Racism in Sport (Critical Response Blog)

In chapter 9 of Dave Zirin’s “Game Over”, he discusses the racial barriers and other hurdles that still exist in professional sports today. Zirin went into detail about how sport is considered one of the least racist sectors in today’s society. Zirin was interested in determining why people feel this way and if in fact sports should be considered less racist than society as a whole. Many people think that it is crazy that serious racism is occurring in professional sport to this day, but the fact is that it happens every day and lot of the time it is unintentional.

Zirin looks an unintentional example of racism in sport through a situation that occurred between NBA Commissioner David Stern and Miami Heat Superstar Dwyane Wade. During labour negotiations Stern was seen getting extremely upset at frustrated with Wade and began repeatedly pointing his finger at Wade, which led to a response from Wade saying “You’re not pointing your finger at me, I’m not your child.” This was seen as a form of racism by Stern as he is a white male who is the face of a professional sport organization mainly dominated by African-Americans. This situation was blown completely out of proportion in the media and both Stern and Wade had made it clear that they didn’t believe any of what was said and done was meant to be racist.

Zirin then focused on NBA player Jeremy Lin who was subjugated too much more deliberate examples of racism. Jeremy Lin took the NBA by storm in February of 2012 when he was playing for the New York Knicks leading to his play being called “Linsanity”.  Lin was different than many new players making their debut in the NBA as he was the first Taiwanese-American player to play in the NBA. Lin was able to become an instant star due to his miraculous play, however with all that fame came a lot of hate from NBA fans. Lin began to be called the “chink in the chain,” and had one sports anchor state “I thought Asians couldn’t drive.”  It was almost hard to believe that Lin’s amazing on-court play was being overshadowed in the media by all the negative response he was receiving from people just because he was a different race than what was usually accustomed to in the NBA and society as a whole.

I personally feel that it almost impossible to completely remove racism from sport but sport is definitely moving in the right direction compared to other mainstream sectors. I can look at the example of hockey where around 10 years ago there were almost no African-American players in the NHL and many African Americans didn’t play the game of hockey at all. Now in today’s sport world there are superstars such as PK Subban who are proving that any race can play hockey at a high level and him and others are provided role models for younger kids in a minority to play sports that may not necessarily be accustomed to them. While I believe that there will always be racist people and fans out there, the sport society as whole is one that believes as long as you have the talent to play at the highest level it doesn’t matter what race/gender or sexuality you are.

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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One Response to Racism in Sport (Critical Response Blog)

  1. Even though racism has gotten significantly better over the years thanks to individuals like Jackie Robinson who have change the way Black people are treated in sports, it’s still not completely eliminated. From a former youth athlete myself, racism is still a way that kids use to make fun of other individuals to try and build self esteem and have an edge over someone else. The problem with racism is that it’s one of the hardest things to prevent from going on in sport. Three out of the four major North American professional sport leagues being National Football League (NFL), Major League Baseball (MLB), and National Basketball Association (NBA), do have significant amount of black athletes already, but it’s great to the continual rise in black athletes in the National Hockey League, as we continue to try and create piece among racism around the world.

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