Are There Double Standards When It Comes To Black Athletes?

By Joe Booker
Updated: August 1, 2005

The Black Athlete

HOUSTON — I was watching the Major League Baseball All-Star Game with some friends and I was asked if I thought there were double standards in the way black athletes are treated by some fans and some media?

It was a topic I had not thought about. However, it did start me to thinking about some of the talk-show sports shows and national media on how they deal with black athletes vs. other athletes.

Why is it that most sports TV reporters refer to a black athlete as having a nice smile, but never mention a non-black athlete of having a nice smile? Is it because black athletes should go around smiling all the time?

I never hear those reporters mentioning non-black athletes with a great smile. Those kind of remarks reminds me of the old days when some whites used the phrase,” some of my best friends are colored.”

Why do some announcers that do play-by-play and color often criticize mistakes made by black athletes and make excuses for mistakes made by non-black athletes? Is this a double standard?

The part that is disturbing is when some blacks criticize black athletes only because they have seen or heard blacks criticized by non blacks even though they may not know the facts behind the criticism.

It seems like some blacks don’t feel anything has happen unless it is printed in a non-black publication. The new blacks don’t read black publications. The late black author Carter G. Woodson called it the “Mis-Education of the Negro.”

Sometimes there is a hidden agenda when it comes to criticizing black athletes.

I am not saying that black athletes should not be criticized. All athletes at times deserved to be criticized. I have often criticized black athletes, but I don’t limit my criticism to black athletes. However, my agenda is not the same as some who criticize black athletes.

Not all fans and talk-show hosts come down hard on black athletes. However, there are some that make casual statements about non-black athletes and go over board when criticizing black athletes.

I don’t condone dysfunctional behavior by any athlete. However, I would like to see the media treat dysfunctional behavior of athletes fairly, regardless of race.

Often, when a non- black athlete makes a mistake, excuses are made for the reason the mistakes are made. Black athletes don’t get that same benefit. Kobe Bryant is still criticized by some national media even though the jury ruled

him innocent.

But some of our media and fans will try to give you the impression that they live a perfect life and have never made a mistake. The only mistake Kobe made was committing adultery. Since the jury did not accuse Kobe of rape, what’s the problem? There should be long line of hate if Kobe is hated because he committed adultery. Most Black people know the real reason why some people hate Kobe.

When Lakers coach Phil Jackson wrote a book and harshly criticized Kobe, no one said Jackson was wrong. Had Kobe written a book criticizing Jackson he would have gotten all kinds of criticism. Do we see double standards?

When a white coach is fired and had problems with a black player, the black player is always accused by some media and fans of having the coach fired. When Paul Silas, who had some problems with some of his players, was fired, there never was any talk about a player having Silas fired. If Silas had been white would the media and fans have blamed players?

When the University Oklahoma baseball coach was fired for making racial remarks about black baseball players, none of these same critics called in and criticized the coach for making those remarks. When basketball player Latrell Sprewell made a remark about “having to feed his family,” he was harshly criticized. Do we see double standards?

When Texas Rangers baseball players Frank Francisco and Kenny Rogers were accused of altercations, very little or no criticism was made directly at Francisco and Rogers. Some felt they should be punished by the league, but none of those fans and media directly criticized Francisco and Rogers like they have Barry Bonds.

Who committed the most dysfunctional act Kenny Rogers or Barry Bonds? Rogers never got the criticism that Bonds still gets. Bonds never physically hurt a fan.

I have heard fans call talk shows and say they hate Barry Bonds. Why? What has Barry done to them? Is this a personal vendetta against Bonds just because Bonds happens to be black? I have never heard a fan call a show and say he hates a non-black athlete. Now, are we talking racism? Maybe Barry should smile all the time.

I have never heard those same fans and talk show hosts criticize NASCAR driver Jimmy Johnson or any of those hockey players that alledly deliberately hurt another player or caused a players’ death? We know how violent hockey can get.

Being criticized come with the territory, but for most blacks the playing field is not level.Yes, there are double standards when it comes to criticizing black athletes.