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Countering Racial Discrimination in Professional and College Sports

Mr. John Barton reviews the conversations around racial profiling.

Though the days of white masters owning black slaves have long passed, looking down on persons with a darker complexion is sadly still with us. Recent activities are driven by the now prominent Black Lives Matter movement that started in the US and extended to larger parts of the world bringing to the fore, even the subtlest signs of white privilege. These events were so eye-opening that they started an entire conversation around racial profiling in almost every sphere of a person of colour’s life, including sports.

Take a knee

When Colin Rand Kaepernick took a knee during the national anthem at an NFL game, he received praise and backlash in equal measure. What others saw as an act of rebellion was viewed by many – black young athletes and older mentors in the sports fraternity and beyond – as positive activism. Although it cost him his career, Kaepernick started a revolution to counter discrimination against people of colour by the police.

This has led other athletes to open up about blatant discrimination due to the colour of their skin, even as sports bodies try to paint a different picture. So, while kneeling did not necessarily solve the problem, it started a conversation that will hopefully shape the future of sports for younger athletes whose careers are only starting or taking off.

Causes of Racial Conflict in Sports

One of the main reasons for conflict among athletes is a misconception. Some white players may be under the impression that their counterparts - players of colour – are naturally aggressive and easy to incite. They may also be made to believe that black players are not good enough to make, for example, excellent quarterbacks or get some other high positions in different sports.

Things get heated during competitions, whether between team members or opposing players, and this stereotype is always likely to come up when emotions are high. It only takes a few words to bring out the worst in another when they are at the height of emotional and physical exhaustion.

These days, it is quite common to see an essay on racial profiling by students trying to expound on the effects of this unfortunate bias. Writers express in their own words what they have experienced in college sports teams the discrimination of players of any other decent than white. The essays, such as the ones found here, tackle a challenging topic with ease.

These eye-opening essays show that even in schools where learners are expected to be more open-minded and knowledgeable; there are still incidences of the odd football player being thought to be easily provoked, even without evidence.  These examples expose the impacts of this form of discrimination on sportspeople, and they go a long way in shedding light on this topic.

Worth noting is that the First Amendment in the US protects public high school and college students taking the knee during the national anthem since this part of the constitution deals with matters of the government. This happens as long as the silent protest does not get in the way of the game.  Writers of research papers on this matter could do great to expound on the rights of student protesters from various parts of the world as a way to shed some much-needed light.

How Can we Counter Sports Discrimination in Schools and Universities?

Whether your area of study allows you to write about racial discrimination or not, and even if it does not affect you directly, you have a mandate to call it out. Some sports commissioners try to lock players of colour out of prominent positions based on illogical arguments, and in these cases, privileged players should call it out.

Everyone with the ability to play a sport deserves an equal chance at it without prejudice based on race, gender, or sexuality. More university students should take up writing about this, whether as part of their numerous plagiarism-free paper assignments or on social platforms. Only a united front can fight this senseless injustice that has gone on for far too long. 

Page Reference

If you quote information from this page in your work, then the reference for this page is:

  • BARTON, J. (2020) Countering Racial Discrimination in Professional and College Sports [WWW] Available from: [Accessed

About the Author

John Barton is a Freelance Journalist.