A recent study finds that NBA commentators, the vast majority of whom are white, are far more likely to praise light-skinned players and criticize dark-skinned players.
The research reported by the Hill pointed out that while three-fourths of players in the NBA are black, it is almost exactly the opposite racial breakdown among NBA reporters.
According to the article, “Nearly three-fourths of players in the NBA are Black, according to Statista’s most recent data, while white players make up 16.9 percent of the league and Hispanic players make up 2.2 percent, leaving 6.6 percent of players from other races.”
However, the sports media trends toward the white side with its racial breakdown.
“The largely white male-dominated industry is only 7.6 percent Black, but 70 percent white, according to Zippia. Among sports broadcasters, that representation is even more white, with nearly three-fourths being white and just about 8 percent Black,” the Hill reported.
With these stats in mind, a survey of comments made by the sports media describing NBA players found that the mostly white commentators criticized the darker-skinned players at a higher rate than the light-skinned players.
Bias isn’t always blatant. In the study, researchers defined bias as ‘the distribution of comments towards players of different skin colors’ and found a definite bias towards lighter-skinned players over darker-skinned players. Comments like ‘doesn’t have all the athleticism in the world but he plays smart,’ were more often directed toward lighter-skinned players, based on an evaluation of headshots using the Fitzpatrick color scale, while darker-skinned players would often hear comments like, ‘it just does not look like he’s engaged.’
‘As events transpire in front of them at a machine-gun pace, announcers are caught up in the ‘heat of the battle.’ Having to inform and entertain in this environment, often without the time to choose words carefully, causes announcers to dredge up comments that reflect subconscious beliefs, images, attitudes, and values,’ said James A. Rada in a 2005 study of racial descriptors in television coverage that was cited by RunRepeat.
The statistics are interesting considering the fact that sports media — all down the line, not just NBA reporters — are some of the most woke in all of the media establishment.
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