The Perception of the Black Athlete

Anyone that knows me can guess that I am an avid sports fan. There has always been a love/hate relationship with the Black Athlete and how they are perceived. Even before Jackie Robinson and up until now with Lebron James. Is there a double standard in pro sports?? Hell Yeah!! No doubt! But ultimately it depends who you ask. You ask African-American sports fans we say yes. You ask a white sports fans you may get mixed reviews. For instance, I saw a list of the top ten most disliked athletes in professional sports. Names like Michael Vick,Lebron James, Chad Ochocinco,Terell Owens, Floyd Mayweather, and Tiger Woods made the list. I don’t need to tell you what they all have in common. Yes I know that some of the names I have mentioned have one point or another have fallen short in terms of personal responsibility. But coming from a segment of the population where the benefit of a doubt is not given in the same way, you can see where an African-American male like myself can see right through some of this garbage. To show how rampant this thinking is I am going to provide one example for each of major sports league (NBA, NHL, NFL, MLB). And yes even hockey.

NHL- P.K. Subban, a hockey player for the NHL’s Montreal Canadiens is known being “brash” and “flashy”. We have heard those words applied negatively to black athletes haven’t we? One NHL critic even said that Subban plays the game like he plays in another “sport.” Interesting

NBA- Lebron James. Enough has been said about this guy. Even though he puts his foot in his mouth sometimes some of the criticism he has received has a tinge of racism to it. I believe that there are enough reasons to dislike him without throwing race into it.

NFL- Current and former players like Brett Farve and Carson Palmer seem to do no wrong for the most part while players like Donovan McNabb get dragged threw the mud. Palmer told the Bengalis that he wasn’t going to play the 2011 season since the team wound not trade him. If that was McNabb or Ochocinco they would not have gotten the benefit of a doubt like Palmer got. They would have called them selfish and greedy.

MLB- Yes Barry Bonds isn’t a people person but when you hear the media is still saying things about this guy even though he’s no longer playing is kind of strange. The media even took away an MVP award from him because he didn’t have a good relationship with them.

As sports fan who thinks critically, I try to call it as I see it. It is not fair how some are given a benefit of a doubt while some are condemned and forever placed in a box. Like anyone else, the athletes I mentioned want to be judged on their merits. Nothing else.


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