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.