Monday, April 28, 2014

Donald Sterling Doesn't Just Have a Race Problem. He Has a Class Problem.

A lot has been made about the comments (allegedly) made by Clippers owner Donald Sterling about race. But I think his comments about class are also kind of interesting. Here he (allegedly) is, talking about Clippers' players:

The woman reminded him that the Clippers roster is primarily black. 
“I support them and give them food and clothes and cars and houses,” said the man alleged to be Sterling. “Who gives it to them? Does someone else give it to them?” 
“Who makes the game?” he continued. “Do I make the game, or do they make the game? Is there 30 owners, that created the league?”
And hey, has there ever been a more perfect example of capital's view of labor?

Me? I'm pretty sure the league doesn't exist at all without the efforts of its workers. People buy tickets to watch the players. People buy the jerseys of players. Networks pay hundreds of millions of dollars to show players playing on TV. The owner, when he's seen during these broadcasts, is seen for a few moments if at all.

In other words: The players, the workers, generate whatever monetary value the team has to Sterling. Yet he sees himself as the provider! He gives them food and clothes and cars and houses. He makes the game.

I'm not being Marxist here: The NBA isn't a global phenomenon without owners to organize teams and an administrative office that exploits the game for maximum exposure and popularity. But the product, at the end of the day, isn't just the fruit of the players' labors — it is the players labors.

Thing is: Donald Sterling appears to be an exceptional racist. I don't think he's an exceptional captalist. He really thinks he makes the league. That should probably offend the player almost as much as his (alleged) racism.