Feature

The racist rap against white athletes

You’d think we had gotten past “infantile” racial stereotypes by now, but they’ve come back with a vengeance during this year’s NCAA basketball tournament, said Mike Freeman in CBSsports.com.

Mike FreemanCBSsports.com

It’s the oldest cliché in sports, said Mike Freeman. White players are slow and can’t jump, but make up for their lack of athleticism with savvy and smarts. By now, you’d think we had gotten past these “infantile” racial stereotypes, but they’ve come back with a vengeance during this year’s NCAA basketball tournament.

With a host of underdog teams like Northern Iowa, Cornell, and Saint Mary’s upsetting top-ranked schools, the TV commentators, sportswriters, and even fans called the white players on these teams “heady,” “scrappy,” and “overachievers.” That’s a nice way of saying they lack natural talent. It’s demonstrably not true: “Each of these mostly white teams is athletic as hell.” You don’t play on, or beat, the nation’s top basketball teams if you’re not an elite athlete.

Yet even players succumb to this backward thinking. I’m convinced that top-seeded Kansas got beaten because its players watched Northern Iowa warm up and thought, “We can take these guys. Jeez. Look at ’em.” And then Kansas got smoked—by some talented athletes who happen to be white.

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