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Sunday, April 13, 2008

To Blind Mice

Thank you Jodi Zarkos, for writing about racism in sports. Racism and hidden personal prejudices are among our worst weapons of mass destruction. Moreover, for many reasons it is one of our most challenging subjects to address.

According to research from the University of Texas at Austin, “Umpires for Major League Baseball are more likely to call strikes in favor of pitchers who share their race or ethnicity.”

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/08/070813091112.htm

One of the longtime MLB rules states that an umpire should not make a call to ‘even things up’ from an earlier bad call. This regulation is one of the most ignored rules on the books and it sounds like the Pocatello umpire disregarded the “even things up” rule.

In a second related story, last week the Idaho Statesman picked up an article about sportsmanship from Ogden Utah’s Standard-Examiner called,

'They say it starts with a prayer and ends with a fight'

http://www.idahostatesman.com/localnews/story/347942.html

To promote better sportsmanship, some of the immensely popular LDS Church basketball leagues have instituted new rules, giving points for sportsmanship, which can actually change the scoring results of games.

I’m not sure how the outcome of the game that you witnessed would have shifted had points been rewarded for sportsmanship. It sounds as though non-sportsmanlike actions were sourcing from several angles. However, I think that we can have faith that at least some of the participating sportspersons took a cue from the behavior they witnessed and chalked it up to the “do-not-dews.”

Many of us have personal prejudices imbedded deep within us, which we would prefer to deny. Now, a machine can scan your mind for unconscious racism:

http://memlab1.eng.yale.edu/PDFs/2004_Cunningham_Johnson_Raye_PsychSci.pdf

I wonder if referee oversight committees will ever integrate a machine like this into future sporting justice initiatives. For starters, perhaps we should regulate the privilege to boo. That is, before we permit anyone to boo or yell two blind mice whenever they perceive a bad call, they should show that they have been in the challenging position of being a sports-referee, making split second decisions, while trying to remain honestly colorblind.

Lastly, one bit of racism right under our noses during these festive community sporting events is the dehumanizing us of mascot names, such as Salmon Savages and Blackfoot Indians.

http://www.aistm.org/1indexpage.htm

Thank you again Jodi for your comments.

1 comment:

Blowing Shit Up With Gas said...

My 2 cents is ... (well, actually my 2 cents is kind of just general apathy when it comes to most professional sports)... so, to rephrase: My opinion, if I had to give it on the matter, is: Get rid of the umps for calling strikes/balls. Replace them with some technological solution like pinning sensors onto the batter that delineate his strike zone. That'll work for the horizontal axis. For the vertical one, there could be sensors embedded in the ground around the plate.

I'm rather turned off about professional sports. I doubt one could get more uninterested than I am. However, my reasoning is lengthy and complex. I'll have to rant about it sometime.

...although I do love some of the nostalgia. Your post, oddly, reminded me of the wonderful story of Eddie Gaedel's famous at-bat in 1951.