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Althea Gibson versus Jackie Robinson

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by sirvaliantbrown, Jul 6, 2007.

  1. I'm hesitant to post this, since I don't enjoy the frequent Jemele Hill-bashing that goes on around here. But...


    "This isn't a battle of barrier breakers, but it can be argued that Gibson's place in sports history -- American history, really -- is just as important as Robinson's. After all, Gibson broke not just one color barrier, but two. Not only was she the first African-American to integrate tennis, she also was the first black woman on the LPGA Tour.

    Unlike Robinson, Gibson was one of the best players in the world when she integrated tennis. She'd won 10 national championships in the American Tennis Association, the governing body for black tournaments. Gibson didn't have a Branch Rickey to ease her transition into the all-white world of tennis. And she faced incredible discrimination, because she carried the dual burden of race and gender."

    Because...golf and tennis are (and, you know, were in 1957) as socially significant as baseball; because NL ROY/MVP Jackie Robinson wasn't one of the best baseball players in the world; because Branch Rickey made things so easy for him.

    Mannn. Not - obviously - to diminish Gibson's remarkable achievements. But if you want to write an Althea Gibson column, write an Althea Gibson column! Or...if you really feel the need to do so - for reasons I surely will not understand - go ahead and attempt to make a fact-based case for her equivalence with Jackie Robinson. Just don't, you know, do this.
  2. FreddiePatek

    FreddiePatek Active Member

    If she's going to travel that path, then I offer up Larry Doby for breaking the American League color barrier and the ABA's color barrier (played pro basketball just prior to being drafted). Doby broke the ABA barrier in 1943.
  3. GB-Hack

    GB-Hack Active Member

    Try telling Martha Burke golf isn't culturally significant.
  4. I don't know if you're arguing with me, making fun of Martha Burke, or both. In case you're arguing with me: everything has some significance, obviously; Gibson did amazing stuff. But I doubt, somehow, that Harlem shut down when she played on Centre Court.

    (However, I think you were making fun of Martha Burke.)
  5. GB-Hack

    GB-Hack Active Member

    I'm saying there are a lot of people in the U.S. for whom golf has a major cultural significance. Tiger Woods wouldn't have had the impact he has had on the sports landscape if it didn't.

    Jackie Robinson, Joe Louis and Jesse Owens and other male athletes always get mentioned when athletes who broke down barriers are brought up. It's a valid question to ask why Gibson isn't as well.
  6. Starman

    Starman Well-Known Member

    Jackie Robinson, indeed, was one of the best players in MLB, from the moment he set foot on the field.

    Tennis, in the pre-open era, was barely an afterthought to the American sporting public. In 1947, no sport even remotely approached MLB's dominance of the audience. To say nothing of the fact that Gibson herself was able to make her historic appearances in no small part due to the influence of -- yes -- Jackie Robinson.

    Gibson was certainly important and influential, but nowhere close to Jackie Robinson.

  7. GB-Hack

    GB-Hack Active Member

    I understand the point Starman, but who among African-American women did more to break things down?

    Owens and Louis begat Robinson.

    Gibson was the first link in the female chain, and she barely gets a mention. And in all honesty, she should. Maybe not as big, but she's certainly up there.
  8. I disagree with the first part: we're talking 1940s and 1950s here. A minute percentage of the population cared about golf or tennis...an even-minuter percentage of the black population did. There's just no comparison.

    On the second point: fair enough, sure. I just wish Hill had made the fair-enough "Gibson should be placed in that group" argument instead of making ill-informed judgments about Robinson.
  9. GB-Hack

    GB-Hack Active Member

    Ben Hogan, Byron Nelson and the rest of the players of that era were major stars, and Hogan's comeback from a horrific car crash in 1949 to win another 13 titles, including U.S. and British Open's, was one of the biggest sports stories of the era.

    Arnold Palmer's emergence capped by his first major in 1958 on the heels of such players fueled the original great golf boom that was carried on by the following generations.
  10. spnited

    spnited Active Member

    I think Jemele might have stretched a bit in saying that Althea was as important as Jackie.
    But the point is, this woman should be honored for what she did in the same way Robinson is honored.
    And while we're at, how long will major league baseball continue to ignore Larry Doby?
  11. FreddiePatek

    FreddiePatek Active Member

    One thing I do sort of despise is the fact that Arthur Ashe is held in higher esteem for what he did in men's tennis than what Gibson did on the women's circuit.
  12. boots

    boots New Member

    Her point was valid. The difference was that baseball was the "All-American" game. Tennis is still just a blip on the radar to many.
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