Racial bias in com­men­tary, study shows

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Sport - By Luke Ed­wards

A study com­mis­sioned by the Pro­fes­sional Foot­ballers’ As­so­ci­a­tion has found that black play­ers are far more likely to be de­scribed us­ing neg­a­tive lan­guage when dis­cussing in­tel­li­gence and work rate by ra­dio and tele­vi­sion com­men­ta­tors.

The study, by Dan­ish com­pany RunRe­peat, stud­ied com­men­tary from 80 games – across the Premier League, Serie A, La Liga and Ligue 1 – by English speak­ers work­ing for Bri­tish, Amer­i­can and Cana­dian out­lets.

It showed that play­ers of a lighter skin tone were more likely to be praised for in­tel­li­gence, qual­ity and hard work. Those with darker skin tones were more likely to have their pos­i­tive im­pact re­duced to phys­i­cal char­ac­ter­is­tics and ath­letic abil­ity.

Sta­tis­ti­cal anal­y­sis showed 62.60 per cent of praise of­fered for in­tel­li­gence was given to play­ers of lighter skin tone, while 60.40 per cent of praise ref­er­enced their work rate. Com­men­ta­tors were six times more likely to talk about play­ers of darker skin tone in terms of their phys­i­cal­ity and more than three times more likely to talk about their speed.

The re­port con­cluded: “This must be the mo­ment that we all, col­lec­tively, ad­dress deep-rooted racial stereo­types. We un­der­stand that the com­men­ta­tors may not have in­tended to fur­ther racial stereo­types. How­ever, the nar­ra­tive of black peo­ple’s pri­mary value lay­ing in their phys­i­cal­ity and not their in­tel­li­gence dates back to at­ti­tudes mod­ern so­ci­ety is de­ter­mined to erad­i­cate.”

Ja­son Lee, the PFA’s Equal­i­ties Ex­ec­u­tive, ex­plained this was about ed­u­ca­tion rather than blame.

“If peo­ple are ig­no­rant and they don’t want to change, that’s when we have a prob­lem,” he said. “We are try­ing to make it a bet­ter place for the peo­ple who fol­low us.”

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