Sports is Colorful and Colorblind: Remembering “Jimmy The Greek” Snyder

Jimmy the Greek On CBS

Anybody remember “Jimmy The Greek” Snyder? If you do, read this and reminisce. If you don’t, just know that he was no “Miss Priss.”

Ever stick your foot in your mouth? I mean the whole boot, shoelaces and all? Well, the late great sportscaster Jimmy The Greek did just that. “The Greek” once made a buffoon of himself by making himself a disgrace. He once went on bumbling and blundering and babbling about how Blacks are better athletes than Whites and Asians and Hispanics and any and all other races because of how they were bred in slavery. Wow. Wait, What?  And the SAD part about the statement is that some hate certain athletes because of their race.

But first, who remembers Jimmy?

Jimmy The Greek was a regular for 12 years on the CBS Sunday morning show, The NFL Today, a pregame show for National Football League (NFL) games. Known simply as “Jimmy the Greek,” he would appear in segments with sportscaster Brent Musburger and predict the results of that week’s NFL games. While already famous in gambling circles, his rough charm made him into a minor celebrity. However, . . .

On January 16, 1988, he was fired by the CBS network (where he had been a regular on NFL Today since 1976) after commenting to WRC-TV reporter Ed Hotaling at Duke Zeibert’s Washington, D.C. restaurant that African Americans were naturally superior athletes at least in part because they had been bred to produce stronger offspring during slavery:

The black is a better athlete to begin with because he’s been bred to be that way, because of his high thighs and big thighs that goes up into his back, and they can jump higher and run faster because of their bigger thighs and he’s bred to be the better athlete because this goes back all the way to the Civil War when during the slave trade … the slave owner would breed his big black to his big woman so that he could have a big black kid … 

According to the New York Times obituary, Snyder expressed regret for his comments, remarking: “What a foolish thing to say.” His CBS co-workers publicly stated that they did not agree with Snyder’s theories and that they did not oppose CBS’ decision to fire him. Black former NFL player Irv Cross said in the 30 for 30 documentary about Snyder that he worked alongside Jimmy for a long time and didn’t consider him to be a racist at all.

Racism is alive and well in the world, and by association, in the world of sports today as well. But it need not be. Cam Newton is a quarterback, not a BLACK quarterback.  At least that’s the way it should be. Are there white wide receivers and black wide receivers? And is there a difference between the races at every skill position on the field?

Now back to Jimmy the Greek.  What is the lesson to learn from this long lost sports legend? What case has race in the sports workplace? No place! Someplace we have misplaced the knowledge base that sports and athletics are colorblind. Yes sports are colorful. Thank God for the drama and tension and comedy and tragedy and theater and pageantry of sports. And thank God that all of that transcends the color line and breaks the color barrier. Thank God.

We are all human, because we all have some color or some “hue” to us (remember when African Americans were called “colored people?”) We all came from the same God, so that makes us all brothers and sisters. So let’s remember that sports is the great unifier, and that even without sports, we can and should and one day will come together as one, regardless of race, creed or color or ethnic origin. Amen to that.

Hit And Run

 

Jackie Robinson

 

In baseball, a hit and run is a high risk/high reward offensive strategy used to advance base runners. It uses a stolen base attempt to try to place the defending infielders out of position for an attempted base hit. In other words, the defense will be so busy with the runner stealing second they will be out of place to field the base hit, if in fact the batter gets the base hit. So, the risk in a hit and run situation, is that the batter may not get a hit. The reward only comes if the batter gets a hit, or the base runner is a sitting duck.

In legal circles, the term “hit and run,” means to leave the scene of an accident without either reporting the incident or waiting for police to arrive. To leave someone stranded when you hit them is not only immoral, it’s unlawful and just plain wrong. Comparing the term’s use, it’s amazing how a negative in one realm can be a positive in another. And so it is in life.

Jackie Robinson could hit and run. He broke the color barrier in baseball and he did it running and hitting. A hit is a big deal, such as a “smash hit.” A hit is a huge or whopping success, like a hit song or number that is pleasing and popular. A hit in the baseball game of life is a good thing or a high time and so we are formed and fashioned to get hits. By the way, hits on my blog are a welcome thing (Thanks for reading!)

A run is a score. When you get a hit you run the bases you are to run and head for home as fast as you can. Spiritually, we need more hits. Hitting is a combination of concentration, focus and timing. For some of us, our concentration is divvied and divided; its spit and splintered; it’s fractured and fragmented. We need focus. We need to forget the fiction of multitasking and concentrate on what matters; loving and living well. We would score more and strike out less if we would focus on edifying and enlightening and not demonizing and dehumanizing.

I just got a hit at work. I was in a hit and run situation and I not only got a hit but I caused our team to get a run. Every positive, purposive and progressive thing we do and word we say is a hit. Every negative thought and nasty deed is an out. Do the math. How many negative thoughts run through your head every day? We “hit” others with negative notions and damaging emotions that leave co-workers and co-laborers lying on the side of the road, and we then drive off and leave them for dead.

Hit and run, not for evil, but for good. Jackie Robinson Derek was a consummate baseball player, and is one of the most complete players of our time. He is the essence and epitome of a risk/reward player. He took the risk of doing what no player had done before, and then reaped the reward that resonates with us today. So remember that a hit and run that is a high risk/high reward strategy that will advance you, your team and your cause. Many don’t like to take the risk, but as the philosopher and theologian Søren Kierkegaard taught us, “Without risk, there can be no faith.”

So take a risk; hit and run. Be nice to the person that was meant to you; smile at the person that growls at you; go out of your way to do something for the person that wants nothing to do with you. In other words, “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, and do good to them that despitefully use you and persecute you” (Matthew 5:44). Force your opponents out of position; catch the enemy of our souls off guard; hit and run and make a play. The risk is worth the reward.