Gil LeBreton Riles Canada With Misguided Star-Telegram Column

In the comments to Leading Off this morning, someone asked why we hadn’t yet addressed the ruckus that Gil LeBreton caused with his Monday Star-Telegram column, in which he compared the Canada to Nazi Germany. Um, because we didn’t know about it? Because Zac, the guy who reads Deadspin around here, didn’t tell anyone about it? In any case, here’s the most offensive passage from LeBreton’s column about the Vancouver winter games:

After a spirited torch relay ignited pride in every corner of the country, the Olympic Games began and quickly galvanized the nation.

Flags were everywhere. The country’s national symbol hung from windows and was worn on nearly everyone’s clothing.

Fervent crowds cheered every victory by the host nation.

But enough about the 1936 Berlin Olympics.

Deadspin does a good job of tearing it apart. The Candians have their hackles up. LeBreton has issued a weak apology of the “I’m sorry if you were offended” variety. I have a hard time mustering much outrage over the affair. I do have one question, though: how the cuss did an editor let that get into print? It’s just a horrible analogy.


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  • Me

    The facebook page, “Fire Gil LeBreton for calling Canadians Nazis!” It does a good job documenting S-T attempts to mitigate the situation, including the responses from editors. I guess that paper’s staff is so thin that no one reads the stuff before it goes out.

  • Seven

    Wow. I’m embarrassed for Ft. Worth. And for Texas. And for the US.

  • Long Memory

    In Gil’s defense, every time I see one of those Olympic opening or closing galas I think the only thing that separates them from a Nazi rally is the absence of flaming torches. Then the Olympics lights its own flaming torch!

    So what I’m saying here is that THERE IS NO DEFENSE. I believe that a lot of the people they’ve let go over the last few years would have spoken up to stop that column.

  • Glenn Hunter

    It’s a columnist’s job to get people reading and to provoke discussion, whether you love–or hate–what he/she writes. That’s exactly what Gil did, and I don’t think he has anything to apologize for.

  • Corwin P

    Goodness, Gil’s byline pic makes it look like he’s eaten a Canadian or two. As for the column? Moronic. I didn’t see Marit Bjoergen, Maria Riesch, or Ole Einar Bjoerndalen grace the front page of any US newspapers either. It’s shocking that the media in a given country cater to what their customers or citizens actually care about.

  • GuiltyBystander

    LeBreton is like any average columnist – he twists the facts to support his theme (check out his purple prose on TCU’s football team). S-T has become reactive instead of proactive to this kind of editing stuff. Plus, they want their columnists to be the “stars” and only Galloway qualifies. That means the other columnists try too hard to measure up. LeBreton is a fraud and a number of his fellow S-Ters know it.

  • @Glenn Hunter: Seriously? Really? By your reasoning, if LeBreton wrote a column in which he employed the N-word — which would certainly provoke discussion — he’d deserve a slap on the back. No, I think a columnist’s job is to provoke the right kind of discussion.

  • Glenn Hunter

    @Tim Rogers: Come on, Tim, the N-word comparison’s a total red herring. Gil’s equating Vancouver to the ’36 German Olympics pomp is so “not offensive,” it’s ridiculous. And, I can’t believe your argument comes from a guy who (correctly I think) defended David Feherty’s right to make a “joke” in D about some soldier shooting Nancy Pelosi in an elevator.

  • @Glenn Hunter: Classic misdirection. Solid work.

  • Mike Ramsey

    Looks like they’ve taken another bite at the “apology” apple:

  • North of the 49th

    Canadians love Dallas/Fort-Worth, especially your hockey team (and perhaps to a lesser extent your football team). Too bad about Nash not playing for the Mavs anymore.

    Anyways, the reason Canadians are still antsy over this matter is because of the brush-off faux-apology that Gil gave, which basically fanned the flames. My suspicion is that most offended Canucks aren’t convinced that Gil himself is sorry.

    With that being said, I think the publisher’s quite serious apology today will help extinguish this fire for once and for all – even if we haven’t heard a peep from Gil for a few days now. (and, by the way, I honesty hope he’s doing OK… this episode has probably caused him some serious stress.)

  • “Do-oh”

    Is he just mad because he was charged for three seats on the plane when he went to Vancouver?

  • Dave

    I’m Canadian and I can forgive Gil. Everyone messes up at least once in their lifetime. I know our flagwaving was a bit over the top but we were having a good time. I have to agree with North of the 49th’s comments above. The Cowboys and Stars are loved in Canada. Just come up and watch during playoff time.
    Congrats to the U.S. team for doing so well in the Olympics. Every Canadian was aware of your accomplishments, and your Hockey team has won our admiration and respect. Peace.

  • Bill Marvel

    If we’re going to be using the N — for “Nazi” — word to describe a bunch of Canadians in flannel shirts parading around a sports arena, what in the world word are we going to use when the real thing makes its reappearance? As it, of course, will.
    Such blatant and grotesque abuse of language and of history is never an option, even for a sports columnist. There are people on this forum defending LeBreton who really ought to know better.

  • Ironsides

    It’s not just the Nazi reference, which in fact is an opinion but an odious one. The reason many of us are upset is that the rest of the article is quite simply false or deliberately misleading. An easy example to refute is his comparison of ticket sales to that of Beijing. He wrote: “China sold 6.8 million tickets to its 2008 Summer Olympics. Vancouver only made 1.6 million available. The Canadians wanted to “Own the Podium,” but organizers made sure that they owned the grandstands at each venue as well.”

    Comparing summer olympics to winter olympics is an apples to oranges comparison. The summer olympics have many more events and opportunities to sell tickets as the venues lend themselves to more spectators (stadiums seating 50000 – 60000 vs only 19000 for hockey, no snowy mountains limiting viewers, etc). A better comparison is among winter olympics.

    Facts (Bloomberg): Vancouver used the same distribution system as Salt Lake and made 1.6 million tickets available (also thru the US Olympic committee) and sold 100% of them. Turin made 1 million available (less than 2/3 of what VANOC offered) and ticket sales were “disappointing” with 25% unsold on opening day. Organizers resorted to giving tickets away. Salt Lake made 1.6 available and sold 95%. Form your own opinion about Lebreton’s integrity.

    There are many more such examples in the piece of trash that was published. But one last one. He said Canada treated other athletes like “beer coasters”. Here’s how we treated the American women’s hockey team:

    Thanks, eh?