Tackling Racism In Sports Media
After Cam Newton's NFL debut as a Carolina Panther against the Miami Dolphins last week, the mainstream sports media machine was already casting doubts on the young man's ability to be his team's starting quarterback. The Boston Herald ran a headline proclaiming Newton "struggles in his first start," while the Detroit Free Press declared he was "shaky in first start for Panthers." The amount of scrutiny heaped on Newton since winning the Heisman Trophy and guiding the Auburn Tigers to a national championship last year got me fuming.
It's a despicable example of how white sports reporters and pundits engage in racism by building up super star African American athletes and tearing them down. Consider the consistent negative coverage heaped on Tiger Woods. Up until his marital problems were exposed, Tiger was a sports media darling. Writers and radio hosts all over the country were in love with Tiger. But as soon as his infidelities were publicized, he's become a national pariah.
Earlier this month, blow hards like Bill Plaschke reveled in Tiger losing the PGA Championship in Atlanta. In his Los Angeles Times column Plaschke bragged how Tiger's fall is the best thing to happen to golf since Woods was taking the green by storm. The same thing happened to Lebron James, who will be vilified for the rest of his career because he left Cleveland for Miami. That young man has been unfairly torn apart by sports writers and talking heads.
Yet these are the same sports writers who gave Eli Manning a pass when he acted like a primadonna before he was drafted. Manning was hardly criticized when he made a big stink about going to the New York Giants instead of the San Diego Chargers. These are the same reporters who praise John Daly even though he embarrassed the game of golf by playing drunk on the green. These are the same white dudes who put pill popping sexual harrasser Brett Favre on a pedestal.
The racism has been taking place for more than a century. Babe Ruth was a known womanizing raging alcoholic, but he was always revered. Yet a guy like Gary Sheffield gets crucified for being honest about Barry Bonds' steroid use.
I think the problem exists because sports news outlets are dominated by white faces. For every black sports columnist like Michael Wilbon or Stephen A. Smith you have ten white guys like Bill Simmons, who don't understand or can empathsize with the life experiences of African American athletes. Even Wilbon and Smith have to engage in publicly bashing black athletes. If either guy sticks up for a Lebron James or a Tiger Woods, they would be considered to black for mainstream sports coverage.
It's unfair and it needs to stop.
Follow Luke on Twitter at: @unclelukereal1.
Follow Miami New Times on Facebook and Twitter @MiamiNewTimes.