Segregation in Sports
Back in 1947 racism was apparent through our country’s various laws oppressing different minority groups. Jackie Robinson witnessed this oppression during his amazing battle with segregation while being the first African American to play professional baseball. He was called derogatory names, fans threw things at him, and he had to deal with a world against him. He battled the oppression that he faced and managed to become one of baseballs greatest players and most storied heroes. He is seen as an icon of the civil rights era, and in the sporting world he is a symbol of triumph and tolerance. He was one of the first successful minorities in sports. With Jackie Robinson, people saw the beginning of the end of segregation in professional sports. In today’s American professional sport culture, segregation still exists; however it is more subtle than it was in the past. Now segregation is no longer fixed in laws, but through socially constructed barriers. The divide in sports is now based on socio economic factors such as wealth, location, and class. We see the late Jackie Robinson’s struggle in other sports fifty years later, with athletes such as Kyle Harrison in professional lacrosse. Kyle is one of four well-known African Americans in the National Lacrosse League. He has battled many stereotypes just to get to where he is today. His struggle illustrates the continual segregation in today’s sports. There is socially constructed segregation in our society today because the majority (whites) actively engages in an exclusive racial contract, as is evident in American professional sports.
The racial contract is a system where the privileges of white people over non-whites are establish and supported at all costs. “We live, then, in a world built on the racial contract”(Mills 30). This contract lets white exploit non-whites and deny them opportunities. This contract was explicit in the past, as evident in the “Jim Crow Laws” and the orderly segregation of pre-civil rights era America. In today’s society, the contract is less apparent and appears in forms such as cultural barriers and location. We see examples of this contract littered throughout sports. The discrepancies in the racial contract are evident in professional sports. No one is born as a professional athlete; they have to work to get there. Professionals work hard their entire life. There are two main types of sports that people can practice and play professionally, country club and street sports. Country club sports are exclusive; they require wealth and cultural assimilation. Charles Mills’ main argument was the Racial Contract secures white privileges. These white privileges are the ones included in country club sports. Mills cited, “But in any case the general purpose of the Contract is always the differential privileging of the whites as a group with respect to the non whites as a group.” (Mills 11). Country club sports include lacrosse, swimming, golf, and hockey. All these sports are very expensive to play and require a lot of resources. I have played lacrosse since the eighth grade and I don’t even want to know how many thousands of dollars my parents have spent on my team fees, plane tickets to tournaments, equipment and medical bills. Bigfoot lacrosse (a lacrosse store in Portland) said the average start up cost is between three hundred and four hundred dollars. Due to the fact that there are not that many good lacrosse teams in Oregon, my high school flew to San Francisco each year to play the best teams in California. The expenses included plane tickets, hotel rooms, transportation to the fields, and meals. Lacrosse equipment is also very expensive; my stick alone cost over two hundred and fifty dollars. The pads, helmets, gloves, and cleats cost money as well. Lacrosse is also very expensive because the equipment can break easily. You grow out of your pads after a few years, sticks and strings break all the time, and the...
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