Chapter 9 of Dave Zirin’s book “Game Over” goes over some of the racial barriers that are in professional sports today. Many view that racism in sport is something that happened in the 40s when Jackie Robinson broke into Major League Baseball, however it is still around today. There are two forms of racism which are intentional and unintentional.
In most cases, the forms for racism are unintentional. Usually a marketing staff of a team gets over excited about a star calibre player being of a different ethnic variety where they try too hard to capitalize on this. An example of this would be as Zirin said Jeremy Lin. When he broke out with the New York Knicks, there was a media frenzy surrounding him (Linsanity). He was one of the first Asian-Americans to do well in the NBA and there was hope that he could start a trend while building a new market for the league. Unfortunately, sometimes this was taken too far as an example of over doing the Asian aspect was putting a fortune cookie on the jumbotron at Madison Square Garden when Jeremy Lin made a basket. Those are just ploys that took things too far.
There is also a great cultural divide in the NBA between their players and owners. Many players did not grow up with means that they have now, thus there is a view that they don’t understand it. The stereotype would be the old school white owners telling the players how to spend or control their money. A situation like this came up during the lockout of 2012, where Dwayne Wade called out David Stern, telling him not to point his finger at him and that he isn’t his child. I don’t think Mr. Stern meant it that way when talking to Dwayne Wade. Stern was probably thinking that he’s been in this business longer than he has so he better listen to me. However, the cultural aspect of the situation did not make Wade see it that way.
An example of intentional racism that is still around today, and even accepted is in the National Hockey League. No, I’m not talking about people of colour playing in the game but in nationality. There is still a view point throughout the NHL and its fans that players outside of Canada (or North America), do not have the same amount of heart as players from Europe and Asia. This is a common misconception that is constantly said by the media and fans. After failed deals with someone like Nikolai Zherdev, there was a thought process around the Columbus Blue Jackets that they would avoid drafting Russians at all cost. Teams avoid drafting Russians period because they believe they don’t want to play in the NHL, they just want the most money they can get.
While it is likely impossible to get rid of racism completely in sports. There are major improvements that can be made in order to make it a more civilized industry.
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.