NBA, Dani Alves, and racism.

Created on May. 09, 2014 7:45 PM EST

Amidst recent cases of racism that has swamped the basketball and soccer world, it is a fascinating ordeal analyzing the punishments and reactions to each incident. Prior to Donald Sterling’s outburst going global, an incident occurred within Spanish soccer that may have shocked sports fans across America but came as no surprise to soccer fans located on European shores.                                                                                                                                       
Barcelona FC’s Dani Alves was the recipient of a vile act of racism that involved him being on the receiving end of a banana being thrown at him from a Villarreal fan. Having spotted the banana by his foot he proceeded to pick it up, eat it and carry on playing. How he dealt with the incident received numerous plaudits from soccer players and celebrities alike for the sheer bravery of the act.            He later tweeted “My father always told me: son, eat bananas to avoid cramping lol how did they figure this out?” This light hearted response which received an overwhelming amount of support and retweets demonstrated Alves’s ability to see the brighter side of such a cruel act.                 The incident involving Alves sparked a campaign in which numerous soccer players were pictured eating bananas. Luis Suarez, a player who was handed an eight-match ban and fined £40,000 for racially abusing Evra was also pictured supporting the cause. The unity displayed by soccer players is reminiscent of the Clippers players removing their warm up jerseys to hide the Clippers logo prior to their playoff game against the Warriors.                                                                                                     The fan responsible for throwing the banana has since been arrested and banned for life from visiting the stadium with the possibility of a prison sentence. What would come as a surprise to many is that the fan was actually a coach within Villarreal’s youth academy and has understandably been relieved of these duties.                                                                                                                              In contrast, the Sterling incident and the way in which the NBA has responded has been swift and effective and will without doubt serve as an effective deterrent for others that wish to display such ghastly behavior. Spanish soccer faces a much more challenging task in eradicating an issue that has reared its ugly for a number of years.                                                                                                             Only a week after the Alves incident, Senegalese midfielder Papakouli Diop was a recipient of racist taunting from Atletico Madrid fans. Diop began to dance in front of the fans that were aiming monkey chants towards him. His response was both imaginative and courageous and like Alves, he chose to take a light-hearted approach.                                                                                                                      The response of these two players is notably different from other players that have been subjected to acts of racism. In recent years there have been incidents of players walking off the field or kicking the ball at the fans they believed to be responsible for targeting racist behavior towards them.               It is worrying to note that barely a week could pass between two incidents involving fans directing racism to players. It is clear that these aren’t isolated incidents which is what the Spanish soccer association would want you to believe.                                                                                                             Alves is no stranger to the mercy of racist fans and took a more solemn approach when speaking out against the Spanish soccer association’s handling of racism, claiming them to be “backwards”.                                                                                                                                     
The Sterling incident is certainly an isolated case in which the NBA has demonstrated their low tolerance of Sterling’s facetious ideals. As the owner of one of the league’s leading brands, Sterling’s conduct has uncovered a dark conception that begs the question, had it not been for the private recording by a close ally, what shocking behavior demonstrated by those at the top end of the spectrum has yet to be uncovered?
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