Race and Sports

Listen to the whole thing here.

Luke: "How do you feel race is covered by sportswriters?"

Santa Rose Press Democrat sports columnist Lowell Cohn: "That’s the hardest question you’ve asked me. I know that African-American athletes feel that they are basically covered by a white press and that there’s some sort of cultural barrier and that we don’t understand them and represent them quite accurately. My feeling is that they are probably right. Because I am a white guy, I don’t understand. I don’t have their point of view, I have my point of view. I do think it is an issue. I think it would be great if there were more African-American sportswriters who weren’t only covering the NBA. They put them on the NBA. That’s a stereotype as well. I wish they were all over the place.

"If you are asking me is there a resentment from white writers to black athletes, I don’t think so. I haven’t seen that. I think there’s conflict between athletes and writers. I don’t think there’s any more from black athletes."

Luke: "I think that one of the biggest, if not the biggest faux pas, you can make in educated society today is to say or write anything that can be construed as racist."

Lowell: "Yes."

Luke: "What are the implications of that for how people write about race?"

Lowell: "Yes, I think that even what you hear in my answers is that you steer clear of it. There’s probably less candor and less experimentation and less bravery around those issues than around many others. I think, for example, you are afraid that you could write something that could be misconstrued of being disciplined or fired because newspapers are businesses and they have to protect themselves. Sportswriters are more careful and less brave, and that includes me for sure, in those areas than almost anything else. They seem to be verboten."

Luke: "Are there any NFL coaches that enjoy their jobs or do they all suffer as Bill Walsh did?"

Lowell: "I don’t know NFL coaches as deeply as I knew him. He enjoyed part of it because he was very creative and he got to game plan and he got to win. My impression is that NFL coaches have a crummy life. They are away from their families a lot. They lose a lot of sleep. They are under tremendous pressure all the time. They age. One of the things I learned being around a football team is that I could not imagine why anyone would want to be a football coach. It is such a dislocating life."

Luke: "What have you learned from being interviewed on the radio and TV?"

Lowell: "I’ve learned that I’m pretty verbal and I don’t have to prepare in advance because there seems to be a mechanism in my head that is a cause and effect. Ask a question, I have an answer. I’ve learned to have this persona which is very verbal, very colloquial, passionate, funny, informed, bright. I can convey that and I like to do it. One of the reasons I write like I do is that I like to have my say. On the radio, I have my say without the intermediary of a newspaper."

Luke: "Thank you so much, Lowell. This has meant a great deal to me. This is like a dream come true."

Lowell: "That’s so nice of you, Luke. I want to say that I appreciate that you got in touch with me. I always admire people who have enterprise and you really do and in addition you conducted one helluva of an interview. You did great. I don’t know if I could’ve done as well as you did."

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see Amazon.com). My work has been covered in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and on 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (Alexander90210.com).
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