Race and SportsFifty seven years ago today (November 30, 1952) Jackie Robinson charged the New York Yankees with racism. Does color/race still matter in sports? Does it depend on the sport? Does it...

Race and Sports

Fifty seven years ago today (November 30, 1952) Jackie Robinson charged the New York Yankees with racism. Does color/race still matter in sports? Does it depend on the sport? Does it depend on the position? Or is the playing field/court the only real "neutral ground" among races in America. I must admit, I am much more conscious of "team" than players now.

What do you think?



Expert Answers
pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

If we're talking about sports in the US, I would say that racism doesn't really exist in terms of player-player relations or the way the games play out on the field or court.

Answer 3 is right in that racism is more likely to show up when franchises or schools go to select coaches, GMs, etc.

I think race still matters in a few ways, though:

  1. It affects what sports athletes choose to play.  White athletes believe they are less likely to be able to succeed in basketball or in the "speed" positions of football.  African Americans see few role models in baseball and do not play that game as much as they used to.
  2. Some positions are still overwhelmingly populated by one race or the other.  The number of white quarterbacks is quite high compared to the number of whites at other positions, for example.
  3. Finally, race plays in to public perceptions of athletes.  This is especialy true of basketball.  This is why the NBA is always so worried about its image and institutes rules like the dress code for players.
booksnmore eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I can't say that I've noticed issues with race in sports, but I'm also very aware of the fact that as a "white, non-Hispanic" (that's the box I always have to check on forms!) I'm sometimes unaware of racism that's staring me directly in the face. I don't believe we've reached the point that society is truly "colorblind" and worry that it's sometimes easy to fool myself into thinking that things are better than they really are.

I actually have a related prejudice that concerns me, however...that of intersex people in sports. The story this fall about S. African runner, Caster Semenya, reeked of unfairness. I do wonder if we'll look back on that in 40 years and wonder how we could have been so narrow minded??

ask996 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Wow. What an intriguing question. I'm not sure that racism exists in the competition itself. It seems that there is great diversity in the athletes playing in the prominent college sports, and it seems as if there is diversity in the races of those finding success in the prominent college sports. The trend seems to continue with regard to players who are drafted from college into professional sports franchises as well.

If there are discrepencies I would predict that they exist more in the coaching, management, and ownership of the professional franchises.

By the way--what about gender equity? That would be an interesting topic.

readerofbooks eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Race probably matter less than before, but I would say it would be wrong to say that race does not matter. I would make this argument, because there are economic issues that are relevant as well as invisible social ones. Let me explain what I mean.

First, there are some sports that require more money and special equipment. This will rule out many poorer minorities. For example, it costs a lot to buy hockey equipment or a fancy bike for racing.

Second, there are invisible social forces. All sports are money making businesses. This fact alone has implications. How you market things, who you favor, how much you pay, etc.

bullgatortail eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I don't believe the amount of racism in sports is any different than what we see in the outside world. It exists everywhere in some form. In sports, the best athletes usually make it into the starting lineups and onto the playing fields. Intelligence, strength, speed and determination are the key factors in today's sports--not color.

lrwilliams eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I would say that racism in sports has diminished. Like a couple of other posters have mentioned the playing field seems to have leveled, however the management positions are more likely to be held by whites. I also agree that economics also play a part in some sports. however this is not just a race issue but a class issue.

pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Here's an interesting Sports Illustrated article about white running backs:


This goes to what I was saying before about people of a given race being pushed toward or away from certain sports and/or positions.

enotechris eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Color / Race may still matter in sports, but not for reasons people may think.  Excellent article on the costs of segregation in baseball, and why all baseball teams eventually hired nonwhite talent:


johnmiltonwesley | Student

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