The Reality of Racism in Sports


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Austin Bross Melissa Fore 11 03 11 The Reality of Racism in Sports There are many people who would argue that racism no longer exists in professional sports They would argue as such because every sport seems to have numerous people of all color and ethnicity and even sports where there are very few white people such as basketball But racism exists everywhere in the United States today Even though there is now an African American man as the President of the United States does not mean that racism and prejudice does not exist The following paper examines how racism has existed and still does exist in professional sports As most people know many individuals were denied the right to play professional sports in the history of the nation because of their ethnicity The most obvious ethnic group that was denied this right were African Americans In relationship to professional sports they were segregated and had their own teams and played their own venues Anderson 2009 One could well argue that the African Americans did not play professional sports because those teams were designated to white people Two of the most famous and powerful athletes in history were Jesse Owens and Jackie Robinson Jesse Owens took the track and field world by storm at the 1936 Berlin Olympic games Charles 2007 What makes his story interesting is that the United States all but used him to prove to Adolf Hitler that African Americans could beat Germans as Hitler was determined to demonstrate how perfect the Germans were at the time But although he won against the Germans and proved racism wrong he was still to face racism and prejudice in the United States and also segregation which meant he could not eat sleep or essentially live where white people were In relationship to Jackie Robinson he was an infamous baseball player In 1947 Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier of the first major sport in the United States Robinson s impact was immediate and many claim that he truly was the first to be a real sports figure in a white society although he likely faced a lot of racism and prejudice Charles 2007 He was put into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1962 Charles 2007 Since then many people have worked to bridge the racial issues associated with professional sports But another author indicates how it is incredibly disheartening to realize how much race is an issue in baseball today despite the fact that Robinson accomplished a lot Bucholtz 2007 And in looking at sports in general one could well argue that Tiger Woods himself is a first in the professional field of golf and his success has only come recently indicating that African Americans are still experiencing various levels of racism in professional sports In looking at conditions today the remainder of the paper will present various news stories about racism in professional sports In one article it is noted how Donovan McNabb a quarterback in the NFL claimed that there is still racism and that African American athletes are essentially given a different standard to live up to and they are judged more harshly than white quarterbacks Bucholtz 2007 Another author indicates how No story stands out more than McNabb s in relationship to racism in the NFL today Karner 2008 McNabb claims that the African Americans are made to work harder to become professionals and that African Americans have a hard time getting the position of quarterback because of this Bucholtz 2007 In looking at another article the author points out the racism that affects American Indians Many sports teams professional and otherwise have long used Native American images and names in a very condescending and thus racist manner The American Indian community work to remind people of consciousness of the use of the symbols resemblance to other historic racist images of the past Teters 2009 The author illustrates how images such as Chief wahoo is as wrong and racially discriminating as black sambo or as offensive as frito bandito to the Latino people Teters 2009 Another author in addressing such racism in sports indicates that calling a team redskins is as offensive as if a team were called the niggers and society would clearly not stand for that reality Comissiong 2009 This is something very different than the racism most people envision in the field of professional sports but it is clearly a very important reality that most people do not even recognize illustrating how subtle and subversive racism can be in the world of professional sports Another author focuses on racism in professional sports by first discussing Barry Bonds Barry Bonds is a man who at the time of the article was believed to have the potential to beat the record held by Babe Ruth a white professional baseball player from the past Apparently many people including the media were seemingly attacking Bonds attempting to see him as wrong in relationship to possible steroid use and other conditions It seems that many were arguing that if Bonds was white and Ruth white this would not be a problem but Bonds was receiving a great deal of racist mail which indicates no one wanted him to be able to beat Ruth s record Taylor 2006 America hasn t had a white hope since the retirement of NBA star Larry Bird and once Bonds passes Ruth there s nothing that will make Ruth unique and they re scared Taylor 2006 There is also a problem with racism on an international level as well it would seem Jackson 2009 indicates that There is a common theme of race and racism woven through professional sports at the international level says Dubois who cites Europe s practice of luring African and South American players with big salaries as one example of sports reflecting larger patterns of global inequality In essence people organizations are seeking out good players playing the race game of focusing on one s ethnicity rather than their skill even going so far as to import people because of their race It is noted that people from this perspective that the racism is based on stereotypes such as the fact that people think African people black people can play sports better jump higher and run faster than white people This is a reverse sort of racism but racism nonetheless There is clearly still racism in professional sports today Just because a lot of people may not talk about it does not mean that it does not exist In fact some argue that because people deny there is racism is proof there is racism otherwise why would someone argue that it did not exist There is clearly a great deal of racism although often subtle in society in general and the field of professional sports is just one institution of the society thus an institution that is bound to have racism and prejudice It is clearly not what it once was in the days of segregation but it clearly still exists BIBLIOGRAPHY Anderson Susan June 2009 Race has major role in NBA sports history The Loop 21 Retrieved 2 October 2009 from http www theloop21 com blogs african americanbasketball teams Bucholtz Andrew September 2007 Racism is still alive and kicking in sport Sideline The Journal Queen s University Retrieved 2 October 2009 from http www queensjournal ca story 2007 09 21 sports racism still alive and kickingsport Charles Joshua February 2007 Defeating racism with sports Retrieved 2 October 2009 from http media www wccvoice com media storage paper1168 news 2007 02 12 Sports Defe ating Racism With Sports 2746186 shtml Comissiong Solomon May 2009 Professional Athletics Corporate Media and Racism Black Agenda Report Retrieved 2 October 2009 from http www blackagendareport com q content professional athletics corporate mediaand racism Jackson Camille September 2009 Racism and Sports A Global View Retrieved 2 October 2009 from http news duke edu 2009 09 race sports print ht Karner Jarrett June 2008 Squashing Stereotypes Racism in Sports Bleacher Report Retrieved 2 October 2009 from http bleacherreport com articles 26819 squashingstereotypes racism in sports part one Taylor McCamy April 2006 RACISM in Professional SPORTS Why is Sports in Denial Should DU Care Democratic Underground Retrieved 2 October 2009 from http www democraticunderground com discuss duboard php az view all address 364x863512 Teters Charlene American Indians are People not Mascots The National Coalition on Racism in Sports and Media Retrieved 2 October 2009 from http www aimovement org ncrsm index html

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