Mario Ballotelli in 2013, Adam Jones and Yu Darvish in 2017, Raheem Sterling in 2018. All of these professional athletes are victims of racism, being demeaned while on the stage they have worked so hard to compete on.
Mario Balotelli is of Ghanian descent, but due to low wages, was put into care by his biological parents; eventually being adopted by an Italian couple, who he continues to consider his real parents to this day, along with sharing their Italian nationality. Balotelli always had a knack for playing soccer, and his parents encouraged him heavily in playing the world’s most popular sport. Balotelli quickly found his feet, and began playing professionally for Lumezzane at the spry age of 15. The next years of his life, he found himself playing for some of the world’s top clubs, including AC Milan. In an away match against Roma, Ballotelli and teammate Kevin-Prince Boateng were the subject of racist chants from the Roma fans. Balotelli took the high-ground, but still refuted the crowd for making “monkey noises” and yelling slurs at him, a truly unacceptable spectacle.
2017 was an ugly year for Major League Baseball. Early in the season, Adam Jones, a 12-year veteran center fielder, who at the time played for the Baltimore Orioles, was targeted by racist antics by Red Sox fans at Fenway Park. While Jones was in the outfield, Red Sox fans began chanting the N-word at him, while also throwing peanuts. Jones showed his disgust after the game, deservedly disgusted, feeling completely disrespected. Jones expressed later that he was playing a “white man’s game,” a player should never have to feel that way.
In the second disgusting act of prejudice of the season, Yulieski Gurriel did one of the most offensive, racist, and downright ignorant displays on Baseball’s biggest stage; the World Series. In a close series, Gurriel’s Houston Astros were playing the Los Angeles Dodgers. After a home run off of Japanese pitcher, Yu Darvish–a respected player in both his native Japan along with the United States–Gurriel rounded the bases celebrating, then called Darvish a racial slur in Darvish’s native tongue, a calculated, planned discrimination. If the slur wasn’t bad enough, Gurriel was spotted in the dugout squinting his eyes, adding onto his plate of idiocy. Gurriel escaped suspension in the World Series, but was suspended for the first 6 games of the 2018 season; a small price to pay for being a racist moron.
Going back to the world’s game, the next subject of racism is Manchester City forward, Raheem Sterling. In a home game in December, Sterling was doing his duty of taking corner kicks. While getting ready to kick the ball in, Sterling claimed that he was racially abused by the opposing team, Chelsea’s, fans, getting yelled at, just for being an African-English man. Sterling blamed media for the incident, emphasizing that their negative stories about him “fuel this racism.”
These stories of racial bias prove one thing; racism is not dead. Racist individuals need to move on from the days of the past, and realize that everyone is a human. It is not okay in ANY situation, rather it’s at an athlete, or at a friend, or just saying any racist phrase in general to be ignorant.
Don’t Reed Into It is a weekly sports column from Talon/TCTV/Sports Network reporter Reed Smith. Any sport, any season, any topic can be part of the conversation.