Does the Media Cover White Athletes More Favorably than African-Americans?

Dexter RogersCorrespondent IAugust 10, 2010

Ben Roethlisberger continues to get the royal treatment from the media, NFL, and the Pittsburgh Steelers. Yes he was suspended for six games by Commissioner Roger Goodell for violating the “personal conduct policy” but it will likely be reduced to four.  

I remember on April 12th the district attorney in Milledgeville, Georgia announced Roethlisberger wouldn’t be prosecuted for the alleged sexual assault involving a 20-year-old co-ed March 5th. The case went no further because there wasn’t enough evidence “beyond a reasonable doubt” to move towards a trial.

Last time I checked, I thought that was a jury’s responsibility and not the DA's.

I remember when Tiger Woods wrecked his Cadillac Escalade on Nov. 27th last year, and the details about his infidelity began to leak out. Once things really hit the fan, the media feasted on Woods. Mainstream media was consistently on the prowl.

Several of Woods’ mistresses gave television interviews about his moral wrongdoings. The mainstream media painted Tiger out to be a terrible person. He was prosecuted in the court of public opinion for his transgressions.

How come Roethlisberger didn’t get the same level of coverage for his alleged breaking of the law?

Let’s go back to the summer of 2008, Roethlisberger was accused of sexually assaulting a woman in Lake Tahoe while he was playing in a Pro-Am golf tournament. The case is still open and pending.

Anyone remember that?

Since the mainstream neglects to talk about it, a friendly reminder here won’t hurt.

Tiger wasn’t accused of sexual assault like Roethlisberger. He didn’t invest in a dog-fighting ring like Michael Vick, or shoot himself in the thigh like Plaxico Burress. Woods didn’t break the law. He cheated on his wife. Yes, morally, his behavior is deemed unacceptable. But legally, it’s all good.

Tiger was consistently covered by media giants like David Letterman, Howard Stern, Good Morning America, CNN, and ESPN, to name a few.

Didn’t Letterman cheat on his wife? Didn’t Letterman have a variety of sexual relationships with co-workers? Then he had the audacity to crack jokes about Woods' infidelity. Why wasn’t Letterman cracking consistent jokes about Roethlisberger with a similar level of frequency as he did with Tiger?

This is the consummate example of hypocrisy.

Tiger was urged to speak out. The mainstream demanded some type of explanation from him, and in all fairness, I was one of them. Tiger ended up issuing a scripted 11-minute speech addressing some of the questions the media and others wanted answered.

No such demands were issued for Roethlisberger.

In being consistent, I have demanded explanations and more media coverage on Roethlisberger, just like I did Tiger. Like Tiger, Roethlisberger laid low until he got to training. He issued brief statements about being happy to be back, and all is seemingly good. But when Tiger laid low, he was vilified for not coming forward to speak.


Big Ben stated he wouldn’t talk about what happened in Georgia anymore, and he hasn’t, yet Tiger is still asked about his personal life and his “transgressions.”  If the media wants to continue to ask Tiger about his personal life great, but ask Roethlisberger what happened in that bathroom on March 5th.

What makes Roethlisberger so special that the media requests nothing of him, but expected the world from Tiger Woods?

Mainstream media is mostly comprised of white males. Statistics indicate 94, 88, and 87 percent of the sports editors, columnists and reporters in the country respectively are white males. In essence, white males are covering a world of professional sports, where many of the marquee athletes are African-American. There simply isn’t enough parity in the media to provide balanced coverage.

The latter helps to explain why white athletes like Roethlisberger get more favorable coverage than the likes of Vick, Burress, and Woods.

A level of consistency must be administered when covering all athletes. When turmoil visited Tiger, it was written and talked about consistently. I have no issues with the latter whatsoever. But the same should hold true for Roethlisberger.

What’s good for the goose is good for the gander.

We all know once you factor in the media composition, celebrity, race, and money, the rules of the game for covering African-American athlete differ from the coverage the likes of Roethlisberger receives.

Agree or disagree?

Watch my recent appearance on CNN about Ben Roethlisberger!