In chapter 9 Zirin looks to argue the statement that the sports world is the least racist sector in society today. But, do we really believe this to be true or are we just saying that and using the fact the sport sector is a multi billion dollar sector benefiting off a majority of minorities to mask the statement. I would like to take the time to go into greater detail on the subject with the focus being on the NBA (National Basketball Associaition.
Basketball is the sought out sport in the urban culture which results in a higher participation rate amongst African Americans. This is very evident in the NBA where 86% of the players are African American. But, just like other African American dominated sport leagues such as the NFL (National Football League) there is very few African American’s who hold a front office position and a high position at that. In the NBA there is only one team that is not owned by a Caucasion and that is the Charlotte Bobcats, which happens to be owned by basketball great Michael Jordan. In the chapter David Stern makes it clear to see where the mentality of many may be as to why there is few African Americans in the front office. David Stern stated that African Americans were not knowledgable enough to understand the financial aspects of being a owner. This statement came with a direct target to Dwayne Wade who took offence to the fact that David Stern pointed his finger in his direction when making the statement.
Even though the NBA is dominated by African Americans they are still treated as minorities. But, what about the actual minorities of the league. The chapter goes on to talk about a very talented basketball player in my eye, Jeremy Lin. Here we have a player who does not by any means necessary fit the cultural norms of basketball. He is a asian male who graduated with honours from Harvard, one of the most prestigious schools in the world. If that alone does not say starting from the bottom, he was undrafted. Now Lin has made a name way beyond expectations by making into the history books for most points in a NBA history in just his first five starts (Zirin, 2013). But was this incredible accomplishment the talk? No! The media and others focused on the fact that here is this Asian actually “Chink in Armour” as ESPN said coming to the rescue. They couldn’t believe it they slammed him with jokes and even compared him to Tim Tebow (I find that disrespectful in its self). They did not focus on the fact that here is this individual that beat all the odds and became one of the best players in NBA history.
Now let’s go back to the question, is the sport sector the least racist sector in society? In my opinion I believe it is as equally racist as other sectors or even more. The fact is within the sport sector the racisim is broadcasted and deemed socially acceptable because it sports. The racisim is backed by cultural stereotypes – such as white man can’t jump, black people can’t skate or are afraid of the cold – which in some way belittles the seriousness of the matter at hand. Will racisim continue to be an issue in sports? Yes it will as long as the sector continues to look at certain things as not normal, it’s not normal for an asian to be exceptionally good at basketball, it’s not normal for an African American to have the mental capacity to own a team and it’s not normal for a Caucasion to have a 40inch vertical (5’11 Jacob Tucker look him up). When the sport sector can look pass the “normal” and see that we live in an age where anything possible, then we probably might see some changes in regards to racism.
Zirin, D. (2013). Game over how politics has turned the sports world upside down. (pp. 163-183). New York: The New Press.