ESPN’s ‘The Undefeated’ Turns Lochte into Symbol of White Privilege

August 23rd, 2016 10:04 PM

Much like Santiago, struggling to bring his heavily-damaged prize into shore, before being torn to shreds by predators watching to see how large and vulnerable his doomed catch has become, the liberal sports media is working overtime to cement the notion of Ryan Lochte as “Great White Villain,” before the Brazilian Police’s version of his gas station exploits starts reading more and more like a massive lie.

In this case, the duty falls to ESPN’s The Undefeated, the site which promises to cover the “intersection of race, sports, and culture.” However, lest ESPN’s flagship diversity site be accused of a lack of diversity, this time they got a white guy to write it.

In an article titled, “Dear Fellow White People, White privilege is a thing. And Rio was the perfect example.” Kevin Van Valkenberg, writes, pretty much that:

“Dear Fellow White People:

The 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games have brought to my attention that some of us still don’t quite grasp what white privilege is. Or, even if we do feel like we get the concept, it’s still difficult to fully comprehend the way that privilege has set up a double standard that is so infuriating — and disheartening — to people of color.

My friends at The Undefeated didn’t ask if I would take a crack at explaining privilege in the context of the Olympics because I am a particularly “enlightened” or “woke” white person. I’ve just been working in the media for a long time, and this has become an issue that pisses me off to no end. The social tightrope that black athletes have to walk to avoid criticism is absurd, and at the same time, we can’t help but always give white athletes the benefit of doubt. What unfolded in Rio is a great example of how far we still have to go.

Take Ryan Lochte, the enfant terrible of the 2016 Games. I know what you might be thinking: Wait, didn’t the media rip Lochte to shreds? Didn’t he lose his sponsorships with Speedo and Ralph Lauren? How is he an example of white privilege? Hasn’t he been punished enough?

Don’t look at the end of the controversy; go back to the beginning.

Lochte was certainly criticized after it became apparent he’d exaggerated some details, and completely fabricated others, in recounting a drunken night on the town. But initially, he faced almost no skepticism for a preposterous story where he cast himself as the Frat Bro version of Jason Bourne. NBC even let its own version of white privilege, Billy Bush, defend his bro repeatedly, leaving the normally good-humored weather anchor Al Roker as the one man left willing to hold the line and practice anything resembling journalism.”

It needs to be said, that the reason why Lochte faced almost no criticism at the very beginning has nothing to do with the fact that he’s white, and everything to do with where this incident happened. Rio, a town the same media trying to excoriate Lochte told us was basically a cross between Tombstone, Deadwood, and Fallujah, with a dash of Zika thrown in for kicks.

Lochte’s story wasn’t criticized, frankly, because it was in line with everything we had heard about Rio. Had Lochte come up with his tale of gas station hijinks while walking the streets of Columbus, Ohio, this story would have merited a much, much more scrutinizing look.

But enough of that. Back to how privileged you are:

“…Try to imagine, just for a second, what the world’s reaction would be if a black athlete got drunk, urinated in public, destroyed some property, then concocted a story in which he bravely stood up to someone with a gun who was attempting to rob him and his friends.

Then, when his whole story fell apart, ask yourself if it would be brushed off as an example of a “kid” making a relatively harmless mistake or become fodder for countless jokes.

As has been mentioned, Lochte is the same age as Carmelo Anthony, Team USA gold-medal winner. But Lochte is a year older than basketball great LeBron James. Try to imagine NBC’s personalities twisting themselves into a pretzel in defense of James and referring to him as a kid. The definition of privilege, in this era of Trayvon Martin, Tamir Rice and Eric Garner weren’t given a scrap of the benefit of doubt, is Lochte and his USA swimming teammates knowing they could buy their way out of trouble in the middle of the night and still cast themselves as both victims and heroes.”

That’s funny, especially since I’m old enough to remember when the media treated us to a daily barrage of photos of Trayvon Martin, looking about as harmful as Steve Urkel, while at the same time treated to a bevy of pics of George Zimmerman that made him look like he had just emerged from a biker bar.

I wonder who the media gave benefit of the doubt in portraying the two that way?

The rest of this silliness can be read here. Yet, as we realize more and more that Lochte’s version of events was a whole heck of a lot closer to the truth than the amazingly corrupt Brazilian police are letting on, ask yourself this question: what kind of privilege does a white athlete like Ryan Lochte truly have, when he can be shaken down by armed security guards on foreign soil while getting slammed by the media and losing lucrative sponsorships here at home? That’s privilege?

Van Valkenberg asks us to imagine the “world’s reaction” if Lochte had been black. I’ve got a better idea. Let’s imagine the sports media’s reaction if Lochte had been black. The sports media has gotten quite upset as of late over black people being harassed, and having highly dubious or questionable dealings with the police. Yet, when it happens to Ryan Lochte, they condemn Lochte?

So cops are racist and corrupt liars when dealing with black people. Yet, when violating the rights of white people, cops should be taken at their word?