The double standard in professional sports

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The double standard between black athletes and the white athletes have been a topic of discussion in media outlets. Black athletes feel that their actions, at times, are seen as more controversial than those of athletes who identify with other races.

New York Giants wide receiver, Odell Beckham Jr. and Carolina Panthers quarterback, Cam Newton have been the most recent focal points of these discussions. They are both prominent black athletes whose competitiveness and intensity on the field have been described as that of ‘drama queens’ and ‘sore losers’.

Here is the issue. Tom Brady of the New England Patriots, arguably the greatest quarterback of all-time, has had his fair share of controversial instances on the field as well. However, Brady is seen in the media as a high-level competitor, whose on-the-field tantrums are viewed as an outcome of how bad he wants to lead his team to victory.

In an incident in which Beckham yelled at his offensive coordinator, he was scrutinized in the media and viewed as immature. However, when Brady had a similar incident with his offensive coordinator a few seasons prior, the national media overlooked the entire situation. Beckham posted a tweet about the incident which said, “I learned from [Brady]. So I’m following his lead, I just may not know how to express it the same way.”

Newton has also received media scrutiny for walking off the field without shaking hands with the Denver Broncos, following his team’s loss in Super Bowl XLIV. Brady, rather frequently, walks off the field following losses without acknowledging the opposition, and does not receive negative attacks from the media that as Newton has. In a tweet posted after the game by talk radio show host James Kurdziel, Kurdziel said, “Tom Brady walks off field without shaking hands: ‘fierce competitor, hates losing’, Cam Newton walks off field without shaking hands: ‘classless thug, doesn’t get it’”.

This is a sensitive topic, but it must be addressed. Black athletes seem to have to always be perfect and mistake-free in every aspect of their lives, or else they receive media scrutiny.

Another example of the double standard that black athletes are held to is the case of women’s tennis mogul, Serena Williams. During a match in which Williams ultimately lost to Japanese sensation, Naomi Osaka, Williams went on a rant directed towards the umpire who gave her a penalty for receiving coaching during the match. Williams, visibly upset, said “I don’t cheat to win, I’d rather lose.” The umpire ended up giving her another violation for verbal abuse after Williams called him a “thief.” During the post-match interview, Williams said that “There are a lot of men out here who have said a lot of things and do not get that punishment. Because I am a woman you are going to take this away from me? That is not right.” Following the match, an Australian cartoonist, Mark Knight, published a controversial cartoon of Williams that depicted her in a belligerent manner and sambo-like, similar to how blacks were shown in the media during times of segregation. The cartoon received a lot of criticism, but the situation in general shows the double standard in athletics is not only race-based, but gender-based as well.

This is a sensitive topic, but it must be addressed. Black athletes seem to have to always be perfect and mistake-free in every aspect of their lives, or else they receive media scrutiny. NBA superstar, LeBron James, is a voice for many athletes in the world. In a press conference following his home being vandalized, James said, “No matter how big you can become in America, no matter how much influence you think you got or do have, if you’re African-American, it doesn’t matter,” James said. “You’re still black. You’re still black in America.”