5 Epic Times Sports Responded to Racism

Racism in sports has a long history, but an incident in Paris this week has put it in the spotlight.

On Tuesday, white fans of the English soccer team Chelsea repeatedly shoved a black man out of a crowded subway train while chanting, “We’re racist, we’re racist, and that’s the way we like it.” Footage of the episode, shot by a bystander, quickly went viral.

Chris Ramsey, the only black manager at the English soccer group Premiere League, told BBC: “Football as a whole need to deal with these racists—and people outside of football as well.”

The incident spurred the Chelsea Football Club into action. On Thursday, the group banned the three fans in the video from attending its games. Sepp Blatter, the president of FIFA tweeted that “there is no racism in football!”  A spokesman for the team told The Guardian, “These actions have no place in football or society.”

Prejudice in sports can’t be solved overnight, but responses from officials, fans, and players to such incidences give people reason to be optimistic. These are just five them.

1. ‘We Are All Monkeys’

During a soccer match in Villarreal, Spain in April 2014, a Villarreal fan hurled a banana at Barcelona soccer player Dani Alvis. The racially-charged taunt is common in the league, but Alves' remarkable response inspired a social media movement: He picked it up, took a bite, and kept playing. Later, his teammate posted a photo of himself holding a banana with the hash tag #SomosTodosMacacos, or “we are all monkeys.” The hash tag went viral on Twitter and Instagram, with former and current players and fans sharing pictures of themselves with bananas in hand.

2. Donald Sterling and the L.A. Clippers

The NBA force Donald Sterling to sell the Los Angeles Clippers in 2014 after an audio recording of his racist rant leaked. But before that, the controversy rocked the league, which employed many African-American players. In a show of solidarity, Clipper players wore their shirts inside out during warm-ups to hide the team’s name. Fans showed their disapproval as well, including those of the Golden State Warriors, the Clippers’ rivals.

3. ESPN Editor Fired Over Headline

In February 2012, ESPN.com editor Anthony Frederico posted the headline “Chink in the Armor” in reference to then New York Knicks point guard Jeremy Lin. It was only displayed on ESPN's mobile site for 35 minutes, but readers captured it via Twitter and Instagram. The sports entertainment company fired him and issued an apology. Lin doesn’t seem to hold a grudge against him. “[You] have to learn to forgive,” he said after a game last year. “And I don’t think that was intentional, or hopefully not.”

4. A Soccer Player’s Perfect Response

In a January 2013 match, soccer fans taunted AZ Alkmaar’s Jozy Altidor with monkey chants. The home team, Den Bosch, issued an apology. Altidor responded cordially. “I feel like I have an obligation as a football player, to my club, to my family, to not react to things like this and to show the club stands better than that,” said Altidore, according to The Daily Mail. “[T]hat I was raised better than to respond to such ridiculous behavior.”

5. ‘Hands Up, Don’t Shoot’

Athletes respond to racism outside the game too. In the aftermath of a grand ury’s decision not to indict the officer who killed Michael Brown in November, players of the NFL’s St. Louis Rams displayed a quiet sign of protest. Before a match on Nov. 30, Stedman Bailey, Tavon Austin, Jared Cook, Chris Givens, and Kenny Britt held up their arms in the “hands up, don’t shoot position,” a gesture that had been the rallying cry of protesters against police brutality across the country. Though some people found their behavior offensive, the NFL didn't impose any disciplinary action. A similar act by African-American sprinters Tommie Smith and John Carlos in the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City wasn't met with the same leniency: When they bowed their heads and raised their fists in protest of inequality back home on a medal podium, they received death threats and the U.S. team suspended them.

Original article from TakePart