-grandfather Daniel Cough was the first Chinese man in Maine to become a naturalized citizen of the United States. Though Barbara’s generation is only one-eighth Chinese, the family members proudly identify with their cultural heritage.

Documenting the Coughs gave me reason to reflect on my own thoughts concerning cultural identity. Growing up in the San Gabriel Valley of Southern California, the only Chinese I’d only ever known were first-generation immigrants and their children, like my family. Catie and Kimberly are simultaneously first- and fifth-generation immigrants in their adoptive family.

Barbara and Marilyn were married in Maine last June, shortly after I completed this piece. Their nontraditional household has challenged my understanding of the contemporary Chinese-American family — a reminder that this construct can take many forms.

The population in Maine is more than 95 percent white. There are few cultural resources for Asian-Americans; one notable exception is the nonprofit Chinese & American Friendship Association of Maine, which sponsors a Chinese school where the girls take classes.

The couple’s effort to expose their children to Chinese culture is markedly different from that of many Chinese-American families, like my own: For Barbara and Marilyn, their challenge is to pass on a culture that they appreciate, but have not lived firsthand. Meanwhile, their daughters will need to determine how much they want to affiliate with a culture they come from — one that they’ve been taught to appreciate, but to which they have little daily connection.


Jason Collins Becomes NBA’s First Openly Gay Player

Jason Collins has become the NBA‘s first openly gay player on an active roster, after signing a contract with the Brooklyn Nets.

Collins signed a 10-day deal with the Nets on Sunday, and will be available to play Sunday night against the Los Angeles Lakers. The veteran center had not been in the league since a six-game stint with the Washington Wizards in 2013. Collins is also the first active openly gay player in any of the four major U.S. sports (i.e. baseball, basketball, football and hockey).

Collins came out last May during an interview with Sports Illustrated. He was a free agent at the time, and was not signed until Brooklyn picked him up.

The signing comes just weeks after Michael Sam, a college-football player that will enter the upcoming NFL draft, came out. If he is drafted and signed, Sam would be the first gay NFL player.

College Football Star Could Be the First Openly Gay NFL Player

Michael Sam, a defensive linesman for the University of Missouri football team, publicly came out today. The 24-year-old, who will likely be selected in the early rounds of the NFL draft in May, would be the first publicly-out football player in NFL history.

Sam says he chose to come out now because rumors about his sexuality were beginning to circulate and scouts were approaching his agent asking whether he dated or had been seen with women.

“I just want to make sure I could tell my story the way I want to tell it,” said Sam, who gave interviews to the New York Times and ESPN today. “I just want to own my truth.”

Sam, a first-team all-American who is projected to be drafted by the third round, came out to his teammates last year.

Mr. Sam came out to two of his friends on the team, Mr. Washington and Marvin Foster, about a year ago. It was not a huge surprise. Mr. Washington was with Mr. Sam when Mr. Sam said he needed to go pick up a friend. He told Mr. Washington that the friend was gay and asked Mr. Washington if that would bother him. Mr. Washington said no, and Mr. Sam came out to him.

When he came out to the rest of the team, they had “varying levels of discomfort,” but Sam also said they “supported him from day one.”

“Once I became official to my teammates, I knew who I was,” Sam said. “I knew that I was gay. And I knew that I was Michael Sam, who’s a Mizzou football player who happens to be gay. I was so proud of myself and I just didn’t care who knew. If someone on the street would have asked me, ‘Hey, Mike, I heard you were gay; is that true?’ I would have said yes.”


Racist Chants From The Crowd Brought This Soccer Star To Tears

Mario Balotelli, the star striker for the Italian soccer club AC Milan was brought to tears during an away game at Napoli on Saturday. Reports from many of those in attendance say that his reaction was due to racist chants directed at him by huge sections of the crowd.

Balotelli has been the target of racist epithets in the past targeting the color of his skin and his African heritage. He has also faced anti-Jewish bigotry due to the fact that he was raised by a Jewish woman. Even Italy’s best selling Sports Gazette depicted Bolotelli as “King Kong” – a giant ape – climbing England’s “Big Ben” (now called “Elizabeth’s Tower”).

Still, statements from Balotelli’s coach downplayed any element of racism in causing the AC Milan star to cry. One teammate indicated that it may have just been his “passion for the game” and “desire to play” that brought him to tears.

“We are players and there are times when we express ourselves that way. I see nothing wrong or abnormal in that. I experienced it at times too,” Coach Clarence Seedorf rationalized to Sky Sport Italia.

“What can I say about Balotelli’s tears?” he continued. “They were the tears of a sportsman.”

Others tried to dismiss the tears as reaction to a paternity test. But Balotelli began crying even while on the field, and there was no evidence that he was checking his smart phone either from the field or the bench to receive word of such a DNA test. As well, it seems that he Tweeted word about that paternity test several days before the game, the chants from the crowds and the tears.

It seems that a lot of people will go to great lengths to dismiss claims of racism.


Glenn Beck: Multilingual Coke Ad Meant To “Divide Us Politically

Glenn Beck was none too pleased with Coca-Cola’s new multilingual ad, saying on his radio show the ad’s purpose was to “divide us politically.”

“So somebody tweeted last night and said, ‘Glenn, what did you think of the Coke ad?’ And I said, ‘Why did you need that to divide us politically?’ Because that’s all this ad is,” Beck said. “It’s in your face, and if you don’t like it, if you’re offended by it, you’re a racist. If you do like it, you’re for immigration. You’re for progress. That’s all this is: to divide people. Remember when Coke used to do the thing on the top and they would all hold hands? Now it’s ‘Have a Coke and we’ll divide you.’”

Watch Glenn Beck’s full commentary on the controversial ad here.

Here’s Coca-Cola’s multilingual rendition of “America the Beautiful”:

What Richard Sherman Taught Us About America

“I’m the best corner[back] in the game. When you try me with a sorry receiver like Crabtree, that’s the result you going to get.”
–Richard Sherman

That’s the quote that got America talking.

The man behind it was Seattle Seahawks all-pro defensive back Richard Sherman, a guy whose mouth is about the only thing louder than his game.

In the moments after Sherman’s post-game interview, Twitter exploded. People called him everything from a “thug” to a “disgrace,” and even Justin Verlander – a professional pitcher for the Detroit Tigers – suggested that Sherman would get “high and tight” fastballs if he were in the MLB. On top of that, tweets and memes like the one below spread like wildfire.

But from my perspective, the heat Sherman is getting is not just misguided but ludicrous. This is a guy who represents one of the best kinds of sports stories there is in the world: the rise from the bottom, the profound destruction of obstacles, the honest success story built by a foundation of hard work and loving parents. If anyone with a brain took the time to learn about Richard Sherman, and then put him in the context of the rest of the National Football League, he’d be a pretty hard guy to bash.

Firstly, we’re talking about a 25-year-old who came out of the streets of Compton, California. Sherman graduated from one of the worst school districts in the United States, one that boasts a high-school graduation rate of 57 percent. In a country where 68 percent of all federal and state inmates are lacking a high school diploma, you could say Sherman avoided a horrifying fate. But to say he “got lucky” or “escaped” would be foolhardy. He didn’t “just graduate,” either. He finished with a 4.2 GPA, second in his class, and went on to Stanford University, one of the most prestigious places to get an education in the entire world. He busted out in a rocket ship. He went from a world of gang violence and drugs to everything that Palo Alto and Stanford University represent.

And where did Mr. Sherman get the work ethic to put up those grades and make it to a school that offers that kind of education? Probably from his father, Kevin, who has worked in the sanitation department for Los Angeles for more than thirty years. But you won’t see that on Sherman’s stat sheet, and you definitely won’t hear about it when ESPN analysts comment on his post-game interview today. Most interesting, though, is that Sherman’s story isn’t a big secret. NFL Films has even done a short documentary on “the trash-talking cornerback.”


So now, America, let’s talk about Richard Sherman in the NFL. Let’s talk about the Stanford graduate from Compton who has never been arrested, never cursed in a post-game interview, never been accused of being a dirty player, started his own charitable non-profit, and won an appeal in the only thing close to a smudge on his record.

This past off-season, 31 NFL players were arrested for everything from gun charges and driving under the Influence to murder.

Last year, Kansas City Chiefs player Javon Belcher killed Kasandra Perkins, his girlfriend and the mother of his own child, before taking his own life.

Week in and week out, we sit down in front of our televisions and cheer for these freak athletes to destroy each other’s bodies in one of the most brutal games known to man. Most of us probably do it with a beer in our hand, screaming and cursing at our TVs in a desperate hope to change the outcome of the game. We ignore how the NFL’s owners use our tax money so freely, and we don’t seem to care much about the brain damage retired players suffer from every year.

Yet, when one kid who has overcome everything, one kid who was doubted by the very player he overcame on Sunday, decides to emphatically claim he is the best (by the way: he is), this is what upsets us? Man, could you imagine if this generation had to deal with Muhammad Ali?

Last night, when Richard Sherman went on his rant to Erin Andrews, most of America thought they were learning about the arrogance of another NFL player. But in reality, what Richard Sherman did was teach us about ourselves. He taught us that we’re still a country that isn’t ready for lower-class Americans from neighborhoods like Compton to succeed. We’re still a country that can’t decipher a person’s character. But most of all, he taught us that no matter what you overcome in your life, we’re still a country that can’t accept someone if they’re a little louder, a little prouder, or a little different from the people we surround ourselves with.

In the words of the great Richard Sherman, there is only one question: You mad, bro?