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Racism and Nationalism in Sports

Racism and nationality bias is a form of discrimination exhibited in sports worldwide. This type of discrimination has occurred since the inception of the human social and cultural value. In the 12th century, Greeks considered the other people in their colonies inferior and barbaric. In this regard, they prohibited them from participating in some social and cultural activities such as sports (Brooks 43). Presently, controversies in sports regarding racism and nationality bias have led to numerous prejudices and beliefs concerning people’s diverse sporting capabilities. Subsequently, these disagreements have provided psychologist with insights on each race’s contribution towards sports. While such debates are vital, the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission view this form of discrimination as abusive and controversial. Thus, it advocates for its complete abolishment.


The 1936 Olympics ushered in a new era in sports. During the biding process, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) members had to cast their votes to determine the events host city. The voting process occurred in 1931 before Hitler’s regime in Germany. When Hitler ascended to power in1933, Nazis only allowed the “Aryan race” to participate in the Olympics. This promoted Hitler’s fascist ideologies of racial supremacy in athletics. As a result, Spain and the soviet nation boycotted the Olympics. Despite these discriminatory acts, Americans participated in the Olympics leading to protests from sports newspapers editors and other anti-Nazi diplomats. These groups argued that the Nazis policies were against the Olympic rules. They were concerned that these policies were considerably intimidating to other races. However, the American sport officials defended their participation. They stated that their guaranteed African-American victories would dismiss the Nazis’ belief of racial supremacy. Despite the African-American’s support of the event, the American-Jewish, through their associations, opposed the American participation. During the Olympics, the American-Jewish protested against the Germans dehumanizing acts and the American participation in the controversial   athletics. Similarly, some of the Americans athletes who included the American-Jewish boycotted the event.

In 1960s, the media contributed significantly in perpetuating racial discrimination in sports. White media reporters failed to acknowledge the African-American accomplishments in their sports events coverage. Similarly, the media gave an insignificant coverage to the Asian-Americans, Native Americans, and Latino athletes. The 1980s sports magazines coverage illustrated the lack of media coverage on the African-American athletes as compared to the white athletes. Severally, accusations were directed towards the media’s display of bias considering that the African-American’s coverage was not proportional to their participation in sports. In the beginning of 1980, the African-Americans dominated most games such as basketball.

The minority’s representation in professional games varies in different sports and from region to region. The African-American players dominate basketball in America while the percentage of Latinos in baseball has been rising over time. Similarly, the American football consists of a considerably large number of African-American players. This disapproves the past ideologist where whites perceived themselves as superior and considered the other people as inferiors who could not match the whites’ skills and knowledge. The minority groups’ achievements proved that anyone could succeed in sports regardless of their race, nationality, and ethnicity.


Throughout history, superior races have used racism to discriminate and undermine the people from other races that they consider inferior. Since time immemorial, stereotypes have been the main cause of racism and other forms of discrimination in social activities such as sports. The exposure of human beings to biased books and media causes them to create stereotype about other people. Upon exposure to a racist environment, children adopt negative perceptions of other people. Such children exhibit their adoption of bias in social activities including sports.

Another main cause of racism and nationality bias in sports is unfamiliarity. Several people including sports personalities fear strangeness. Therefore, athletes and sportsmen who have grown up in an only one-race setting have higher chances of being racist. Varying behaviors and cultural values have immensely contributed to unfamiliarity (Egendorf 234). Similarly, studies have attributed selfishness and pride to the spread of racism in sports. Some individuals in the sports fraternity are self-centered. They are only concerned about themselves and their race and disregard other people. Such individuals have continuously perpetuated racism in sports.

Weak and lenient laws governing the conduct of sports personalities considerably facilitate racism and nationality bias in sports. Weak laws may encourage sports personnel to exploit the loopholes and perpetuate racism. Mostly, such instances happen among the athletics bodies’ officials and other sports authorities where the officials are biased in the selection of referees and when deciding on other important sports events. Such acts tarnish sport’s image and its contribution among the public members of the society.


To end this vice, the sports and athletic fraternity requires stringed measures. Psychologists have identified ways of eliminating racism and nationality bias in sports. Although there is no definite way of tackling racisms, psychologist suggest that sports men, athletes and sports personnel should disregard their views and dispositions as imparted into them by their community and diffuse themselves into other races. In this regard, people should treat each other equally regardless of their nationality and race. The course of sporting activities provides the participants with a forum to mingle and exchange their opinions and views leading to the acknowledgement of each other’s values. In this essence, it is possible to eliminate prejudice and other negatives attitudes based on nationality and race. Sports participants will appreciate their racial disparity while eliminating negative attitudes among themselves.

Consequently, sports institutions should establish appropriate policies and laws to eradicate racism and nationality bias in sports. They should work with the relevant human rights bodies in ensuring that sport facilities, services, and rules offer equal opportunities to all people across all races and nationality. Similarly, tough laws should be legislated to curb acts of racism and nationality bias. The relevant authorities should impose heavy fines on any individual who engages in any form of discrimination. Moreover, in case of an athlete or sport official, the authorities should suspended him or her from participating in any sport activity. In extreme cases of racism and nationality bias, the authorities should ban such individuals from any future participation in sports.

In 1997, Bill Clinton inaugurated a law in the United States prohibiting discrimination in sports. The country intends to establish more laws to eliminate racism. Many Americans suggest that to eliminate racism in sports Americans must stop racism in all other aspects of social life.


Racism and nationality bias has adversely affected sports. Teammates cannot participate to the best of their ability because they feel unequal. In some instances, the spectators perpetuate racism and nationality bias by shouting racist phrases to the athletes. In such instances, sport bodies advise teams to warn their supporters against portraying any form discrimination especially among the players as it negatively affect their performance (Shropshire 256). The government should eliminate racisms and other forms of discrimination in all disciplines. In this regard, peoples will start to appreciate one another regardless of their race and nationality. The sports sector will considerably benefit from the elimination of this vice. Team cohesion and participation will considerably improve fostering excellent performance in various sporting events. It is therefore a responsibility of every individual to ensure the eradication of all forms of discrimination in sports and other societal settings.

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