Discrimination And Racism In Sports
Webster’s dictionary defines discrimination as a social, economical, political or
legal distinction made between individuals or groups such that one has the power to treat
the other unfavorably. Discrimination can also be defined as the act or policy of treating someone differently, setting them apart or denying them rights because they are different from the majority. Discrimination may be based on the grounds of one or more of the differences of nationality, religion, politics, culture, class, sex, age and colour. Discrimination of colour is known as racism. Discrimination and racism are present in all societies worldwide. Discrimination exists in different capabilities such as school, work, and in the home. Much of the hate is expressed through the media as well. In sports, discrimination against those of colour, homosexuals, and women will always be an ever-lasting presence. Sports have always been an arena for criticism, hatred and discrimination of certain groups or individuals. In actuality, racism and other forms of discrimination, within the microcosm of sport, will forever be a reality.
The fight against racism goes back into the years past slavery. During that time, it was mainly white people versus black people. Today, in this multicultural society there are many minority groups feeling the squeeze of being born “non-white”. Along with the racism come the stereotypes. For example, the notion that black athletes are the most talented at basketball, because they can all jump very high, or that males are better then females (in sports), and the assumption that females in sports are not feminine. It is wrong to make such generalizations. However there is a little that can be done to change this frame of mind symbolic of society as a whole. The argument that black people are the best basketball players is very strong for many reasons. The first argument being that, almost 80% of the athletes in the National Basketball Association are of African-American descent. Arguably the greatest player in the history of the game, Michael Jordan, is a black person. If an athlete from a minority group can excel in a sport he/she is recognized for his/her skill as much as his/her skin colour. The media plays a big role in the issue as the influencing body of how society must think. Since the release of the 1992 film, White Men Can’t Jump, there has always been the hype and jokes made about a white person’s inferiority in terms if skill and talent compared o that of a black person. In the movie, Wesley Snipes, a black athlete, says to Woody Harrelson, a white athlete having trouble completing a slam dunk, “White men can’t jump!” The catch phrase has never died out. People will always segregate athletes by their skin colour on the basis of their skills. There are always individuals trying to gain recognition for their talents rather then race. For example, people always refer to Tiger Woods as a “black golfer” or “the greatest black golfer”. A passage from TIGER WOODS: The making of a Champion, clearly illiterates this statement. “ But he resists being typecast as a racial pioneer. ‘I don’t want to be the best black golfer on the tour, ‘ Tiger says. ‘ I want to be the best golfer on the tour.”(Pg 8) There are clear examples of white athletes making racial remarks in pro golf. Golfer, Fuzzy Zoeller made a stereotypical wise crack about Tiger Woods saying that Tiger should go home and eat fried chicken and collared greens after the young golf prodigy played a phenomenal round of golf back in 1998. This remark was senseless and unnecessary. It sparked controversy leaving bad taste in the mouths of many. No athlete deserves a preferred treatment on the basis of skin colour. The infamous John Rocker, In a Sports Illustrated interview, he made some very disturbing comments about various minority groups and New Yorkers. On the city specifically, Rocker had this to say:
“The biggest thin I don’t like about New York are the foreigners. Im not a very nig fan of foreigners. You can walk an entire block in Times Square and not hear anybody speaking English. Asians and Koreans and Vietnamese and Indians and Russians and