An analysis of 200 televised pro baseball games reveals broadcasters' hidden biases.
Sports broadcasting history is littered with stories of announcers making offensive remarks about a player's race. To name a few:
- 1983: Howard Cosell's description of a catch by black Redskins receiver Alvin Garrett: "That little monkey gets loose, doesn't he?" Cosell insisted there was no racial aspect to the comment, and that he referred to his own white grandson in the same way. Cosell had actually used the term to describe other players—white and non-white alike—prior to the Garrett incident.
- 1988: Football commentator Jimmy "The Greek" Snyder, on black athletes: "This goes back to the Civil War...the slave owner would breed his big black to his big woman...so that he could have a big black kid." Snyder was fired for his comments.
- 2003: Rush Limbaugh, then in the booth for Monday Night Countdown, on Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb: "I don't think he's been that good from the get-go. I think what we've had here is a little social concern in the NFL. The media has been very desirous that a black quarterback do well." Limbaugh was gone from the show soon after.
- 2005: San Francisco sports radio host Larry Krueger, in regards to the Giants: "Brain dead Caribbean hitters hacking at slop nightly." The quote would eventually cost him his job.
The aforementioned instances—possibly excluding Cosell's—have an obvious racial tint. What is more difficult to prove is the existence of subconscious racial bias: a white man crossing the street as a black man approaches, for example. The white man may not even realize he is acting in a way that assumes the approaching stranger means to do them harm, but is acting on a racial bias nonetheless. Are sports announcers guilty of this sort of bias, and are viewers unknowingly absorbing them?