Black History Month: How Racism Still Lives In Sports

Racism is a term that covers multiple different aspects of life, but one we fail to pay much attention to is athletics. Although that may sound ridiculous due to the majority in sports being African-Americans, it’s a fact. Decades ago and in many cases, more than 100 years ago racism was a way of life, but now, it’s not that simple. However, it’s still alive and well in athletics. A great example of modern day racism in sports would be represented by the Donald Sterling situation.

All this was the norm once upon a time. Sports were segregated and there was an unfortunate understanding of what black athletes could and couldn’t do. They typically played in the minor leagues despite their talent or had inferior facilities compared to whites. Honestly, though, those were privileges; sometimes blacks weren’t even allowed to play.

If you haven’t already, study up on the Jackie Robinson story, or simply watch the movie “42.” Throughout his career, but especially in the beginning, he faced many death threats, including some from his teammates and more. 40 years before Venus and Serena Williams, there was Althea Gibson, a black woman who despite winning multiple championships, was denied hotel rooms or a seat at many restaurants.

Things are easier now as they should be, but racism has revamped itself in a new form.Memphis Grizzlies v San Antonio Spurs - Game One

I support them and give them food, and clothes, and cars, and houses. Who gives it to them? Does someone else give it to them? Do I know that I have– Who makes the game? Do I make the game? Or do they make the game? Are there 30 owners, that create the league?

That is just a small, but summarizing section of former Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling’s rant to his girlfriend, that associated with black people, which infuriated Sterling. She simply asked him “isn’t your whole team black?” and that was his response.

Although this controversy happened three years ago, you can’t help but notice how the slave-owner mindset is still alive and well today. Black men still make money for white men by doing physical labor. That’s the brutally honest truth. The only difference now is that they are getting paid a lot of money to do it. But still, they have to answer to the owner who can dispose of them as he pleases. Let’s get this straight: I’m not in any way saying all owners in professional sports have this mindset and I’m also not saying this format should change because that would do away with professional sports. I’m just shining a light on how a significant portion of our country still perceives African-Americans.

Many people in our society that we see and interact with every day still have this mindset, that’s the brutally honest truth. Athletically speaking, things have gotten better and will continue to get better in time, but yes, a form of racism as well as a form of slavery is still alive and well in American athletics, despite the strides we’ve made in other areas of life, proving our worth more and more every day.

About the author

Founder & Editor-in-Chief. National Association of Black Journalists. University of Central Oklahoma.

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