Love or hate Dale Hansen, the blustery but knowledgeable sports anchor for WFAA/Channel 8, there’s one thing that’s certain about him: His occasional “Dale Hansen Unplugged” commentaries get attention.
This was most notable in February 2014, when a commentary —about the NFL’s reaction in particular and the public reaction in general to the announcement by Missouri defensive end and draft prospect Michael Sam that he is gay and wants to play football professionally — went viral and earned him an appearance on Ellen DeGeneres’ afternoon talk show.
Now another Hansen “Unplugged” segment is starting to take off on social media. It might not have the reach of the Michael Sam commentary, but never underestimate Hansen’s potential for getting people to talk.
The commentary, “Signs of Change,” is a video essay about tolerance that takes off from an incident last week at a Flower Mound vs. East Plano basketball game in which Flower Mound students were seen holding up cards that said “White Power.”
That incident itself was all over social media; according to Hansen, parents said it was a mistake (there were five signs, and the wrong two got held up at the wrong time), but Hansen doesn’t let parents or other defenders off the hook. “Too many parents (and apparently others who care) tried to defend what you can not defend,” Hansen said.
Nor did he let Flower Mound off the hook, recalling a more personal encounter: “When my granddaughter, who went to Lewisville High, would be at a game in Flower Mound, she and her friends would hear the chant ‘Welfare babies, do you know who your daddy is? Because we know ours.’ "
But he didn’t let himself off the hook, either. Hansen talked about his father, who used the N-word frequently, applying it to famous athletes and just about any black people he didn’t know — and in the small Iowa town where Hansen grew up, there was only one black family in the county. Hansen’s father loved that family, but used the slur to refer to any other African-Americans.
“The one black family he knew were good people,” Hansen said. “The others he didn't know? They were the bad people. The ignorance in that reasoning, if you think about it long enough, will twist your mind.”
He continued: “And it twisted mine.”
Hansen said that kids have to be taught to hate, and called the adults in their lives responsible for that. But he also said that they can overcome their ignorance, the way he did.
“That ignorance will be replaced someday by the wisdom they learn when they live in the real world; when they meet the people who don't look like them, didn't grow up the way they did,” Hansen said. “They will change. Not all of them; it never is. But they will change. I did, a long time ago. They can, too. But not if we try to defend what you can not defend.”
WFAA posted the video on its Facebook page; shortly before noon on Tuesday, it had received nearly 7,000 “likes” and had been shared on Facebook close to 2,400 times, and both numbers were increasing rapidly. Watch it here.