• [In] a recent survey of 116 U.S. cities, there was an average of 42 tanning salons per city. This means that tanning salons are more prevalent than Starbuck’s or McDonald’s.

    Paige Goedde
  • Males today have become much too obsessed with maintaining a masculine image in order to be constantly climbing higher on the social ladder

    Sarah Pierce
  • If the TV industry really wants to give these teens hope, they need to portray gay teens as they are—uncertainty and all. 

    Ashley Davidson
  • If we were all to just put down our devices for a short while and pull our eyes away from our phones and television screens, we might save some lives, treat everyone a little nicer, pay attention to the things that really matter, and succeed more in schoolwork and in life.

    Jillian Leedy
  • Pro-life supporters believe those who are pro-choice think that fetuses are not human, while pro-choice supporters actually think that fetuses are not human beings, a distinction that clearly needs to be made and clarified. 

    Todd Testerman

The End to Racism and Discrimination on the Playing Field

By Tim Noe

Racism is part of almost every aspect of our lives.  Whether it is on the news or through personal experience, we see racism all around us.  It seems like we have simply accepted racism as part of our lives. It does not look like people really want to put forth the effort that will change it once and for all.  However, there is one aspect of almost every American’s life where racism could be eliminated easily while still making a huge impact on the overall fight.  This aspect is professional sports.

Sports are unarguably an integral part of our society today.  Millions tune in every day to follow their hometown team or one of their favorite players, games are allotted primetime spots on the most popular networks, sports news can be seen all over the regular nightly news, many colleges around the country are better known for their sports than their academics, and the list goes on. The one problem with sports being as popular as they are in our society is that basically everyone is always watching.  No action, especially in the negative sense, goes unnoticed in sports.  When there are incidents of racism or discrimination against players, it is big news and the whole country sees it.

Recently, there have been a multitude of incidents of racism and discrimination in the professional sports world.  The most controversial of these incidents came not in an American sport but rather in European soccer, which many Americans (including myself) love to watch.  As a fan of Chelsea I honestly despise Manchester United, but even I can admit that the actions of Luis Suarez of Liverpool were unacceptable.  He racially abused Patrice Evra of Manchester United during a match between the two teams in October.  Suarez was given an eight game suspension as well as a fine for his actions.  Although leagues and even countries have tried to eliminate racism in sports, their efforts have come up short.  One lawmaker even said, “people have started to ask about institutional racism and, you know, whether or not the sort of improvements that we’d all hoped have happened over the past 20 years are actually embedded.”  People are noticing the racism and discrimination that is going on in the sports they love to watch; however, these high-profile acts are a bigger problem than some may think because of the impact sports have on people, especially kids.

Although leagues and even countries have tried to eliminate racism in sports, their efforts have come up short. 

Growing up, kids have role models that they look up to for things such as how to act.  Kids in America also love to watch sports, so they will naturally have role models who are professional athletes.  When a kid sees his/her role model in sports committing an act of racism or discriminating against another race he/she will think it is something that is acceptable.  Children do not know any better than to follow the actions of what they see other people doing.  This is a major reason why discrimination against other races is still as prevalent as it is today.  Once racism is ingrained in a person’s brain, it is a challenge for them to remove it.  If we were to eliminate the racism and discrimination in professional sports, we would be taking away the opportunity for young people to see these things as acceptable.  Once it is eliminated in one generation, I would hope it would continue to be a nonfactor in the generations thereafter.

An example of sports fans seeing racism as acceptable is the recent incident with Joel Ward.  Ward scored the game-winning goal in overtime of Game 7 of the Stanley Cup series between his team, the Washington Capitals, and the Boston Bruins.  Almost immediately after the goal, a barrage of racist tweets directed at him surfaced on Twitter.  Ward did not seem fazed by the tweets and responded, “I think it is just kids.  It has no effect on me whatsoever."  The problem is that the people sending these tweets are just kids.  They are kids that have it in their mind that saying racist things or discriminating against a different race of people is all right.  Tolerance, or lack of punishment depending on the situation, of racism in professional sports has lead directly to these attitudes.

Discrimination is not only seen on the field but off the field in management as well.  There has been a history of minority coaches not having a chance at jobs because of their race.  The NFL implemented a rule named The Rooney Rule in which teams have to interview at least one minority coach when there is a job opening available. Former NFL coach Tony Dungy had this to say about the rule: “I would hope we're at the point where the Rooney Rule is not necessary.”  He is right.  Why should we have to have a rule in place that forces teams to interview minority coaches? The simple answer is that we should not.  However, the discrimination against minority races in the NFL has become so bad that the rule is necessary.  In fact, prior to the rule only 6% of coaches in the NFL were African-Americans. The Rooney Rule is a large step backward for the fight against racism and discrimination in our society.  The statistic above shows that the rule is necessary, but we as a society should be past the time where there have to be rules in place to give minorities an equal chance at a job.  It reflects poorly on our society because it shows that we have not progressed nearly as far as we would like to think. Rules to prevent discrimination in America should be extinct by now and we should instead be looking at racism and discrimination through our rear view mirror.         

The only way the racism and discrimination in sports is going to end is if there are severe punishments for these actions.  A message needs to be sent in every sport that racism is not acceptable and discrimination will not be tolerated.  If a player racially abuses another player, he needs to be suspended for the year and fined heavily.  If an organization discriminates against another race during its interview process, they need to be severely reprimanded with punishments such as hefty fines, post season bans, and even firings.  Once the message is sent that discriminatory actions are not acceptable in our society, the long-lived aspect of racism in sports will be eliminated. In turn, these acts will begin to fade in America as a whole.  We will be able to live in a society that can honestly say it is winning the fight against racism and discrimination.

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