Friday, August 31, 2012

Does Racism Really Exist In Sports?

It is the go to subject in sports.  When you want to start an instant debate just bring up race.  The race issue has come up once again.  Do sports fans see color?  Yes they do.  Jets fans see green, Giants fans blue.  Flyers fans see the black and orange when they scream for big goals and Lakers fans see purple and gold when kobe goes up for the game winning shot. We don't, however, see skin color.

Never once in my life have I heard anybody say they did not like a certain player because they were black, white, yellow, green or red.  We as fans just want a player to be great.  We aren't mad at Alex Rodriguez because he is Dominican, we're mad because of how he acts and that he has not come through in the clutch.  We did not despise Barry Bonds because he was a black man, we did because he was a jerk to everyone he met.  Jeremy Lin became a phenominom in a sports that you can name maybe two Asians before him, yet we embraced the greatness with open arms. 

Why is this?  Why does a man who could be a racist still root for a man of the color he is pregidous too?  This is because, for most of us, sports conquers all.  We grow up watching a team and the name on the jersey is always more important than the man who is wearing it.  There may have been a time in the past where racism was predominant in sports, but that has come and gone.  We aren't those same people that we were in the sixties.  

I am not too naive to think that racism doesn't exist anywhere.  You still have racism at workplaces, in schools, in politics, and even in families.  Sports aren't weighed by the same things though.  Sports are weighed by stats and intangibles.  If you are fast and can catch we love you, whether you're Wes Welker or Roddy White.  If you have a great three point shot we get ready to cheer every time you make a shot, whether it is Kyle Korver or Ray Allen.  A homerun makes us go nuts whether David Ortiz or Mike Trout is doing the homerun trot.   

This issue will never go away.  Sports journalists will continue to ask if an issue involving race is pundant.  It is the go to topic when there is nothing else to talk about.  Andrew Luck did not get taken first overall because he was white, he did because he was more pro ready than RGIII.  We weren't mad at Mike Vick because he was an African American, we were mad because he WAS KILLING INNOCENT DOGS.  Sadly, these were two real issues that I heard get brought up this week alone. 

Now, there are two things in sports that can be mistaken for racism, stereotyping and mirroring.  We do stereotype players when things go wrong.  It is not right in the least bit.  We aren't mad at Plaxico for shooting himself, but we aren't surprised either.  This is not fair to other players of similar race.  I don't think RGIII ever even held a gun, he always looks like the happiest guy in the world.  Also, when we see a white player in the NBA or a black player in the NHL, the fans are drawn to them.  They are faces in the crowd.  This isn't racism, it is more a feeling of a person who beat odds.  We love the underdog story. 

If anything, sports is the one thing that brings us all together.  If you sit next to someone of a different race at a baseball game, you will high five when you get a big strikeout.  At a hockey game, you're going to hug him/her when you score in over time.  At the bar, you will talk trash side by side to the oposing team's fans.  Sports is colorless.  The colors on the jersey we are wearing is the only colors we need to see.

A note to all sports journalists out there, racism in sports had ended.  I love Derek Jeter, who is both white and black.  Every other Yankees fan in the world loves him too.  I love Robinson Cano, Adam Henrique, Albert Pujols, and Carmelo Anthony.  I love my teams.  I love every shape size and color of all of them.

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