Pro Sports Unchained (Critical Response)

In chapter 9 of Dave Zirin’s Game Over, he discusses the racial barriers and hurdles that still exist in professional sports to this day.  Even though it seems outrageous to think that racism is still happening in today’s sports world, it is still very prevalent even though must of the time it is unintentional.  The purpose of this study was to determine why people feel this way and if their feelings are justified.

Zirin focuses on the National Basketball Association (NBA) due to the fact that basketball has become synonymous with African-American culture.  Zirin focuses on a specific situation that occurred between former NBA Commisioner David Stern and Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade during the labour negotiations.  During the heated negotiations, David Stern was upset and repeatedly pointing his finger at Wade, to which Wade responded “You’re not pointing you finger at me, I’m not your child.”  Even though David Stern is the commissioner of the professional sports league that has hired the most minorities in history, the situation was blown out of proportion and it raised tensions even further.  Stern surely did not mean it in a racial manner, but people automatically assumed the worst because here we had a rich white man treating a young black man with disrespect and that clearly indicates racism.

Zirin also focuses on the international phenomena that was (for about 15 minutes) Jeremy Lin.  While he was playing like a man possessed, it was something else about Jeremy Lin that made him so attractive to NBA fans.  Like a select few before him, Lin was able to break that superficial mold that seems to govern most professional athletes.  But unlike those before him, Lin was different and in fact he was so different that he was the first Taiwanese-American player to play in the NBA.  Lin was able to become an instant star but with all that fame came a lot of hate, from being called the “chink in the chain,” to have a sports anchor state “I thought Asians couldn’t drive.”  At certain points it was hard to believe that Lin’s on-court play was being overshadowed by all the negative backlash he was receiving from people but it comes from people not being to accept something that is unfamiliar to them.

These racist occurrences seem to be either indirect and misunderstood like in the case of David Stern and Dwyane Wade, or deliberate and mean like in the case of Jeremy Lin.  People will always react towards things they do not understand even if it means undoing hundreds of years of progress made by civil rights leaders.  It is safe to assume that racism will never fully disappear from professional sport and it is our duty as fans and as good people to help ease the tension and provide a welcoming environment for any athlete regardless of the colour of their skin.

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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2 Responses to Pro Sports Unchained (Critical Response)

  1. ra10kw says:

    This issue of racism is indeed a frightening one. It is so easy to step over the line, and so hard to control without proper activism. I chose to blog about the same reading; maybe advocating for a more respectful environment within the walls of sport can have an impact outside of them, and not waiting for a racist trigger to take action.

  2. mt10xn says:

    The Jeremy Lin case is interesting, although Jeremy does receive negative racist connotations about him, he is also getting a more cushioned ride through the NBA due to his ethnicity. Because he is the only Taiwanese-American player to play in the NBA, he has attracted a whole new chuck of fans from asia to the NBA. David stern will always allow Lin to at least have a second or third string role on a team even if there are other capable players.

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