Why I Feel Sorry for Donald Sterling

Why I Feel Sorry for Donald Sterling April 30, 2014

Donald Sterling, eccentric billionaire and owner – at least for the moment – of the Los Angeles Clippers basketball team, learned firsthand the weight of his own words on Tuesday. After allegedly being recorded making numerous racist remarks about African-Americans (both on his team and otherwise), the National Basketball Association handed him a lifetime suspension from association with his own team, along with a $2.5 million fine.

Though Sterling’s comments were highly inflammatory and distasteful, the NBA’s swift and severe consequences helps contain the damage, keeping the poison from infecting the league’s reputation any more than it already has. And good riddance to such attitudes, as they should find no audience in any public forum, let alone in a sport where a majority of the players are black.

Sterling’s consequence is not why I feel pity for him. He got what he deserved, and the stigma that goes with such shunning likely will weigh on his future business ventures. What saddens me for him is the sense I have of him as an individual, having read extensively about him online, and having listened to the audiotapes attributed to him.

Read more of my thoughts on the Sterling decision, and weigh in with your thoughts. In addition to your comments about Sterling, I’m interested in your perception of professional sports in general. Are the athletes, many of whom are paid millions of dollars, empowered by the current system? Or is it really a glorified version of antebellum colonialism? Are professional sports in the United States racist? And if so, what can be done about it?

Browse Our Archives