The Crescent

State Representative Mat Garofalo Tweets Offensive Comment

March 12, 2014

Minnesota State Representative Mat Garofalo tweeted an offensive, and for some, racist statement Sunday night about athletes in the NBA.

Garofalo’s tweet stated, “Let’s be honest, 70% of teams in NBA could fold tomorrow + nobody would notice a difference w/ possible exception of increase in streetcrime”

As the tweet spread, Garofalo’s words suggest the majority of NBA players are criminals. Racism comes into question because more than three-quarters of players are African-Americans.

The Republican representative doesn’t seem to realize the outcome of his words. In an email to editor Kevin Draper of the Diss, an NBA analyzer/commentator, Garofalo stated:

“Thanks for the email Kevin. I appreciate the chance to respond. I was talking about the NBA’s high arrest rate and that they are the only major pro league in which testing positive for marijuana is not a substance abuse violation. No intent beyond that. The culture among many pro athletes that they are above the law is the problem, not people pointing that problem out.”

Once again, he doesn’t understand the facts. The league has serious consequences for any use of marijuana, including entering a marijuana rehabilitation program, a fine of $25,000, and a five-game suspension.

The NBA is not holy. There are NBA players who are guilty of being involved in criminal activities, but not enough to categorize the whole NBA as criminals and thugs. In the beginning of the 2013 NBA season, New York Knicks guard J.R. Smith was suspended for five games after violating the league’s substance abuse policy. Smith tested positive for marijuana and it wasn’t his first suspension on record.

But that’s just one person out of the 469 players in the NBA. There are more, but I don’t think it’s acceptable to stereotype all NBA players into one group – it’s discriminating and disrespectful.

Garofalo released a statement Monday afternoon apologizing for his criticism and his misunderstanding of the NBA policy on substance abuse. A public figure, he needs to realize the damage his words can cause.

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