By Justin Spiro
July 23, 2015
Full disclosure: I know Colin Cowherd. And I like him.
With that said, I want to address the latest erroneous accusation regarding the nature of Cowherd’s soul. Once again, Cowherd has found himself in the crosshairs of the blogosphere, with Deadspin one of several websites taking their usual potshots at the radio commentator. This time, it is his supposedly prejudiced comments against Dominicans during Thursday’s show that has everyone in an uproar.
It is most appropriate to include the precise statement that launched the latest “controversy”. Here is the statement Cowherd made about Dominicans and baseball that has everyone demanding he reveal his Klan membership.
“It’s too complex? I’ve never bought into that ‘baseball is too complex.’ Really? A third of the sport is from the Dominican Republic. The Dominican Republic has not been known in my lifetime as having world-class academic abilities. A lot of those kids come from rough backgrounds and have not had opportunities academically that other kids from other countries have. Baseball is like any sport. It’s mostly instincts. A sportswriter who covers baseball could go up to Tony La Russa and make an argument and Tony would listen and it would seem reasonable. There’s not a single NFL writer in the country who could diagram a play for Bill Belichick. You know, we get caught up in this whole ‘thinking-man’s game.’ Is it in the same family? Most people could do it. It’s not being a concert pianist. It’s in the same family.”
From those words came a tidal wave of accusations extending beyond any reasonable modicum of criticism.
“Cowherd is a racist!”
“Colin Cowherd thinks all Dominicans are stupid!”
“Here we go again! Cowherd’s casual racism is well documented”
Cowherd’s racism is well-documented? It is not difficult to ascertain what “documentation” that last commenter is referring to.
We have all heard this song before. No one has forgotten the John Wall soapbox. Remember how Cowherd was “racist” because he did not want his franchise point guard doing The Dougie on the court before his first NBA game?
Interesting. When Cowherd criticized Tim Tebow for alienating himself from teammates with his pregame pandering to the cameras, no one thought that was racist.
When Cowherd utterly dismantled Johnny Manziel for flashing the “money sign” several times before playing his first down in the NFL, at worst he was labeled a “hater”. Certainly not a racist.
In 10 years of listening to Colin Cowherd, he has been an equal-opportunity critic of immature athletes, particularly when the athlete in question is an NFL quarterback or NBA point guard. If “Knucklehead” were a race, then Cowherd is certainly racist against Knuckleheads.
But I digress. A quick read of Cowherd’s comments on Thursday reveal a criticism of the Dominican Republic’s education system, NOT of the Dominican people themselves. Let’s break it down.
“The Dominican Republic has not been known in my lifetime as having world-class academic abilities”
Here we have criticism of the country, not of the people. “The Dominican Republic” is not a person.
“A lot of those kids come from rough backgrounds and have not had opportunities academically that other kids from other countries have.”
This is a statement of fact. The statistics support Cowherd’s assertion that kids growing up in the Dominican Republic lack the same opportunities afforded to children in other countries.
- In a 2008 study of academic achievement for 3rd and 6th grade students in 16 Latin American countries, the Dominican Republic came in dead last in the areas of math, reading and science.
- Dominican Republic Preschool Enrollment is around 32%.
- The Dominican Republic’s public investment in education is 2.3% of their gross domestic product, which ranks 122nd out of 132 countries.
- For every 100 Dominican children entering formal education, only 75 complete grade 4; 63 complete grade 6 and only 52 complete the 8-year primary level. This situation is even worse in rural areas where most schools stop at grade 5.
Those numbers are eye-popping. The Dominican Republic is almost dead last on the entire planet for public investment in education. Half of their population does not complete the 8th grade.
So what are we criticizing Colin Cowherd for? His statement of fact that the Dominican Republic is not known for their robust educational system? Or is it his statement of fact that kids growing up in the Dominican Republic quite literally do not have the same educational opportunities afforded to most other people on the planet?
The rest of Cowherd’s statement merely suggests that baseball is easier to manage/coach than football. I don’t think anyone would argue that. I would take my chances managing the Detroit Tigers tomorrow. I would not take my chances dialing up a blitz package that could rattle Aaron Rodgers.
The movement toward ultimate political correctness has been mostly a positive in America. Much good has come from it. But when people are flippantly labeled “racist” for stating facts about the educational system in certain countries, we enter a danger zone.
To be racist is to believe in the inherent inferiority of another group of people. To point out a nation’s flawed public education system falls well short of “racism”.
It is a shame that Cowherd seems to constantly face a deluge of unfounded accusations. There have been few in the public eye that have been better champions for equal marriage rights and minority rights in general, with the recent Caitlyn Jenner story serving as a primary example.
It is Cowherd’s willingness to discuss sensitive issues that so often lands him in the blogosphere’s cask of boiling water. I hope he never stops dipping into the scalding well.