Racism in Sports
Since time immemorial, in the history of football, in the United States, the position of quarterbacks has been predominantly set for the white race at the expense of their black counterparts. There are several reasons which have been put forward to counter this racial move, the most obvious reason being that unlike their black counterparts, the white quarterbacks are always ready and rarely make mistakes. On the other hand, the black quarterbacks are depicted as being gifted in terms of their physicality but lack the mental capacity which is required for the position as a whole (Craighead, Privette, Vallianos, and Byrkit 110-118). The physicality which is possessed by the black quarterbacks is basically more physical in nature than it is the case with their white counterparts, so that they tend not to be dominant in the position as a whole. The main focus of this section of the paper is to establish the perception implicated by the society, which is aimed at investigating the type of stereotyping of black and white quarterbacks by use of selections or rather exclusion in that matter (Allport 57-67).
History has it that there was only a single quarterback who led his team to the Super Bowl. This is awkward since in each of the NFL team, there are about 96 quarterbacks in total for any given football season, and statistics indicates that only eighteen were black. Football is a sport which is closely associated with the black fraternity; thus, the NFL teams always recruit 80% of blacks. Out of this percentage 95% of the quarterback positions are held by whites. It is true to indicate that the treatment of black quarterbacks has been unfair, as African American quarterbacks have had difficult times in the NFL competitions (Allport 78).
It has also been proved to be a fact that most black quarterbacks from high school and colleges all over the country end up being recruited by these NFL teams and then converted to fit other specified positions other than the QB position. For example, when Joe Webb became the first college quarterback to pass more than 2000 yards and in turn ran for over a 1000 yards for two consecutive seasons, and, thus, was termed as one of the ever-consistent QB in those two consecutive seasons, still he was criticized for the inability to handle snaps well under the center’s throw (Allport 79). It was further noted that he was poor in defense and lacked the proficiency needed for throwing. Webb was thereby converted into a receiver for the rest of his career and further went ahead to play Pro Bowl as a receiver. Other black quarterbacks which feature in this list are Michael Vick and JaMarcus Russel, who after becoming the first ever quarterbacks with number one picks were converted into different positions under intense controversy which reflected on their inability to concentrate and defend the attacks made.
It is wise to indicate that the preference of white quarterbacks over black ones is a phenomenon which is attached to race, and it is, in fact, depicted as one which focuses on talent versus intelligence as a whole. It is quite illogical to postulate that since there has never been any other black quarterback who had led his team to Super Bowl, there is the loss of talent of quarterbacks within the black community as a whole (Hoose 34-45). Personally, I do not believe or rather allow to be carried away with the stereotype as I consider Blacks QB to be as much intelligent as their white counterparts in general.
This phenomenon is also based on the stereotype which puts blacks at a much higher level than their white counterparts. It is stipulated that white basketball players do not meet the specific physical abilities which are required for this type of sport. This stereotype is especially reflected in the National Basketball Association, whereby more than three-quarters of the players are black. White men have not only been able to play the game but also have won and excelled solely in the game, which has made one of the most sought-after professional basketball players. In history, there have been white legends in basketball. For instance, Bob Coursey and Jerry West are considered to be not only quality players but also very intelligent and physically fit as well. However, stereotypes, which are defined as rather definite and over generalized notions which people hold towards particular set of groups’ altogether, hinder the objective and unbiased choice of players (Hoose 46).
It is surprisingly unfortunate to find out how racial stereotyping paves through the sports management and performance as well. For instance, when a white basketball player like Larry Bird performs outstandingly and so skillfully, the audience will be caught putting in remarks which are aimed at exaggerating the unexpected performance through the existing notions which stipulate that white basketball players are intelligent and even work harder than their black counterparts in general (Hoose 48).
It has now come to be known that the media does the stereotyping in the sense that the commentator’s are made to postulate that black basketball players are more gifted in terms of masculinity and physical ability than their white counterparts; on the other hand, the white basketball players are perceived to be superior in terms of intelligence and wit and are known to be working ethically better and with more precision than their black counterparts.
However, it is argued that since black basketball players are overrepresented in this game, it definitely implies that they possess a rather superior level of performance. It is, however, illogical that people go well beyond the individual capabilities to infer performance to specific races. It is further argued that most people possess the individuating factor, and, thus, they tend to over-generalize the matter at hand. The ease with which the perceivers have been able to assess the individuating information has, in turn, facilitated the fact that the athletic ability of individual basketball players may at most times override the utility of race, which is used in establishing the rather uncertain performance of basketball players at large. The stereotype that white basketball players lack the physical capability needed in the basketball game is an individuating factor, which enhances the notion that stipulates “white men can’t jump” (Hoose 50).
It is argued that there are numerous forms of attributions which are made to both the in-groups and out-groups, which acts towards bringing about the necessity needed for successful outcomes as a whole. For instance, there is a credit which is put to describe or rather portray successful out-group events to be linked with definite and unstable causes, which in turn predicts the positive stability needed in the black basketball players as opposed to their counterparts on the whole.
At even more distinguished and complex levels, it is further stipulated that the aforementioned phenomenon exists because of the compensatory factor so that the un-athletic and physically weak white basketball players are perceived to be in possession of more skills and knowledge than their black counterparts, who possessed the physical capabilities as a compensation for their lack of skills and task execution.
In baseball, there are great black players who did not have the chance to receive the props they needed because of their color. It is further indicated that these black players are never perceived in the baseball records because the managers fail to recognize their individual talent and skills. For instance, Jackie Robinson was one of the very first few blacks who managed to break barricades and hence received recognition as a true black player, but he was later pulled off from the squad citing his inability to correlate the ball well and score marks. The racism factor is depicted not only in the selection of players but also in coaching. For instance, in the 1980’s, an executive with Los Angeles Dodgers, Al Campanis retorted that the reason as to why there were few or no black managers in the sport was because they lacked the necessities and skills to conduct the players as well as the game. He also indicated that the black players were bred in the slavery trade to become individuals with big thighs and feet, which in turn gave them an upper hand over the white counterparts.
As much as these sentiments from Al Campanis caused a very great stir in the sports fraternity, it was perceived that the Americans never had imagined that there was still the existence of racism in the society, let alone the sports field. Black players who participated in the game of baseball were over-generalized as possessing the natural forms of performers who were born with the advantage of rising within the required skills required within the sports fraternity. There are several explanations which are attributed to this form of phenomenon, and the first is related to the sociological factor. The blacks are perceived to be from the ghetto, where they are constantly fighting poverty and numerous distresses in life, and in turn, they end up to become strong within challenging environments, but they lack the capacity to get themselves out of the situation as a whole.
As much as people perceive sports as a fundamental platform upon which the race factor is supposedly eliminated, unfortunately, the aspect of sports is in itself a clear depiction of the racism phenomenon, which is in itself synchronized within the sports fraternity culture. This facet has led to the fact that black athletes are in turn left to depict the aspect of double consciousness, and thus, bearing a pride for being blacks, while, on the other hand, believing that their success will only be determined by the prevailing white society.
The problem of including the African-American athletes into the baseball games dates back to college, whereby the black college athletes were made to understand that they were just but “super spades,” meaning that they were expected to perform at higher capacities in order to get involvement in the sport as opposed to their white counterparts, who were selected after a simple criterion was established. It is also a known fact that black baseball players were supposed to be perceived as superstars of their respective teams in order to get the much anticipated chance they needed for joining national teams. For instance, Jackie Robinson was perceived to be an outstanding player only when he outshone all other black players in the field of baseball game. He was later perceived to be in possession of anticipated skills which he would use to score points. Were it not for this fact, it is believed that he would not have even received the popularity he had in the game. He was already a superstar before he joined the professional team.
It is a known fact that most of the hockey players are whites, and even though there are blacks who participate in the same, very few of them are appreciated by both the management as well as the fans while conducting the sport. History has it that the white hockey players are hardworking, smart, and intelligent. White players are also perceived to possess the natural capability to lead others while making important decisions and still playing the game. These features give them an advantage over their counterparts, in the sense that the game as a whole is determined by skills rather than the physical ability, which the black athletes are mythically believed to have acquired naturally.
Unlike football and basketball, where speed and masculinity give athletes an upper hand over their rivals, in hockey the selection of players only favors those who depict distinguished characteristics as well as witty skills. The stereotype underlying the white player as having these forms of attributes is a clear pass into the sport on the whole. The black fraternity are thereby left to pack outside, and those who are selected for the game are expected to perform exceptionally well during their college times: they need to be superstars for them to earn a position in the game.
A research conducted indicated that the society as whole is clouded by the race criterion of placing as well as associating players to certain types of games while attributing to them the qualities of exceptional performers in the other games. Since there are no straight ways for which to subject justice for this forms of placements and judgments, the sports management boards are advised to term this criterion as basically a form of vice which downplays the ethics of morality in the area of sports as a whole. There are basically two theories which have been put forward to expound on this form of phenomenon altogether. These “two ways of thinking,” as they are commonly put, are deontology and the theory associated with consequentialism (Biemat and Manis 4).
Deontology as a theory in itself puts more emphasis on the fact that the consequences of meticulous forms of actions are not in any way related to the decision whether the aforementioned action is morally right or not. It further stipulates that the moral worth of an action depends entirely on the characteristic trait of the action in itself. On the other hand, the consequentialists believe that the determinant of whether an action is morally right or not lies with the resultant consequences which are attributed to these actions as a whole. This facet, therefore, implies that the only way which can be used to place judgments on actions is determined as the only element which is to be considered as being perpetual and not the action or morality of the matter as a whole. These two theories have always been used to provide reasons for this form of unethical behavior especially in sports. They help in understanding the fact that both sociological and academic pursuits do not have an upper hand in the real world phenomenon; in fact, they are made vulnerable and, thus, diminish with time (Biemat and Manis 3).
There is yet another theory which explains the existence of racism in sports. The theory of utilitarianialism depicts the fact that something considered morally right is basically judged by the entire principal of utility; in the sense that evil is never given the chance to prevail since there is maximization of the positive amounts of goods altogether, so that the happiness which is to be experienced by the majority takes the precedence over the rest. In sports, this theory is taken to mean that the management will do all it takes to satisfy the utility of both the fans and the general society as a whole (Biemat and Manis 2-5). This then means that the selection of the players based on their specific colors is in one way or another determined by the overall impact it will have on those supporting the game in most cases financially: fans. If a selection of a white Quarterback over a black one will maximize the utility derived from these fans, then the selection panel will not hesitate to come up with ways through which they can do that and satisfy the crowd.
All in all, I do not think that these facets of categorizing players over others are in any way tactical or helpful to the teams in that matter. It is pretty clear that people possess almost the same qualities which they need for survival, and it will be quite illogical to discriminate players based on their color at the expense of others. It is very common to find out that whites are as skilled as their black counterparts in basketball, while the vice versa is true in sports such as baseball and football. It will, therefore, be wise for teams to select players, not because of their color but because those certain players are competent and possess the skills which are required in order to bring about the growth and development of the games as a whole. Sports should not be a platform for racial inequality, but it should rather be a platform where all races can freely intertwine to bring about the coherence everybody needs in this world.