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ISSUE 117 VOL 5 PUBLISHED 10/17/2003

Rush to judgment

By Peter Gloviczki
Staff Writer

Friday, October 17, 2003

A few weeks ago, radio talk-show host Rush Limbaugh resigned from his position as an analyst on ESPN TV’s “Sunday NFL Countdown,” a football pre-game show, after making disparaging remarks about Donovan McNabb of the Philadelphia Eagles.

In speaking about McNabb, who is one of 10 African-American starting quarterbacks in the league, Limbaugh said, "I think what we've had here is a little social concern in the NFL. The media has been very desirous that a black quarterback do well. There is a little hope invested in McNabb, and he got a lot of credit for the performance of this team that he didn't deserve. The defense carried this team."

Limbaugh’s suggestion is a blatant lie. It is absurd for Limbaugh to state that McNabb received undue credit for his abilities because he is black. His claims are racist, and his comments are utterly despicable. While there may be some isolated cases of media bias in professional sports, this is certainly not one of them.

Although the Eagles’ play this season has been less than stellar, with a sub-par record of 2-4 to date, these statistics do not accurately represent McNabb’s talent. During his five-year career in the league, McNabb has established himself as one of the most athletic quarterbacks in the NFL. In 2000, McNabb was the runner-up in the NFL’s Most Valuable Player voting, and this season he has completed half of his passes (82 of 167) for a total of 790 yards and two touchdowns.

Although he is an accomplished passer, McNabb also has success when running with the football. In fact, McNabb has rushed for 179 yards on 30 attempts this season.

Limbaugh has said in an Associated Press (AP) interview that the comments had "no racist intent whatsoever," but there are still serious doubts about the motivation behind Limbaugh’s words. For him to suggest that the media has a predisposed bias towards McNabb because of his race, and that McNabb’s recognition is unwarranted, serves not only to question the host’s views about minorities, but also his ability to assess the talent of football players.

Prior to the start of the NFL season, Limbaugh was hired by ESPN in an attempt to increase the number of viewers tuning in to the show. According to an Oct.1 AP article in the San Francisco Gate, the number of viewers who tuned in to watch “Sunday NFL Countdown” this season had, in fact, increased by 10 percent, though it is unclear if that increase was directly related to Limbaugh’s presence on the show. Now, in light of pressure from ESPN executives, Limbaugh has resigned – and rightfully so.

The actions of commentators such as Limbaugh, who declare – or even suggest – that successful athletes like McNabb have received recognition on the basis of race, must not be tolerated. When hiring commentators in the future, I urge ESPN and all major media outlets to screen their applicants carefully. Such intolerant views have no place on the airwaves.

Staff Writer Peter Gloviczki is a sophomore from Rochester, Minn. He majors in political science.

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