Sports is often described as the ultimate meritocracy. A place where all of the social strata that governed common life off the field falls away between the lines. But as anyone can tell you today, politics and prejudice aren’t so easily extracted from men and women as they don the colors of their respective teams.
Interracial animosity amid sports rivalries have spawned some of the most disgusting racial incidents imaginable, but you’re a slap-dash fool if you imagine this to be some back-in-the-day phenomenon.
At this point, racist behavior at sporting events is a static part of world culture.
From the hallowed World Cup tradition down through the humble confines of an American Tiny Tikes football team. However, racism has always existed within the brotherhood of the locker room as well. We want to believe that the love of a game would be the ultimate anti-virus against racism, xenophobia, Islamaphobia or homophobia among individuals with a common goal in mind, winning championship.
We’ve seen examples of racism in sports at the high school level before. Two years ago we wrote about the issue of racism in high school sports, referencing incidents such as a Black wrestling dummy being hung and racist tweets being sent out after losing to an opponent.
Unfortunately, playing a game just isn’t enough to eradicate deep-seated beliefs that they, their grandparents, and their grandparent’s grandparents have been teaching them for generations.
Back in April, then-Villanova Wildcats guard Dante DiVincenzo was called to the carpet for his usage of the colloquial version of the n-word that has been used in black cultural narratives centuries before famed comedian Red Foxx took appeared in the cult classic All the Fine Young Cannibals in 1960.
Since then black entertainers for the free use of the word have continually butted heads with the more conservative thinking elements of influence in the black community; church officials, old guard civil rights activists and other puritanicals.
Indeed, it has always been the great African American gift and curse to transform that American excreta into gold.
From rock and roll born from an electric guitar and a busted amp to turntables terrors forming hip-hop in a South Bronx 70s sonic soliloquy that made the dark ghettos the place to be, from scraps deemed not suitable white consumption, came the first examples of American cuisine.
However, counter to the beliefs of some, simply coming into contact with black people isn’t a cure for being reared in a racially insensitive environment, thus being more likely to act upon said upbringing than the average Joe.
While Divencinzo’s Twitter accident was the recitation of a rap lyric, thus easier to explain within the context of black cultural influence, but Hader’s comments from when he was a teen illustrate white cultural influence on how the word is used.
All of the in-between semantics are only cloud the matter.
Have you ever Googled the terms “racism” and “high school sports”? Well, if you ever wanted to lose faith in humanity a few degrees more than you may have already, then a brief survey of the year’s most reported high school sports stories may change your view.
It doesn’t and has never mattered whether black people use the n-word, but that usage of it by white folks has always been to immediately marginalize a black person and place the user in a place of superiority, even if only in their own minds.
As of late, the immediate inclination in sports is to forgive perpetrators for the socially insensitive statements of childhood that resurface when he or she was an adult. “They were just a kid” is what supporters like to say.
Meanwhile, Trayvon Martin was a kid, Tamir Rice was a kid and Nina Wilson was a kid. Childhood has never shielded a black person from the effects of any kind of racism: interpersonal, institutional or otherwise. Thus, one would think white folks, adults or otherwise, shouldn’t be automatically forgiven for their transgressions, let alone given a standing ovation a la Josh Hader’s first game back in Milwaukee.
On Tuesday it was announced that Michigan State would allow disgraced former starter Jon Reschke back on the team after being away from the game for a year, but his since revealed text regarding a former black teammate’s morals is despicable and is truly indicative of a way of thinking rather than a singular incident of forgotten decorum.
Honestly dont know who for sure but probably (teammates name redacted) or another s****y f*****g (N-word) with no morals, Reschke wrote in an undated text message obtained via screenshot by the Free Press.
The text listed Reschkes phone number as the sender and had the responses scribbled out. An anonymous former MSU teammate confirmed it to the Detroit Free Press. The incident was reportedly over a female acquaintance of Reschkes.
When the n-word is used here, it’s clearly to demean a black person and relegate he or she to uselessness. This is the part that most people are refusing to make a distinction for. Yes, intent, perspective and sincere reform all matter.
But seldom is it ever the case that a person raised in an environment where such abhorrent thoughts are acceptable can magically deprogram, un-raise and render him or herself immune their own cultural upbringing.
But second chances are another one of the qualities of sports that Americans love. It gives us all a chance to cheer for the redeemed and reformed. Black athletes benefit from this phenomenon just as much as white players, but oftentimes the second chance for Black athletes is tinged with racist reactions and feelings that remain simmering and waiting to erupt throughout their comeback.
For the most part, off the field incidents that Black athletes find themselves engaged in fall short of consciously or subconsciously committing teammates or opponents to second-class citizens that are unworthy of human dignity and respect, which is exactly what racism and all its vestiges and tentacles are meant to do.