Sunday, April 13, 2008

To Color Blind Mice

Thank you Jodi Zarkos, for writing about racism in sports. Racism and hidden personal prejudices are among our worst weapons of mass destruction. Moreover, for many reasons it is one of our most challenging subjects to address.

According to research from the University of Texas at Austin, “Umpires for Major League Baseball are more likely to call strikes in favor of pitchers who share their race or ethnicity.”

One of the longtime MLB rules states that an umpire should not make a call to ‘even things up’ from an earlier bad call. This regulation is one of the most ignored rules on the books and it sounds like the Pocatello umpire disregarded the “even things up” rule.

In a second related story, last week the Idaho Statesman picked up an article about sportsmanship from Ogden Utah’s Standard-Examiner called,

'They say it starts with a prayer and ends with a fight'

To promote better sportsmanship, some of the immensely popular LDS Church basketball leagues have instituted new rules, giving points for sportsmanship, which can actually change the scoring results of games.

I’m not sure how the outcome of the game that you witnessed would have shifted had points been rewarded for sportsmanship. It sounds like non-sportsmanlike actions were sourcing from several angles. However, I think that we can have faith that at least some of the participating sportspersons took a cue from the behavior they witnessed and chalked it up to the “do-not-dews.”

Many of us have personal prejudices imbedded deep within us, which we would prefer to deny. Now, a machine can scan your mind for unconscious racism:

I wonder if referee oversight committees will ever integrate a machine like this into future sporting justice initiatives. For starters, perhaps we should regulate the privilege to boo. That is, before we permit anyone to boo or yell “two blind mice” when they perceive a bad call, they should show that they have been in the challenging position of being a sports-referee, making split-second judgments, while trying to stay color-blind.

Lastly, one bit of racism right under our noses during these festive community-sporting events is the dehumanizing use of mascot names, such as Salmon Savages and Blackfoot Indians.

Thank you again Jodi for your comments.

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