Sunday, May 4, 2014

American Sports: A Breeding Ground for Cultural Insensitivity


A belief or doctrine that inherent differences among the various human races determine cultural or individual achievement, usually involving the idea that one's own race is superior and has the right to rule others.

          Donald Sterling, for all intents and purposes, is a racist. For whatever it is worth, that is something that we can all agree on. If you have not heard it yet, nearly 10 minutes from the hours of audio recorded by Sterling's girlfriend can be heard online at TMZ. The NBA has decided to ban Sterling for life, and is doing all they can to force him to sell the Los Angeles Clippers. Not much else can be done on that front, but that is not the real issue at hand. There is a problem with cultural competency in American Sports and this incident has done nothing but brought the issue into the light for the untrained eye.

Cultural Competency

The ability to understand, appreciate, and interact with persons from cultures and/or belief systems other than one’s own, based on various factors.

          For instance, Native Americans. Besides the fact that the "New World" is one that was stolen from the Native American people, many sports mascots have been named in the spirit of their culture, including names like "Black Hawks", "Chiefs", "Braves" and most notably, the Washington, D.C football franchise. For more than 80 years, the Washington Football team has used a Native American slur to denote their team name, and most recently triedto defy logic by suggesting that it is acceptable to call the football team by this name, although it is derogatory to refer to Native Americans by the same name.


An irrational fear of, aversion to, or discrimination against homosexuality or homosexuals. 

          In an interview with Artie Lange, San Francisco 49ers cornerback Chris Culliver stated, "No, we don't got no gay people on the team, they gotta get up out of here if they do. Can't be with that sweet stuff." This sort of problematic statement is the exact reason that so many professional athletes are unable to feel comfortable in their own skin today. Trapped in the closet for their young adult lives, because people like Culliver say that gay players should, "Wait 10 years later or after that," to come forward with their sexual orientation.


The unjust or prejudicial treatment of different categories of people or things, especially on the grounds of race, gender, or sexual orientation. 

          What we as a people fail to realize, is that we are all discriminated against some point in our lives. Some more than most, but everyone nevertheless. The problem with that is that although we experience this and hate it just as much as the next person, we perpetuate it by continuing a culture that supports such actions. There are outliers that see the need to apply the rules of social justice to other people than their own, but most of us fail to do so, and we see it in these examples. When it comes to Donald Sterling, all minorities unite in saying that they cannot support such a hateful person. However, when Daniel Snyder brings in "Chief Zee", an African-American man dressed up as a stereotypical Native American, to support his fight to maintain his team mascot, the only people offended are Native Americans.

The Solution

          The only way for America to go beyond the limitations of racism, classism, sexism, and homophobia is for everyone to fight for the rights of all people. Not just on a national level, but as individuals. My family and I use a system of checks and balances, where if anyone of us uses a word that refers to another culture in a derogatory way, we call each other out on it. Its the little things that matter most, and those same things can have the greatest positive effect if we all follow through.