Comm 102KEREM MERAL Spring 200720050383 Valerie A. Tas? ran Second Draft Racism in Sports In the modernized and global world of today, it is necessary for people to get rid of their prejudices and learn to respect differences. Racism should be eliminated from all areas of life, including sports. Sport is meant that bring people from different backgrounds together to compete in equal conditions and provide interactions among them. No matter which country and ethnicity an athlete is from, once they are in an international competition, all should have equal rights. The only factor should be their skills and success.
However, there are many cases when sportsmen or sportswomen face prejudices because of their ethnicity. There are even times when opportunities for them to choose their profession and become successful are limited because of their race. Although it is hard to prove acts of racism in sports, athletes show their reaction by letting authorities know about it, or talking to the press about the discrimination they face. The aim of sports should be providing equal opportunities for everyone and a peaceful atmosphere where people cooperate and compete at the same time.
It should not give unequal rights and opportunities to a group because of their race while disregarding and discriminating another group. In this paper, the aim is to examine the issue of racism in sports and prove that it is in damaging levels for sportsmen that face it. First, historical facts and general information will be given about the effects of discrimination in sports. Then, cases of racism in sports will be analyzed by related examples. Finally, it will be concluded that authorities are not successful in eliminating racism in sports and this damages careers of athletes and players who face it.
Some of the people who make racist movements are sport fans. Club owners see them as a source of income. If they punish these fans they will earn less money then before. Because of that they are afraid of punishing them. The sport players and athletes, who face to racism in the sport areas, lost their interest to sport. Some of them cannot carry this pressure and had to retire earlier. Racism has always been a controversial issue throughout the history. Many arguments have been made on the issue of racism and sport. Jarvie & Reid (1997) focus in their article on the area of sport and racism.
They claim that the “European intellectual constructions of racism have often been applied in a devastating manner in the field of sport” (Jarvie & Reid, 1997, p. 211). In the other words, racism that emerged in Europe is started to appear in the sport fields, too. So, the historical developments on discrimination have also affected sports. Jarvie & Reid (1997) further claim that discussions on racism lead to numerous racist beliefs about sporting skills of people. The early studies on racism between 1920s and 1960s in America paid attention to discrimination against black people.
In South Africa, during 1948, apartheid had emerged. During the time, sport was seen as: “functionally supportive of and integral to a multi-racial South African society in which a plurality of groups competed within the framework of apartheid” (Jarvie & Reid, 1997, p. 213). South Africa at that time had to be unfair, racist and ideological at the time because of the external pressures. This ideology regulated involvement in sport. It claimed that although sport has a kind of independence, it included “racial segregation and racial discrimination” (Jarvie & Reid, 1997, p. 213).
Writers in South Africa at that time believed that the racism in sports could be eliminated by external pressures. In 1960s and 1970s other efforts were made to explain race and race relations. One was the work of John Rex, who claimed that race relations caused different groups to be located in social stratification. For example, because of discrimination, blacks were put at the bottom of society. The demonstrations of American athletes in 1968, called “Black Power” were a reaction to this. The athletes believed that they were not given the treatment they deserved although they were very successful in Olympics.
They said that they were being used and race relations were very bad. (Jarvie & Reid, 1997)When racism was present in society, it was also seen in sports and protests occurred as a result. Jarvie ( 1991 ) claims that the non-racial sport movement in Africa, the Olympic Project for Human Rights, and other protests are examples of the attempts to prevent racism in sports. Finally, it is concluded that during the last century, many efforts were done in order to explain racism and race relations in sports. Racism in sport is in high levels and it results in disadvantage and a barrier for he group of people being subject to it. They are not given the same opportunities of involving in advertisements or occupying important managerial positions in sports. Let’s now introduce some evident cases of racism in sports from real life stories. First, as Lipman (1988) suggests, there is a lot of racism going on in sports marketing. When an advertiser wants to use an athlete in a commercial, first they will go to a white athlete. They are afraid of losing some consumers, because some consumers can show a negative reaction when they see a black athlete on a commercial of their supporting brand.
Even if they are not completely racist, it doesn’t even cross their minds to choose a black athlete. They instinctively go to a white athlete. However, marketers and sports agent refuse to accept that they are being racist and Michael Goldberg -New York’s National Media Group, the sports-marketing firm that represents gymnast Mary Lou Retton- says that “to blame an athlete’s lack of endorsement success on race discrimination” is not right. (Lipman, 1988, p. 1) On the other hand, it is also true that some very successful and famous black athletes are not offered any role in advertisements.
Although 8 of 12 best ranked athletes in US are black, only one black athlete; Michael Jordan was ranked in highest paid endorsers in Sports Marketing Newsletter. (Lipman, 1988) . This example shows that although not done clearly, there is a prejudice in sports advertisers to choose white athletes and ignore blacks. In most of the commercials white athletes take role instead of black athletes. Commercials owners prefer the white athletes. Another real life example on the discrimination in sports is given by Rainbow Forum on Race, Racism in Sports Media (1996).
In the forum, it was said that although black athletes are dominant in the sport area, their numbers have declined in managerial and coaching positions in sports since 1980’s. For example, it was noted that there were few Blacks in managerial positions in the media. There were only 10 Black sports columnists in all the 1600 newspapers. Also, although NBA is 80 % black, NFL 67 % and Major League Baseball is 37% Black or Latino; about 80% of working population in offices in these leagues are white (1996). This shows that whites have an advantage over blacks or Latinos over occupying important positions in sports.
Both examples show that because of racism in sports, some groups which are discriminated have a hard time in occupying positions in management or finding the same endorsement opportunities as whites. There are also some cases when racism in sports is so strong that it forces people to change their occupation. As Obley (2006) explain, the story of Oliver Purnell is a good real life example of how racism can affect the careers of sports players. Obley (2006) claims that “racism in America forced Purnell down another road” (p. 1).
Purnell emphasizes that his aim was to play baseball which was almost his favorite sport, but he wasn’t allowed to play baseball in Little League during the 70’s because of the racial movements against him. Because of this, he started playing basketball and was very successful at it, and after some experiences as player, he took the position of coach. He became the first African-American head coach hired by Clemson at team Old Dominion. However, although he turned out to be successful in another area, his actual goal was to play baseball. Obley, 2006) As a result, because of racism in sports, he had to change his area and missed the chance of become a successful baseball player which was his initial purpose. But luckily, he showed his talents in another area, which is basketball. There may also be cases when talented people miss the chance of being recognized because of their races. Thyrone Willingham, a football coach at Stanford emphasized this by saying: in our country, not just in athletics, there is a great deal of talent we let go unnoticed. You see alent not being derived, not being noticed, not showing what it can do. There are a lot of people who could be doing the job I am doing, given the opportunity” (as cited in Shrophire, 1996, p. 20) So, it is seen that racism in sports can have important effects on the careers of sports players, Many talented people subject to racism might not be able to show their talents and become a successful sportsman or woman. There are a lot of talented people who couldn’t arrive to the success. It is not so easy that a talent arises suddenly and discovers it.
Because of that people have to give more importance to these talented people and try to protect them from the racial rages. Although many athletes and other sports players often complain about events of racism, the authorities are not successful in taking action and eliminating discrimination. For example, as Carrington and McDonald (2001) explain, during the National Village Cricket Championship quarter-final in 1996, an Asian team sent an official complaint saying they were racially abused by members of the Caldy team from the Wirral.
Although the Cricketer magazine, which “organized the competition, reprimanded the Wirral team for ‘sledging’ but took no action on the racial abuse” (Carrington & McDonald, 2001, p. 54) Because of this, black and Asian cricketers believe that authorities don’t take racism serious and try to prevent it. The cricketing authorities failed to punish clubs and players which are guilty of racist actions. This way, they actually legitimize such acts. (Carrington & McDonald, 2001). Also, sometimes authorities fail to realize and accept that there is racism.
Unable to even accept its existence, they cannot take any action against it. As Dimeo and Finn (2001) explain, despite of clear evidence, there is a continuous rejection of racism in Scottish football. There is a belief that “racism is no problem here and racism is foreign to Scotland” (p. 29). Lipman (1988) also explain that sports agents and marketers fail to accept that institutionalized racism exist in advertising. So, in such cases, being unable even to accept the fact of racism, authorities may not take any action towards it.
Finally, it is seen that authorities are not successful in attempting to eliminate discrimination from sports and there are a lot more steps to be taken. In the end, it has been shown that there are not always equal opportunities provided for people from different races in sports. There is an important degree of discrimination going on which has negative effects on athletes and other people engaged in areas of sports. Most of the time, this discrimination is recognized, but cannot be proved directly, because these racial movements mostly take place by oral way.
Authorities cannot find any printed proof. Because of this discrimination, many talented people are being put in hard conditions for their career. Some of them had to retire earlier, some of them are moving around the country to find an area in which racism doesn’t appear. It has been shown that authorities were not able to take action to eliminate racism in sports. They should be more effective in punishing discriminatory acts in sports. To conclude, sports should aim to bring people from different ethnicities together in an environment which is free of biases, prejudices, and acts of racism. I