HBO’s “Real Sports” host, Bryant Gumbel, isn’t pulling any punches in his recent comments on the National Rifle Association, and many feel his words and courage make him a knock-out in the world of sports journalism for it.
In an interview with Rolling Stone, Gumbel called the NRA a “curse upon the American landscape.” And if that wasn’t direct enough for you, he also said:
I think they’re pigs.
Gumbel’s comments came up as a brief aside in his interview with Rolling Stone regarding the “Eat What You Kill” movement he filmed not too long back, even stating outright that the segment was not about guns at all, but rather a movement that believes one should have a closer connection with the food one eats, even meat, which is not a terrible idea to say the least. It stands to reason that far less people would eat meat if they had to go out, hunt it down and kill it themselves in a natural environment, rather than pick it up from a local grocery store after it’s been pumped full of drugs and caged its entire natural-born life simply to fill the bellies of complacent Americans.
You can see a short clip from Gumbel’s “Eat What You Kill” segment below:
So Gumbel’s comments are far less to do with the movement focused on in his recent segment, and much more to do with Gumbel’s more general feelings about the NRA as an organization. They are private thoughts admitted through the public vehicle of an interview with Rolling Stone, and in the gun-crazy social climate of the contemporary United States, such declarations can be scathing, especially when you outright call the organization “pigs.”
In the interview, Gumbel stated:
There are a few things I hate more than the NRA. I mean truly. I think they’re pigs. I think they don’t care about human life. I think they are a curse upon the American landscape. So we got that on the record. That said, I’m willing to separate that this story had nothing to do with that. It’s not a gun story. So I would like to think that I would have done it, but I don’t know. Obviously, that was my first experience around killing and guns and hunting.
You can see there that Gumbel, himself, distinguishes that just because the segment contained use of guns didn’t make it necessarily about guns and the larger guns issues that are constantly volleyed around the country. Instead, Gumbel’s segment focused on the sport of hunting, and a particular movement that has come out of that sport.
Of course, recognizing hunting as a sport is its own controversy for folks to fight over, as well as the moral and ethical grounds it treads through while taking a life for “sport.” That’s an entirely different subject altogether from Gumbel’s comments, as well as the segment, which focuses on folks who, at the very least, use the fruits of that sport for more than mere trophies, but for nourishment.
And Gumbel is perfectly comfortable standing his ground on his NRA comments. He believes “Real Sports” hasn’t been around 20 years for shyly mincing words all that time. To that regard, he stated:
I think more often than not, in what passes for sports coverage, people are preoccupied with keeping the gloves on. Don’t offend anybody. Make nice. So they are conscious of keeping the gloves on. We don’t go into something saying gloves-off; we just say we’re not going to put gloves on.
Surprisingly, however, the NRA has yet to respond to Gumbel, but you’d be a fool to believe that no response is coming. More than likely they’re crafting their response and seeing how they can put pressure on Gumbel’s sponsors as we speak.
In that same interview, Gumbel helped his fans understand a bit of where his frank approach comes from by speaking about the recent controversies sacking the NFL. Speaking on a desire to interview Commissioner Roger Goodell, Gumbel stated:
Oh, God yeah! And Roger and I – I’d like to say, ‘are friends,’ but maybe ‘were’ is the operative word now. I like Roger, but I don’t think with things like this he wants any part of me. I think increasingly people who have image problems or complications that result from something they have done find a soft landing. . . . So Roger Goodell can sit down with the NFL Network, for example, and get asked what color his suit really is.
I grew up believing that the best way to put something behind you was to be seen confronting the issue and answering the questions honestly. Now guys simply get up in front of a microphone and go, ‘That’s water under the bridge, we’re going forward.’ But you never answered anything! Be you Michael Vick or Ray Rice or Adrian Peterson or whoever, you can’t stand there and say, ‘We’ve done that, I have nothing more to say…’ Jimbo Fisher, for example, down in Florida State, has been able to walk through this entire season without confronting any of the issues. It’s embarrassing. Bill Belichick wants to stand there and be [a jerk] and go, ‘We’re on to Cincinnati. We’re focusing on Cincinnati.’ You know what? F*ck you. I’m not going to ask you anything. We’re not going to give you any space.
Reading that, it’s very difficult to ignore the similarities between sports and politics, isn’t it? The tactics are the same, and from here, it certainly looks like the same lipstick on two different pigs.