On Thursday night’s edition of The Daily Show, host Jon Stewart, along with correspondent John Hodgman, addressed the recent Donald Sterling controversy while also sending up the current inequitable relationship in sports between team owners and the athletes. In a near perfect segment, Hodgman and Stewart provided biting satire regarding the uncomfortable similarities between plantation owners in the antebellum South and today’s billionaire sports franchise owners who treat their athletes like little more than livestock.
In the second segment of the show, following a funny bit about the New York state legislature debating the merits of yogurt as the state’s official snack, Stewart brought up the fact that Sterling is being forced to sell his franchise, the LA Clippers. After discussing possible suitors, Hodgman appeared on set dressed in an old-school Clippers uniform. Hodgman was in character as a deranged millionaire. He then proceeded to get into a discussion with Stewart about how he was going to buy the Clippers because he wanted to be in control of his own “herd of humans.”
This led to an absolutely devastating exchange where Hodgman pointed out how disturbingly comparable professional sports is to indentured servitude. He first pointed out that he, along with other wealthy men, would be able to take turns choosing the young men that they’d most like to own, otherwise known as a draft. Hodgman then stated that he’d be able to publicly inspect their strength and agility, with Stewart affirming that as the method which sports teams scout players. After that, Hodgman referenced how, once he selected an athlete, he’d be able to dictate where the player would be located. He then brilliantly summed it up by stating the following:
“So to recap, I take them from their homes and compel them to perform physical feats for my pleasure and profit in a place of my choosing and when I tire of them I can trade them with my wealthy friends without their consent. Is that right, Jon?”
After that, Hodgman then indicated that he would follow Sterling’s lead and be extremely racist while running the team. This bit featured him getting rid of all the black players, moving the team to Boston and calling the franchise the Boston Whiteskins. This featured a hilarious line when he said he was going to take the Clippers “all white.” Stewart asked him to repeat himself. Hodgman said it again and added it was “like Mitt Romney buying mayonnaise on his way to the Coldplay concert.” When Stewart pointed out that you can’t get away with a name like ‘Whiteskins,’ Hodgman said that was “reverse racism” because the Indians had a team named after them in the Redskins.
A lot of the time, the Hodgman sketches are hit or miss. However, when they hit, they tend to hit big. This was one of those times. Hodgman aptly sent up the attitude many extremely wealthy team owners likely have when it comes to their players and race in general.
Justin Baragona is the Managing Editor at Politicus Sports as well as Senior Editor at PoliticusUSA. He was a political writer for 411Mania.com before joining PoliticusUSA. Politically, Justin considers himself a liberal but also a realist and pragmatist. Currently, Justin lives in St. Louis, MO and is married. Besides writing, he also runs his own business after spending a number of years in the corporate world. You can follow Justin on Twitter either with his personal handle (@justinbaragona) or the Sports site’s (@PoliticusSports).