Some left-wing outlets and even a national sports columnist accused Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, R., of racism for his remarks this week about basketball players, while his defenders said the outcry was absurd.

DeSantis was asked about his love of baseball in a recent interview, which he praised as a “meritocratic” game where people of different sizes and skill levels can perform well at various positions, contrasting it with basketball.

“I think that there’s kind of a place for everybody in a baseball team if you’re willing to work hard, if you’re willing to practice… I kind of thought it was always a very democratic game, a very meritocratic game,” he told CBN.

“Whereas I kind of viewed basketball as like ‘these guys are just freaks of nature.’ They’re just incredible athletes. In baseball, you know, you have some guys that might not necessarily be the best athletes, but maybe they’ve got you know that slider that nobody can hit, or they have the skills that allow them to compete at the highest level.”

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The remarks by DeSantis, who played baseball at Yale, went viral and lit a fire in liberal media, who saw a racist dog whistle against the NBA and its predominantly Black players.

USA Today columnist Mike Freeman declared DeSantis guilty of pushing “racist tropes” and an “attempt to appeal to the worst instincts of some of his followers.” He assumed DeSantis meant Black basketball players didn’t work hard.

“DeSantis was essentially talking about two leagues, and how the mostly Black one, the NBA, is full of freaky athletes with fast-twitch muscles and apparently not as democratic or meritocratic or whatever-cratic as baseball players,” Freeman fumed. “Then, according to DeSantis, there’s baseball, or the MLB, the mostly white sport, full of OK athletes but gosh darn, do they work hard, and form democracies and meritocratic-ocracies-republics. They’re not freaks at all. They’re real Americans.”

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He went on to call the GOP presidential hopeful “one of the most prominent anti-Black politicians alive.” A Sports Illustrated site aggregated Freeman’s column and declared DeSantis had been “crushed” for his comments.

In the left-wing site The Root, a writer focused on DeSantis’ “freaks of nature” statement as a “disgustingly racist trope.”

“DeSantis decided to obviously disparage the mostly Black league by relying on a disgustingly racist trope; it’s one that has been around for centuries and reduces the value of Black people to their bodies. However, the GOP has relished in being the party of white supremacy so the Florida governor’s latest remarks check out,” reporter Candace McDuffie wrote.

Ron DeSantis in Israel

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. (AP/Maya Alleruzzo)

“This is racism. For those who want me to soften it up, this is very clearly coded racial bias,” tweeted Wayne Black, assistant professor of Sports Administration at the University of Cincinnati.

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Some conservatives saw a reach at best with the uproar, however.

The average height of an NBA player is nearly 6-feet-7-inches tall, nearly a foot taller than the average height of a typical American man. Major League Baseball players, on the other hand, average about 6-feet-1-inch tall, according to data from The Baseball Cube.

OutKick’s Bobby Burack chuckled at the eruption on DeSantis in a new column criticizing Freeman’s take in USA Today.

“Freeman embodies the problematic nature of an outlet deploying a writer only to screech about racism. There is not enough racism to screech over, forcing tools like Freeman to manufacture examples,” Burack wrote. “DeSantis is correct in that basketball is a game of athleticism. Baseball is less so. Turn on both the NBA and MLB, no one can dispute that claim… Freeman only sees color. He views every story and comments through a racial lens. Race permeates every thought he publicizes.”

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The DeSantis campaign didn’t reply to a request for comment.

Fox News and OutKick share common ownership.

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