Jalen Rose’s ‘Tokenism’ Comments About White Player Are A Problem, But The Double Standard Is The Real Issue

PHILADELPHIA, PA - JANUARY 25: ESPN analyst Jalen Rose looks on prior to the game between the Los Angeles Lakers and Philadelphia 76ers at the Wells Fargo Center on January 25, 2020 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

Last week on “Jalen & Jacoby,” ESPN host Jalen Rose claimed that the reason Kevin Love — a white player — was selected to the roster of the U.S. Olympic basketball team was because of “tokenism.” He then went on to say that he was “disappointed” in the selection committee for being “scared to make an all-black team representing the United States of America.” 

It may have been a “hot take,” but it wildly missed the mark. The implication was that the only reason Love was selected was because of the color of his skin, and that the selection committee would somehow be uncomfortable with an all-black Olympic team roster. 

On Sunday, Rose “apologized” for his comments in a 42-minute Instagram video. 

“If I feel like Kevin Love should make the team or not, I’m entitled to my opinion,” Rose said, as reported by Fox News. “You don’t have to like my opinion, you don’t have to like me. There’s a lot of people trying to assassinate my character or whatever, but those people, some of them, have been trying to for like 30 years … that’s how it is when you have the nerve in a lot of peoples’ estimation to be outspoken.”

“But you know why I’m apologizing right now? To the game. Because I’m what the game made me,” he continued. “I was raised by the all-time greats and you know what I would never want to do? Disappoint [Rose’s late mother] Jeanie Rose or disappoint the all-time greats that raised me.”

That’s not an apology, but that’s really not what we should be focusing on. While I didn’t like what Rose had to say, I’m also against cancel culture, so firing Rose is not a valid option. 

The real crux of the issue is that Rose is comfortable saying racially charged words on a major show on the largest sports network around. 

“You don’t have to like my opinion, you don’t have to like me.” 

Exactly, Jalen. But while we should all be able to disagree, this simply isn’t the case.

If the roles were reversed, with a white person speaking about a black player in the same manner, he or she would be immediately removed — live on-air — and fired. That individual would never work in sports again.

And yet — based on the history of ESPN and their handling of similar situations — it’s doubtful that Rose even needed to apologize for his words. In fact, Rose made it clear in his video that no one pressured him to apologize. 

For example, in 2020, ESPN football analyst Domonique Foxworth went on Bomoni Jones’ podcast and discussed why he roots against Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen. 

I am fully aware that I have biases… And my biases are not based on Josh Allen, it’s based on the people defending Josh Allen. I would be 100% lying if I said when Josh does something dumb, a little part of me doesn’t get happy. It is not because I don’t want Josh to succeed, it’s because the people who are telling me that Josh is the ‘second coming’, and Josh is better than everybody, are people with American flags, and dogs, and skulls and crossbones in their avi’s, and when you go take a dip into their tweet history there’s some really concerning retweets and likes.

Foxworth’s offensive comments were called out by Fox Sports’ Clay Travis, yet the backlash didn’t result in any punishment for Foxworth. 

“Statements like these are fundamentally unfair and unbelievably stupid, and not to mention racist, let’s be honest here,” Travis said. “If any white ESPN analyst said he roots against Lamar Jackson because of the people who root for Lamar Jackson he would be fired on the spot, and it would be a major national story…”

Travis alluded to the hypocrisy of ESPN, allowing some to say whatever thought comes to mind while others constantly face pressure to toe the company line.  

“We can’t have a marketplace of ideas where some people are allowed to say whatever they want, and other people are not able to say whatever THEY want. If you’re not going to condemn stupidity across the board, regardless of who is being stupid, then you are fundamentally failing in your analysis of any argument…” Travis added.

But we no longer live in a world where the rules are applied equally to everyone, regardless of race or creed. 

What Rose said is undeniably offensive. However, the real issue is that he felt comfortable enough to say it on ESPN in the first place.

Joe Morgan is the Sports Reporter for The Daily Wire. Most recently, Morgan covered the Clippers, Lakers, and the NBA for Sporting News. Send your sports questions to [email protected].

The views expressed in this piece are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.

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The Daily Wire   >  Read   >  Jalen Rose’s ‘Tokenism’ Comments About White Player Are A Problem, But The Double Standard Is The Real Issue