April 14, 2011

More Student Reflections on Losing to Win

Wake Forest Student Steven Johns reflects on the Losing to Win Conference and the Media Panel in particular.

As a student of Wake Forest University, I was very pleased with this conference and the Media panel in particular. Thomas O’Toole from USA Today; Kevin Blackistone from the University of Maryland; LaChina Robinson from ESPN/Fox; and Frank Matthews from Diverse Issues in Higher Education, discussed the implicit biases formed by the media regarding intercollegiate athletics. The panel raised issues about the use of a certain “code” language in the media that inherently creates bias and separation in college sports.

A recurring theme in the panel discussion was the description of athletes of different race. The panel noted that the media often describes African American athletes as “naturally talented” and “athletic” while comparable Caucasian athletes are often described as “intelligent.” This “code” language emphasizes stereotypes of black and white athletes even if the labels given to these athletes are not necessarily true. Other issues raised by the panel included the issue of minority representation in the field of sports journalism and the underrepresentation of women athletics.

Not only did the panel raise awareness of the issues at hand, but they also provided necessary information that could lead to solutions. The combination of experience and knowledge that this panel brought to the conference allowed for all those in attendance to realize the problems of the current media system and the racial biases that still exist in a world that is often thought to be free of racism and segregation.

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