Squashing Stereotypes: Racism in Sports, Part One

Jarrett KarnerCorrespondent IJune 2, 2008

(Before I begin, I want it to be known that I have entered this article knowing what could be ahead of me. I am a white male and I have been invited to write about minorities in sports. I plan on being unbiased with my writing and in no way want anyone to feel offended by my words.)

Racism has haunted America for generations. In fact, racism seems like it has evolved with the times. From problems in the Middle East, to securing the borders of the United States, racism is alive and well today.

There may be no other type of racism that is more publicized than racism in sports. Sports are a staple in the United States. Sports could quite possibly be the one thing more Americans have in common than anything else. But why in this day and age is racism in sports more abundant than ever?

In my opinion, racism in sports may not be quite as abundant as we think. Although I do not deny racism exists in sports today, there could be a major factor that creates this illusion to millions of Americans ever day of our lives.

Nothing has become more bias and more "evil" than the American media. Since when did it become more important to report that Alex Rodriguez was spotted having dinner with a strange woman than it is to give us his stats and his performance in the very thing that made him famous?

Take a step back and think for one second. What made America care more about Britney's shaved head or Angelina's pregnant stomach? The media. Media coverage has become focused on negative and uncivil acts more now than it ever has. You can easily open your local sports page and find your daily dose of scores and stats, but somewhere else in there you will find a scandal or a report on something an athlete did wrong. It's the way our society has gone.

But where does racism fit in? Let's first touch on the NFL. No story stands out more when it comes to racism in the NFL than Donovan McNabb's comments regarding a black quarterback vs. a white quarterback.

McNabb expressed his distaste for the fact a black quarterback is examined in more depth and under a less forgiving microscope. But let's go to cold hard facts first.

In 2007, McNabb threw 473 passes and completed 291 of them giving him a completion percentage of 61.5 percent. Tom Brady attempted 578 passes and completed 398 of them for 68.9 percent.

On raw facts here, Brady attempted roughly 100 more passes and completed roughly all of them. Tom Brady also made it to the Super Bowl this season while the Eagles were the only NFC East team to miss the playoffs. Could this be the result of racism? I'd put money on it that racism had nothing to do with it.

But maybe McNabb hit on something. Maybe there is fine print we aren't reading. Maybe we aren't thinking outside the box. In fact, it is scientifically proven you learn your morals and values growing up as a child.

Let's take a moment to name a few athletes who were recently in trouble with the law in the NFL. Adam Jones and Tank Johnson just to name a few. What do these two have in common? I bet most of you reading this thought black. Although this is a common point, let's do some research here. Don't judge until you have scratched the surface.

Adam "Pacman" Jones grew up in Atlanta, Georgia. His father was shot and killed when he was just four years old. He grew up in a lower-class neighborhood and was surrounded by drugs and danger.

Tank Johnson grew up in Gary, Indiana. According to Wikipedia, Gary is known for "large steel mills, high crime-rate, and liberal political leaning." His father moved him to Arizona when he was six-years old.

Can we now see other things they may have in common? Raised by one parent most of their lives and growing up in a lower class, high-crime neighborhood?

Maybe this isn't such a racial thing after all.

Maybe these two used sports to get them out of their life and into a more fulfilling one. There is a saying that "you can take a man out of the city but can't take the city out of a man". Perhaps simple psychology could shed more light on the world of sports than racism ever could. Perhaps this is a human thing, and not a black-white thing. Perhaps the world of sports is to blame for the amount of problems we have today with the professional athletes


Part II will cover Sports and Colleges and their role in the racial feud.