The TV show "The NFL Today" used to feature a professional oddsmaker named Jimmy The Greek. He was also a professional alcoholic. He was fired when, during a drunken interview, he gave his theory on why blacks are better athletes than whites.
Poor idea there for sure. But why might he have thought it was ok to discuss race and ethnicity in public this way? Perhaps it was because, for his entire life, he had been called Jimmy THE GREEK. Maybe that's the point when you stop being super-sensitive to racial topics, when people refer to you as [Your name] the [Your ethnicity].
And I love that people who thought it was fine to call him Jimmy The Greek were outraged by what he said. Imagine if instead of Jimmy The Greek, he was Raoul The Mexican . Would people have still been shocked? "You know who just said something insensitive? Raoul the Mexican! I just can't believe that Raoul the Mexican could be so culturally insensitive! It's too bad Raoul The Mexican isn't as enlightened about race as I am. I'm really disappointed in you, Raoul The Mexican."
The funny thing is his name wasn't even actually Jimmy, it was Dimetrios Georgios Synodinos. He was Greek after all. I can see the tech guys in the booth trying to type out his name out and being like: "D-i-m...oh, hell no. Jimmy. That fucker's Jimmy. Jimmy what? Uh, where's he from? Alright, good enough!"
Brent Musberger even used to call him just "Greek" on air. "Who do you have in this game, Greek?" I don't think this would've flown with other ethnic groups. You wouldn't hear: "Bengals-Lions: Who's gonna win, Jew?"
Sandpaper Suit is NYC standup comic Matt Ruby's (now defunct) comedy blog. Keep in touch: Sign up for Matt's weekly Rubesletter. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The ballad of Jimmy The Greek
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