What's Happening in the World

Discrimination in Athletics

“I told Vanessa [teammate Vanessa Ferrari] that next time we should also paint our skin black, so then we could win too.” This is a direct quote from Italian gymnast, Carlotta Ferlito, in 2013. She made this statement to an Italian journalist after Simone Biles was crowned the first woman of color to win an all-around title at the world championships. The new world champion is indeed a young African American girl, but she showcased talent, consistency and poise throughout the whole competition, thus being the reason why she won. This was a blanket term of racism. For Ferlito to insinuate that the only reason Biles won was because Biles is black was very ignorant and immature. Biles won because she obviously performed better than her competitors.
This comment may have been made 2 years ago, but it is still very relevant and a good example of the underlying racism and discrimination that many minority athletes face when competing. I think it is safe to say that almost every minority athlete has faced some sort of oppression simply because they were better at the sport, but were a minority. As they say, everyone has haters, and “haters gonna hate,” especially when they see you doing great. That very well may be true but it is a common issue that when a minority athlete comes to a sport and takes it by storm, many of his/her white competitors become very unsettled by their talent and then move to underhanded ignorant comments against the athlete of color. We have seen it time and time again where a black athlete is doing so well, that they are being watched internationally and then a jealous competitor tries to belittle their talent and insinuate that the only reason they are such a success is because they are a minority. Just a year earlier when Gabby Douglass was winning numerous medals for Team USA during the 2012 Olympics, people were so threatened by her success that they lowered themselves to make racial slurs about this teen champion. They made fun of her hair, especially because of its kinkiness, a trait typically associated with black people. They also made fun of her body and skin, for the simple fact that she was doing great and people couldn’t handle the idea that this young African American girl had so much talent and skill. Many more minority athletes have faced this same racial backlash. Think of Tiger Woods for example, he became a champion of golf, which is notoriously known to be a white-male dominated sport. During his whole rise to the top, he faced discrimination and ignorance because of the color of his skin.
This is a reoccurring issue that has been going on for centuries. Many, not all, but many people find it hard to believe that a minority, especially black people, can be better than them in sports or in any field in general. For instance when the Negro Baseball league first arose, the players faced so much hate, but think about the stars who came from this league, like Jackie Robinson for example. He then went onto the MLB after they finally allowed African-Americans to join the national league. He played in six World Series and won one of them. The accolades that minorities have won in white dominated sports are plentiful. Minority athletes typically have to work twice as hard as their white counterparts when competing, but that statement is also applicable to most fields that minorities try to enter. People of color are constantly seen as a threat when they enter fields that were originally dominated by whites, but what we must take into account is that skill, talent and intellect are not unique to any ethnicity. Minorities can and are successful in numerous fields not because they are a minority, but simply because they posses the skills necessary in order to be a force to be reckoned with.We should all be working together rather than against each other in athletics, the work field, and in general.

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