Toure Nails It: Pro Athletes Aren’t Slaves

Believe it or not, I didn’t know who Toure was until about a week ago. The only Toure I knew of were the Toure twins who played for Manchester City. Having done some research on the dude I can imagine many of you have a strong opinion of him. Anyway, as I said, I didn’t know the dude from the man on the moon until just last week. Why I bring this up is that I came across this article of his yesterday (it was retweeted by the great JPQ, for those interested) and I loved every bit of it. His opening sentence is brilliant:

We need an absolute moratorium on referring to professional athletes as slaves and to owners as massas.

Bravo. Standing ovation. Brilliant. Why we feel the need to go extreme when making analogies (looking at you, Bryant Gumble) is beyond me. If you need to drop “Hitler,” “Eichmann,” “Slaves” or any other buzz term designed only for shock value, your point isn’t strong enough on its own merit. NBA players are predominantly black. The owners and coaches are predominantly white. Well shit, if that isn’t enough to label one group slaves and the other massas I don’t know what is. Or at least that’s what dolts like Gumble would have you believe.

The destruction of this argument is easy as pie. I’ll let Toure explain:

But the one thing that destroys the athlete-as-slave analogy is the heaping piles of money they get to play a game they love and choose to play. The term “million-dollar slave” is an oxymoron. Athletes willingly, enthusiastically, enter into the transaction and are remunerated in a manner that puts them in the upper class. Once you’re paid six or seven or eight figures to do something you want to do and you gain the financial power to shape your life and improve the lives of those around you, well, then we are as far away from slave territory as we can get. You can’t remove the financial aspect from the equation: it’s essential.

What sucks about Gumble’s stupidity is that it will take black writers (and black coaches, black players and black owners) to call out this crap. If it’s a white person it can be countered with, “well, you’re white, you don’t know.” But if guys like Toure call this stupidity out when it erupts, it will be stamped out much quicker. Bravo, Toure. I didn’t know who you were a week ago, but I’ll be reading you regularly now.

  • Dave K

    I didn’t know who you were a week ago, but I’ll be reading you regularly now.


  • Trey


  • arkbadger

    good post

  • Mark Mizerle06


    I’ve never heard of him either. I enjoy a rational article though so I’ll prolly check him out.

  • Trey

    Gumbel is a dick…asserts himself into stories. Ala ESPN

  • ParrishWalton


    Seriously. I had no clue who he was until I saw him on Real Time last week.

  • HikeMusa

    Hopefully, buy I doubt it, a few quotes will suffice to prove Toure wrong. ” In suppressing slavery, no claim was made that either wealth or its advantages were suppressed… It was therefore necessary that things should remain the same except in name.. It has always been necessary for the majority of men to continue to live in the pay & in dependence of the minority which has appropriated to itself all wealth. Slavery has therefore been perpetuated on the earth, but under a sweeter name.”
    “Men have only been reduced to depend for their subsistence on the liberality of another man when the latter by despoiling them has become rich enough to return a small portion to them. His feigned generosity could be no more than a restitution of some part of the fruits of their labours which he has appropriated.”