Zirin ch. 9 Racism in Sport

According to this chapter of the text, in 2011 an American poll stated that professional sports was one of the least racist sectors in our society today. Zirin used this chapter to answer two questions. This included why do people feel this way and whether it is true or not.

He first brings up that in 2011, at the end of an episode of HBO’s series Real Sports, the host, Bryant Gumbel, referred to NBA commissioner as a ‘plantation overseer.’ This of course had a number of viewers very upset. The comments he made originated from the fact that in the NBA, all of the team owners are white, except for one (Michael Jordan) and 86% of the players are black, however racial tensions have remained unspoken but tangible. Although Stern has had a few issues with racial tension over the years of being commissioner, he has also has managed the league with the most hirings of people of colour for coaches and executives.

Zirin also states that racism is more common in the NBA than other leagues because no other sport tries so aggressively to market African American players to an overwhelmingly white, middle class ticket buying audience. Zirin also touches upon ‘Linsanity’ which is about Jeremy Lin who was the first NBA player of Chinese/Taiwanese decent. Zirin states that all the Lin hype developed some of the most interesting and awkward discussions of racism in sport.

Boxer Floyd Mayweather was quoted saying that the Jeremy Lin hype was all because he was Asian. African American basketball players do what he does every night and don’t get the same praise. However what Lin had done when these comments were made had never been done by any player, whether they be black, brown or white.

Zirin concludes the chapter by mentioning that perhaps why Americans believe sports to be less racist that the rest of society is because the humble acts of sportsmanship in full view of millions watching. After the final buzzer we’re all equals.

In my opinion, no matter what, there are always going to be racial issues in sport. It is good to see that Americans view sport as a way to avoid racial problems, and maybe we can continue to take steps in ensuring there are no racial problems. However many issues can arise when there are two teams, and tens of thousands of people who go to just watch the game. Issues will arise, but as long as we can control them, people can continue to feel that sports is a way to not worry about racial issues and your team is like family.

Zirin, D. (2013). Game over: How politics has turned the sports world upside down. (pp. 163-183). New York, United States of America: The New Press.

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6 Responses to Zirin ch. 9 Racism in Sport

  1. chase6464 says:

    In my opinion, i feel the way the same way as you with regards to there always being racial issues in sport. We do not live in a perfect world with a perfect society and for that segregation of races will occur. Sports should be considered one of the greatest breakthroughs when it comes to the reduction and elimination of segregation. Although racial events do take place every once in a while regarding the business aspect or even with an on field incident, professional sports has broken through the barriers and proven that no matter what race you may be, if your good enough, you play. Any team in any sport can have a mix of races and it still doesn’t affect their performance or their loyalty to each other as team mates. From a fans standpoint we see sports as a huge breakthrough for segregation as well because our favorite teams that we watch and follow throughout the season have players of different race. If a player of African descent scores a winning touchdown for your team versus a white player, you feel the same excitement and unity towards your team for the simple fact that your team won and not that so and so scored.

    As per the Jeremy Lin incident, i can see how it was made out too be seen as, “the Chinese rookie” who goes on a tear. But, i think it was more so a reaction of excitement from fans in that the first NBA player of Chinese/Taiwanese was able to perform the way he did as a rookie. The same could be said if a white male won the 100m race in the Olympics, or if an African American male beat Michael Phelps in swimming. People aren’t used to it which can create mixed reactions, but it would be more so a positive reaction of surprise in my opinion.

  2. mloschiavo7 says:

    I believe that there will always be racist whether it be in sport or outside of sport. It’s just human nature for some people not to accept others because of their sex, age, cultural or skin colour. We do live in a sad world but it’s reality and it will always be like that. Racism in sport is an interesting topic because sometimes racist can arise simply in the moment or because someone scored a basket or someone gets tripped or unfriendly words are spoken and one person feels attacked or hurt. Whether or not that comment or action was done on purpose or done as a tactic to upset the other player so they would retaliate.. we do not know. But as a former athlete I did notice that racism in sport was always present and some people don’t intent to offend other people. However, a research study on this topic would lead to interesting results.

  3. jpecchia92 says:

    I also agree with the two previous comments although I take a bit of a different side to. Yes some things in the world will never truly vanish, but just because we can’t eliminate racism does not mean we should be content with limited amounts. Sporting leagues and organizations need to go above and beyond by developing effective policies and rules for athletes, fans, owners, commentators, and anyone who chooses to be involved in sport for that matter.

    As for the poll stating professional sport was the least racist, I think that is far too biased and should be taken with a grain of salt. The United States is one country of hundreds in the world that have professional sport. Take for example soccer in European where players from every angle of the globe play in the world’s top leagues. Here there is almost a weekly occurrence of racist activity be it from players against players, fans chanting slurs to players, inappropriate banners, etc. It happens a lot more often than we thing it does. An recent example is a Champions League game this week between CSKA Moscow (Russia) and Manchester City (England) where a player on Manchester City who is from Ivory Coast (Africa) was racially abused because every time he touched the ball fans made monkey chants at him.

    But my standpoint on all of this is that yes, sport is probably the best and most effective way to try and prevent racism from leaving a black mark on the sports we love. Athletes are the best means for this because we idolize and respect them. So we should use this and develop more ways to raise awareness and let people know it doesn’t matter what colour, size, shape of form you are as long as you play!

  4. It’s a very touchy subject, racism in sport. We as a society have come a long way from the traditional views that plagued sport origins when there was a time where you couldn’t turn your head away from any segregation. Society is so vastly different nowadays where yes, it’s tough to be racist. But sometimes, it just happens. I don’t mean that in a neglectful way, I mean that in the way that there is just some people who still believe fully about segregation and the minority below them, whether it be gender based, racial based, anything. Some people you cannot change, but society as a whole has vastly improved.

    As for the Zirin stating Linsanity broke through for the Asians and he was the first? No. Remember the not-so-little guy named Yao Ming? That I definitely disagree with Zirin there. Sorry Zirin, but Lin was not the pioneer. Ming was by a longshot.

  5. rm09gu says:

    Racism in sport is a really interesting and controversial topic and has been for some time now, i think Zirin’s view on the issue shed light on areas that I had not considered. An article that i came across earlier today was very interesting in the continuing battle against racism in sport. Sepp Blatter the president of FIFA has declared that “If we are not able to go zero tolerance, we have failed.” This basic meaning was that there is a zero tolerance for racism and anything short of that is a failure. This is a very big claim as I think most of us would agree and as mentioned earlier eliminating racism from sport is almost impossible, With that said, the only way for change to occur is for people to move in the right direction, in that regards the FIFA president is definitely on the right track. Hopefully, in the near future shifts in the mentality of people will allow for racism to be abolished in sport and in the world.

  6. Pingback: Rasicim Today in Sports, Chapter 9 From Dave Zirin | spma4p91

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