By: Billy Davis
Black athletes have been severely let down by the media and news outlets when racism has presented itself in sports. For decades black athletes here in the United States and abroad have been subjected to ridicule. This disgusting behavior ranges from being labeled “nappy headed hoes” on a nationally broadcasted radio program to having bananas thrown at them. The “Kick It Out” Organization, which is funded by FIFA and UEFA, is tasked with keeping track of racist incidents in soccer. They reported last year that reports of racist incidents rose from 319 in the 2017-2018 season to 422 incidents in the 2018-2019 season. Unfortunately, the trend seems to be heading the wrong direction.
This is a publicity rights problem because the athlete’s reaction to racists chants is often what’s publicized. The athletes are seen as aggressive when they attack fans, see Ron Artest and Stephen Jackson, or seen as quitters when they leave the field prior to the game ending, see Mario Balotelli. These narratives hurt legacies which in-turn impacts the profitability of said athletes.
For too long the focus has been on how black athletes react and not what they were reacting to. Myles Garret is a football player who was suspended for swinging his helmet and hitting another player. Garrett explained later that he was called a racial slur however there was no further punishment for the other player involved after an investigation. This is all too common in sports, when black athletes react, they get harsher punishments and their explanations fall on deaf ears. Juxtapose that with how players in the MLB and NHL, predominately white leagues, violence is encouraged as a part of the game, the injustice is evident.
When fans act irresponsibly, they are simply banned from a stadium, however players lose their most opportune chance to make a living. This is the problem that should have been solved long ago with harsher penalties for perpetrators and responsible media coverage.