How to Confront Racism in Sport
Very basically, racism is the unfair treatment or hatred or individuals of a certain race and it can be found almost anywhere – including in relation to sport. Some sports, such as football, unfortunately have a long history with racism though any sport, even something as sedate as golf, can become embroiled in racism if those associated with it, whether players or spectators, show racist attitudes or actions. Thankfully racism in sport has become less frequent, but it can still be present and it is up to everyone to help make it go away for good.
Racism ExplainedRacism can be practiced at an individual level, such as when private citizens make comments or stereotypes concerning others, or at an organisational level, such as if policies are implemented to discriminate against others. These actions and attitudes may be taken in order to benefit one race, or simply because one race is thought to be inferior to others. In the United Kingdom, the Race Relations Act 1976 (with all of its amendments and extensions) protects individuals from being discriminated against in employment on the grounds of colour, race, nationality, religious beliefs or ethnicity. This is true of discrimination whether it is done on purpose or not as well as whether it is direct, indirect, harassment and/or victimisation.
Racism and SportRacism has long haunted popular sports such as football, but it can also occur on any pitch, course, track or arena. This can be especially true of sports such as golf or tennis in which racial minorities have a shorter professional history. However, there is never any excuse for racist actions or chants pertaining to a particular sport and to say that racism only comes about when racial minorities become involved in a sport places the blame on the players rather than on those who actually perpetrate racism.
Confronting Racism in SportThere have been many news stories in recent years regarding initiatives to eradicate racism in sport as well as official investigations into racist incidents involving players and fans. For example, the Show Racism the Red Card campaign is an anti-racist charity that tries to use professional footballers as role models to fight racism. However, not all efforts to confront racism in sport make the news. Every time one spectator reports the racist chanting of another, every time one player tells another that racist attitudes aren’t cool, and every time that players and spectators come together to congratulate the achievements of others regardless of their race, racism is confronted in sport. However, no one should confront others about racism if they feel physically vulnerable or unsafe. Instead, observations should be made and a report can be filed at a later date. While reporting racism is important, staying safe and secure until such a report can be made is imperative.
Confronting racism in sport is important so that each player and spectator can enjoy a fair and equal experience. Understanding racism, knowing how it pertains to sport and confronting examples of racism are all important to eventually ending racism in sport.