A racist remarks of Kim Tae-Gyun, a Korean baseball player in KBO, made him an object of public criticism. the original source of his remarks
Kim Tae-Gyun picked up Shane Youman as the most difficult pitcher in KBO, because his face is too dark, so his white teeth blurs the ball. It often happens not able to hit the ball with the white teeth overlapping to disturb looking at the ball.
One sarcastic anonymous reply of this remarks was “Pitching is giving all of his strength, so pitchers usually clench teeth at pitching. The pitched ball 90 mph passes by the home plate in 0.4 second. In this case, the pitcher opened his lips, and the batter recognized it. What a great pitcher and a batter.”
How would it react by his impropriety, Out of Korea?
It is actually a tongue slip. It is difficult to say “What a bastard racist!” by the context of his remarks.
However, a mistake is a mistake and racism is racism. Let’s take a look at foreign cases. Racist remarks about Africans are rarely said in public, in the United States. The president is an African-American. It has been around 200 years from the history of slavery. Americans know that he would socially buried with his racist tongue slip, though it appears some of them are not careful. In 2000, John Rocker said he will not ever play for the Yankees or the Mets, because of gay, AIDS and foreigners. MLB commissioner and the president Bill Clinton blamed him. Then, he was fined $500 and suspended for 2 weeks. Racist remarks generally head to Latinos and Asians. Steve Lyons, Fox TV sportscaster was fired, because he made fun of his colleague Lou Piniella by his Spanish dialect. A sports correspondent in ESPN was fired, because he used ‘chink’ in the news about Jeremy Lin, a Taiwanese descent player in NBA. The anchor who delivered the news with the word was suspended for a month.
Homophobic remarks are similarly punished. Toronto Blue Jays suspended Yunel Escobar for 3 games by his homophobic remarks. He did not earn a part of his salary, $87,000 for the suspension. Roy Hibbert in NBA was fined $75,000 by his homophobic remarks. He did not ridicule gay people, but was just pissed, nevertheless.
Punishment at discrimination is harsher in EPL. John Terry in Chelsea called Anton Ferdinand in QPR “fu***n black c**t” during the game. And English FA punished John Terry by 220,000 pound fine and 4 game suspension. Fabio Capello the manager of English team had to resign, since he had told John Terry should be considered innocent before the sentence from the court. QPR players refused to shake-hand with John Terry after the happening, like a honor-punishment.
Audiences are punished, too. A fan was prohibited to come into the arena 1 year, after he spoke a racial comment to Dikembe Mutombo in NBA. The audience was convicted by the racist remarks to Park Ji-Sung. The punishments to discrimination is strict and harsh out of Korea.
Victimized Koreans, Are we innocent?
Koreans were angry at a racist ceremony of Federico Macheda in Manchester Utd. He mocked his face like a monkey at a game in Korea. But, he was not punished with the uncertainty of racism. Koreans were angry too when Marco Materazzi told his Korean colleague An Jeong-Whan about his garlic scent. There were similar anger at the racism case of a Hollister model last year and chink marks on the paper cup at Starbucks Atlanta in this year.
We are only sensitive when we are the victims. Ki Seong-Yong showed a monkey ceremony when he scored a goal at the national soccer match with Japan. It is actually making fun of himself by the western perspective. It is a very offensive insulting ceremony. But, most of Korean news media defended him; it was a protest against the Rising Sun flags in the audience (interpreter: Japanese used the flag in their empire age, the flag badly impresses other Asians from former colonies of Japanese empire, as Hakenkreuz does to Europeans.)
We do not see racism in Korean TV, because we can not recognize it. A TV show High Kick calls a big nose for Caucasian, a cunning face for Japanese and soot skin for Africans. It did not even become an issue. And we see Kim Tae-Gyun’s tongue slip. Actually, his remarks is softer than the above cases; 1) It was not a discrimination, but a casual complaint. Shane Youman was ranked 4th in ERA last season and 10th in this. 2) The remark was not delivered directly, but over through a radio broadcasting. Kim did not consider the leverage of the radio. 3) He apologized quickly. (interpreter: I still think he should be punished like 3 games suspension, in order to reinforce that the racial comments will not be tolerated. But, he would not be punished, because he is the leading hitter of THE pityful underdog team in KBO and the Korean kind-feeling policy)
America overcomes the conflict, Korea avoids the conflict
America was not free from racism. African-Americans could not play in MLB, but be only allowed in the Negro League. It was 1947, when Jackie Robinson began to play in MLB. It has been only 70 years. But, MLB universally retired his back number 42 across all MLB teams, and all players and umpires wear back number 42 at Jackie Robinson Day.
Kim Tae-Gyun’s remarks was a mistake, but it does not mean he can have an indulgence. No smoke without fire, no tongue slip without background thoughts. Americans had lots of racial conflicts and now consider racist remarks very sensitively. Koreans have just begun to adapt multiculturalism, yet had the sensitivity of the racist remarks.
Less social conflicts or less social sensitivity never be good. Punishing Kim Tae-Gyun does not help to solve the conflict. Baseball players are now public figures, therefore diverse supports are needed from teams and KBO, in order to make the players true role model for children.
American athletes in major sports think themselves they should be a role model in the society. Specially the sports of WASP, baseball does so. (It sounds a bit racism.) Now, KBO has over 30 years history and become more popular. Armature baseball as hobby also become popular. I think baseball players need to be a role model more than a skillful ball play if they want to make their job from a play to a respectful field.