[Originally published at http://blackworthy.com/onrooting-for-your-race-in-sports/ on August 29, 2012]
Last week, former sports writer and now provocateur Skip Bayless announced on ESPN’s First Take that human nature will cause White Washington Redskins fans to root for fourth-round rookie quarterback Kirk Cousins – who is White, over Robert Griffin III (RG3) – who is Black and the team’s first-round selection. Similarly, he explained, Blacks root for Black players.
Bayless first attacked the selection of Cousins as putting undue pressure on Griffin months ago immediately after the draft but only alluded to racial reasons. Although never mentioning race, he cited the 1970s quarterback controversy surrounding the Los Angeles Rams perhaps undercutting starting quarterback James Harris who was Black by using a high draft pick for Ron Jaworski who was White. Another typically racially charged QB controversy during that era was between Joe Gilliam and Terry Bradshaw of the Pittsburgh Steelers before Bradshaw led the team to four Super Bowl championships.
This time around, Bayless specifically couched the issue in racial terms and instead focused human nature:
“I’m going to throw it out there. You also have the black-white dynamic and the majority of Redskins fans are White. And it’s just human nature, if you’re White to root for the White guy,” Bayless contended. “It just happens in sports. Just like the Black community will root for the Black quarterback. I’m for the Black guy. I’m just saying I don’t like the dynamic for RG3. It could stunt his growth in the NFL.”
But Bayless’ analysis is also oversimplified at best. Although some White fans, given truth serum, would likely prefer a White quarterback and some Black fans would prefer a Black quarterback, most sports fans couldn’t care less because as former Oakland Raiders owner Al Davis once said –“Just win baby.” Truth be told, some Blacks would actually prefer a White quarterback or one that played the “white” way – that is from the pocket without so much running thinking it provided a better chance to succeed.
You might call the desire for your team’s quarterback to share your pigmentation as reverse racism but don’t tell me it’s human nature.