We’re all aware that members of the media have their biases. The idea that our “trusted” sources are unbiased and simply reporting the news has long been a laughable thought.
That bias — once confined to political reporters — has now permeated the world of sports media as well.
Just days after the United States men’s soccer team beat Mexico in the CONCACAF Nations league final — and were pelted with debris from the crowd for their efforts — that bias is on display once more.
All month, the interactions between fans and players have been all over the news. Russell Westbrook of the Washington Wizards had popcorn dumped on his head in Philadelphia, Kyrie Irving of the Brooklyn Nets had a bottle thrown at him in Boston, and — disgustingly — Trae Young of the Atlanta Hawks had a New York Knicks fan attempt to spit on him at Madison Square Garden.
The media spent countless hours breaking down the footage of each incident, lambasting the fans and lamenting the state of modern sports fandom — going so far as to question if racial biases could have played a role in the fan harassment.
The USMNT were treated even more poorly in Denver, Colorado, on Sunday by fans of the Mexican national team. Everything from full coke bottles to beer cans were thrown at the American players — with one facing an injury after being hit in the head — and play had to be stopped late in the match due to a homophobic chant from the Team Mexico fans echoing throughout the stadium.
While both situations — the NBA fan altercations and the USMNT fiasco — were despicable, the media treated each case vastly differently.
There was immediate outrage from the media — and rightfully so— after NBA players were on the receiving end of attacks from fans. However, they used the opportunity to make it a conversation on race — highlghting the fact that the instigators were white and the players black.
ESPN’s “The Undefeated” ran a story with the title “The Ugliness Of NBA Fans Attacking Players,” with “Are Black Athletes Viewed As Human Beings?” as the subtitle.
The Atlantic went with “The Ugly Side of NBA Fandom Can No Longer Be Ignored.” The publication spoke with Tatishe Nteta — associate political-science professor at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst — who said “I don’t want to use these incidents to make a broad generalization about the salience of race,” he said of the pattern of white fans confronting Black players and their families. “But it’s an underlying factor, an underlying theme.”
Deadspin ran the story “White People Like Danny Ainge Need To Shut It About Racism In Boston” after the former Celtics general manager disagreed with Irving’s claim of “subtle racism” from Celtics fans.
“The Celtics general manager thought it would be a good idea to open his mouth about a city that’s long been considered one of the most racist places in the most racist country on Earth,” Carron J. Phillips of Deadspin wrote.
You can see the pattern. Disrespectful and uncalled for actions by white fans toward black athletes are viewed as racist acts — always.
So, what do we call the actions of non-white fans showering USMNT players with garbage? Nothing apparently.
There was plenty of coverage from the media — video of the soccer players being pelted with trash trended on social media for most of the day on Monday. However, few calls of racism have been heard.
Now imagine if US fans had thrown bottles at Mexican players, injured one of their best players with a bottle to the head, & chanted homophobic slurs forcing game to be stopped. (Game was in Denver). It would be systemic American racism & homophobia & be the lead story for a week
— Clay Travis (@ClayTravis) June 7, 2021
We quickly forget that the word “fan” is short for “fanatic.” Fans aren’t rational. The love for their team — mixed with copious amounts of alcohol — drives them to do incredibly stupid things. Like dumping popcorn on a players head, throwing a water bottle as an athlete departs the court, and flinging debris at the opposing team after a game-winning goal.
The media can’t have it both ways. Either every time a fan throws something at a player, it’s racist, or it isn’t. You don’t get to pick and choose based on the race of the offenders.
Additionally, categorizing every bad interaction between fans and players as “racist” cheapens the word and diminishes acts of real racism. Like the kind of racism the family of Memphis Grizzlies guard Ja Morant experienced in Salt Lake City during the Grizzlies first-round matchup against the Utah Jazz.
Morant’s father, Tee, told ESPN that one fan told him “I’ll put a nickel in your back and watch you dance, boy.”
It was a despicable thing to say — and it should be highlighted and exposed — but it becomes lessened when every single act by a fan is deemed as “racist.”
The claims of racism when it comes to fans and athletes will continue nonetheless, but at least you now have an example to point out their hypocrisy.
Joe Morgan is the Sports Reporter for The Daily Wire. Most recently, Morgan covered the Clippers, Lakers and the NBA for Sporting News. Send your sports questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The views expressed in this piece are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.
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