It must be Politicize Sports Monday.
Because we are told today that they are “symbols of oppression that reinforce negative stereotypes.” That’s the discouraging word from an Axios report promoted by Mike Allen.
In the Hard Truths Deep Dive series for Axios, Kendall Baker, Sara Kehaulani Goo and Michele Salcedo drilled into the so-called systemic racism in sports. In reporting on their work, Allen writes: “Sports are often sold as the great equalizer. Yet time and again, the sports meritocracy has proven to be a myth.” Sports are not an “escape”; they are a mirror of the “most unjust aspects of society.”
Inside the deep dive report is a quote by Damion Thomas, sports curator at the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture. He said, “We tend to think of sports as being at the forefront of racial progress. But historically, sports have also been symbols of oppression that reinforce negative stereotypes."
“Glaring inequities” along racial lines are found across the sports age spectrum, Allen reports.
For minority youth, sports activities end sooner than those of whites. The costs associated with youth sports and traveling teams are barriers for minorities. Fencing and other so-called “affluent sports” funnel rich white kids to elite universities. Brainiac Asian American children are stereotyped as academic stars.
There is also an important aspect of youth sports ignored by the report: individual decisions on what to play and whether or not to play sports at all.
The investigators aren’t keeping up with recent news, though, because Ivy League schools disproportionately favor African American applicants at the expense of Asian and white Americans. Native American students are “overlooked” for college athletic scholarships, but the dive doesn’t go deep enough to address the problem of family fragmentation of minorities in urban and reservation settings.
At the college level, African American students get most of the basketball and football scholarships. For instance, at LSU one in 11 Black students are receiving full ride scholarships, while the rate for white students is one in 25. The facts are stubborn things for the Axios race baiters, however:
“The popularity of football and basketball disguises the fact that the rest of college sports is made up of predominantly white, middle-class athletes.” (Like Syracuse University’s white basketball player Buddy Boeheim, pictured above.)
Despite this cop-out, it’s the African Americans going on to play professional sports who make millions. The wrestlers, volleyball players, distance runners and swimmers of many races don’t.
Oh, but there are problems aplenty in pro sports, too, Allen explains.
“People of color make up over 75% of NFL players — but only 12.5% of the head coaches and 6.5% of the general managers.” Thirteen percent of the American public is African American, so the head coaching figure is representative. The 75 percent playing figure is disproportionate.
If the above arguments don’t truly mirror racial oppression in sports, there’s another aspect of racism in sports, say the authors of the deep dive:
“It's not just the way sports are structured that can limit people of color and perpetuate stereotypes; it's also the way we talk about those sports.”
And how’s that? Only one supporting point is offered: soccer broadcasters are racially biased.
Though many of the deep dive researchers’ arguments can be refuted, this report appears to be a matter of never minding the facts because their minds are made up about the alleged symbols of racism in sports.