Zirin Explores Racism in Sport (Critical)

I read chapter 9 of Game Over,  where Author Zirin explores the many different racial issues that still exist in sport. Zirin starts by discussing a major racially motivated incident where host Bryant Gumbell of an HBO series described the NBA commissioner as the man who oversees the plantation. The comment by the host was meant to insinuate that the NBA is a league run by white owners, and almost 90% of the players are African American. Zirin does mention that to the commissioner’s defense, Stern has done a lot for the league with regards to hiring African American executives and coaches. Stern himself has said that he has done a lot to help African Americans, and that when he thinks of color, the only thing that he see is green.

Zirin also mentions that racism is more common in the NBA than any other league, because there aren’t any other leagues that attempt to aggressively market to African Americans. The Author Zirin goes into discussion about Asian American player Jeremy Lin who had attracted an incredible amount of hype and attention about his abilities. Many were saying that he shouldn’t’ have this kind of hype and the only reason he is getting it, is because there are very Asian American basketball players. Great hype created a major media spectacle and out came the stereotypes. What’s really great about the racially motivated issues that Lin dealt with, is how well he handled the situations. I think after a certain point, Lin wasn’t really picked on, and the public found it unacceptable to attack such a good guy like him.

Zirin brings up the point that Americans believe racism doesn’t exist in sports as much as it does everyday life. Many Americans believe that sportsmanship and team camaraderie allows for players of different ethnic backgrounds to come together. It’s unfortunate that we need something like sports to see a decrease is racism. We have come so far and yet players are still subjected to racially motivated attacks. If people really do believe that sport helps make a major difference with racism in America, then maybe we are getting somewhere.

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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