As the outrage over Donald Sterling’s racist comments exploded Sunday, another racially charged incident took place during a pro soccer game in Spain between Barcelona and Villarreal.
And it was a beautiful sight to see.
Embodying the Eleanor Roosevelt quote — “Nobody can make you feel inferior without your consent” — Barcelona defender Dani Alves responded to a racist taunt by a Villarreal fan by casually picking up a banana that landed at his feet, peeling it and nonchalantly taking a bite before proceeding to take a corner kick.
Alves said after the match that humor is the best way to combat racism in sports.
“We have suffered this in Spain for some time,” Alves said. “You have to take it with a dose of humor. We aren’t going to change things easily.
“If you don’t give it importance, they don’t achieve their objective.”
A Brazilian, Alves often has been subjected to racist taunts and called fighting racism “a lost war” last year, after segments of Real Madrid’s fans abused him with monkey chants during a match.
Alves helped spark Barcelona’s 3-2 comeback win when his off-target shot was turned into an own goal by Villarreal’s Gabriel Armando in the 65th minute.
Shortly after the banana incident, Alves launched a cross that Mateo Musacchio headed into his own goal in the 78th before Lionel Messi scored Barcelona’s winner.
Alves has inspired fellow soccer players, officials and politicians around the world to show their support for him on social media by posting pictures of themselves eating a banana.
Like Sterling, the fan who threw the banana at Alves received a lifetime ban. That should give him plenty of time to ponder what he can do with that banana.
■ HARDBALL OVER LARDBALL — We interrupt this report on racism to bring you a case of fatism in sports. Yes, fatism. It’s an actual word defined as “discrimination or prejudice based on a person’s weight.”
In a game story that ran in Friday’s New York Post under the headline ‘LARDBALL,’ Mets beat writer Mike Puma opened with this line: “If the umpires searched Bartolo Colon’s neck for a foreign substance on Thursday, chances are they only would have found peanut butter.”
The Mets were apparently incensed over the joke made at the expense of their 5-foot-11-inch, 283-pound teammate. After Friday’s walkoff win over the Marlins, New York’s players wouldn’t talk to the media, or even appear in the clubhouse, until Puma left the premises. He was asked to leave and did so without incident. Within a minute, several Mets appeared in the clubhouse.
This incident brings to mind a story told by John Kruk, who, when he played for the Philadelphia Phillies, was recognized by a woman who saw him in a restaurant eating a large meal, drinking a couple of beers and smoking a cigarette.
When the disgusted woman told him that a pro athlete should take better care of himself, Kruk leaned back and said, “I ain’t an athlete, lady, I’m a baseball player.”
COMPILED BY TODD DEWEY LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL