Bryant Gumbel’s remarks spark firestorm.

Bryant Gumbel, star of HBO’s Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel, sometimes says the darnedest things. Since the raison d’etre of Gumbel’s show is to unflinchingly examine the good, bad and ugly in the wide world of sports, it was only a matter of time before he or one of his crew went too far and stepped over the line.

“Finally, tonight, the Winter Games, Gumbel said in his closing monologue on last week’s (Feb. 7) show. Count me among those who don’t care about them and won’t watch them … Because they’re so trying … Like, try not to be incredulous when someone attempts to link these games to those of the ancient Greeks who never heard of skating or skiing. So try not to laugh when someone says these are the world’s greatest athletes, despite a paucity of blacks that makes the Winter Games look like a GOP convention (italics added). Try not to point out that something’s not really a sport if a pseudo-athlete waits in what’s called a kiss-and-cry area, while some panel of subjective judges decides who won … So if only to hasten the arrival of the day they’re done, when we can move on to March Madness for God’s sake, let the games begin.”

Gumbel’s remarks, which were prepared and vetted in advance, and which he read off a teleprompter, have garnered a heated response from a variety of sources. The Free Republic, a well-known if not universally respected reactionary right wing website, pounced on the African-American’s remarks, lambasting his reference to the Winter Games looking like a GOP convention. Larry Elder, himself a black man, and a firebrand libertarian according to Daily Variety (libertarians are the ultimate fence-straddlers, neither fish nor foul, political bisexuals who want the freedom to do whatever they choose in their personal lives, but insist on sticking it to the poor), took umbrage at Gumbel’s testimonial. And the usually passive posters at HBO’s Real Sports Bulletin Boards accuse Gumbel of being a racist, and they said it in a WIDE variety of ways.

We’re not thrilled with Bryant Gumbel either, but we’re even less thrilled with people who cannot spell. We do insist, however, as a matter of principle, that everyone, the controversy-starved BG and his cheap shot detractors alike, has their say, no matter whose nose goes out of joint in the process. And while Gumbel’s comments are his own and do not necessarily reflect the policy of HBO, one of the good things about Olympic Boxing, which will soon be coming to a TV near you, is that editorials of that sort, where the race card evokes a game of Three Card Monte played in the shadow of the Superdome, are rendered null and void by the cold, hard realities of the fight game.