The Double Standards That Black Athletes Face In Professional Sports: What If Big Ben Were Black?

Are African American pro athletes treated differently when it comes to certain situations?

By: Taren Vaughan

s a professional athlete, you inherit both the fame and fortune. Sounds wonderful doesn’t it? But all of their wealth comes with a cost. Everything that they do becomes public knowledge and someone is watching their every move. Their status alone can cause people to do some strange things to them including accuse them of acts that they did not commit. A falsely accused white athlete can have a better chance of redeeming their careers when things like this happen but it’s not so easy for an African American athlete to do the same. Why is that? Those are things we like to call double standards.

Just recently, Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben “Big Ben” Roethlisberger was accused of sexually assaulting another woman in the state of Georgia. This is the second sexual assault accusation against Ben Roethlisberger within the past two years.

Now picture if this was Kobe Bryant? Would the media be this calm about the situation?

Of course not. Some people barely let Kobe live down his one incident from several years ago. And as for Tiger Woods, he was thoroughly chastised by reporters for his infidelity. Was Tiger wrong? Yes, but what he did can be viewed only as a MORAL crime, not a federal one. There is a huge difference between the two but some people just don’t seem to think so.

Now I am no Big Ben hater by far. I think he is a very talented athlete and he seems to really enjoy what he does. The media has done it’s share of criticizing Roethlisberger for his bad behavior as they did Tiger. Although this is true, there is a difference when it comes to a Caucasian athlete being accused or found guilty of a crime than an athlete of minority decent. An incident like his would forever scar our reputations, no longer allowing people to focus on our talents. Instead they would become more interested in how much jail time we may be serving.

The double standards in sports are often linked to stereotypes that have been implemented by society. Unfortunately for minorities, there are some harsh stereotypes out there that serve as a reflection of our race. No matter how many shots you make or touchdown passes you throw, remember the color of your skin. African American athletes including high school, college and professional, must be mindful of the choices that they make both on and off the field or court.

1 comment

  1. There is most definitely a double standard when it comes to black athletes and their media portrayal when they commit any type of crime. The media uses these incidents to perpetuate those stereotypes that you mentioned to society as a whole. It's as if they are saying "See Black ppl dont know how to act…" If a white athlete is exposed to those same circumstances, mainstream media prefers to sweep it under the rug because in those situations they are saying.."Hey we dont wanna give too much attention to this b/c we dont wanna portray white America in this light".. So thats where African American nediums like this come in and call a spade a spade… good job

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