‘Race’ Racism and Sports Journalism • Neil Farrington: Senior Lecturer in Sports Journalism • Daniel Kilvington: PhD student • Dr John Price: Programme Leader Sports Journalism • Dr Amir Saeed: Programme Leader Media, Culture and Communication
‘Race’ Racism and Sports Journalism • Researchers have done empirical work looking at ‘race’ and racisms in sport, analysing issues such as participation and spectatorship, and interviewing professional athletes. • Signiﬁcantly, though, few studies have historically analysed the shifting nature of ‘race’ and racism in sports journalism with the aid of extensive empirical work. • This is an important gap in research given the increasing social and cultural prominence of sports journalism and the fact that sports reporting has the power and ability to shape people’s opinions on contentious issues such as ‘race’, racism, ethnicity, nationalism and belonging (Boyle and Haynes, 2009). It is a gap which this book seeks to start to address.
‘race’ • ‘Race’ exists as a conceptual reality, but it is a lie – a myth which leads to the direct and indirect discrimination, abuse and suﬀering of billions of people on Earth on a daily, hourly and secondly basis. • Across the globe, racism manifests itself in various ways that ensures that people are victimized on the basis of some negative biological and/or cultural trait which they are supposed to possess.
‘Its’ everywhere! • Although there is a growing body of evidence that discredits the notion of ‘race’, ‘race’ thinking still permeates much of Western culture. It is routinely used by politicians, media workers, academics and laypeople from a variety of backgrounds to describe, ascribe and, at times, disparage groups of people. • As Malik (1996, p2) argues: Race seems to be both everywhere and nowhere … We continually categorise people according to their ‘race’ – Afro-Caribbean, white, Jewish. Discussions of culture, history or art often seem to centre around race – ‘Asian culture’, ‘black history’, ‘African art’. Everything from criminality to the entrepreneurial spirit is given a racial connotation – witness the stereotypes of ‘black muggers’ or ‘Asian shopkeepers’. • Hall (1996) has suggested that ‘race’ has become a ‘ﬂoatingsigniﬁer’;
‘Race’ is a myth – ‘Humanity is not a Dulux colour chart with everyone falling into discrete categories’ (Hylton 2008) • But - exists as social constructs and carries CONNOTATIONS that imply RACISM • Racisms - real, negative impacts on lives • Racisms may be overt or inferential • Can be reproduced through the policies, practices and cultures of social systems such as the media
PCC code • i) The press must avoid prejudicial or pejorative reference to an individual's race... • ii) Details of an individual's race... must be avoided unless genuinely relevant to the story.
Frogs Need a Good Kicking The way the French ‘grabbed the lion's share of World Cup tickets is typical of their slimy continental ways ... As we proved at Agincourt and Waterloo, a good kicking on their gallic derrieres is the only language the greedy frogs understand.’
Reforms? • Allow 3rd party complaints • Acknowledge discrimination against groups/nations • Punishments for persistent offenders
Sutton Trust report • Leading journalists: • 14% comprehensive education • 45% Oxbridge • Three-quarters from ‘top’ 13 universities • Diversity decreased in last 20 years • ‘...bias towards those with family or personal connections...’
Education/training • BME students = 23% of university population But: • Comprise 12% of those studying journalism degrees (Higher Education Statistics Agency, 2010)
Main problems: • Perception ‘I’ve spoken to some of the (black) lads who do cover athletics and they don’t feel part of the crowd. It’s a very cliquey pack mentality and these lads don’t feel a part of that.’ (Simon Turnbull, Chairman of the British Athletics Writers Association) • Recruitment ‘Sports journalism is an old boys club and it’s all about mates of mates and because there are only two black journalists they don’t really have any mates.’ (Greg Gobere, ex-News of the World)
What does “whiteness” entail • Consider the following research hypothesis or proposal. Are European Caucasians innately good at golf because of biological characteristics associated with their white skin? • Such a proposition would be subject to ridicule and scorn. In contrast, researchers from a variety of academic disciplines have tried to scientiﬁcally reason the sporting success of certain ethnic groups based on a biological understanding of the concept of ‘race’. • The classiﬁcation of racial categories is so entrenched within culture and society that people can debate and reason as to why black people are innately good at sprinting, and the topic has been the subject of much academic, scientiﬁc and political enquiry.
Institutional racist thinking • ‘Did you read the article arguing that the composition of the European Ryder Cup team demonstrated the ‘white race’s’ innate ability to swing a stick in pendulum motion? Or did you read the quote from the biologist claiming to have identified a golf gene in some of the whiter tribes of deepest Surrey? No, neither did we.’ • The challenge is how to classify groups without the baggage of connotations that are difficult to ignore due to history, culture, empire etc.