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The Hoddle of Coffee: Tottenham Hotspur news and links for Wednesday, July 1

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Stereotypes while commentating

Tottenham Hotspur Training Session Photo by Tottenham Hotspur FC/Tottenham Hotspur FC via Getty Images

Hi, everyone.

Today’s Hoddle is partly inspired by an article someone shared the other day, and that study that made the rounds yesterday.

Ramble of the Day

I wrote about commentators stereotyping Black players a couple of weeks ago when Crystal Dunn spotlighted the issue, and a couple of different pieces have come out since that has brought appropriate attention to the issue once again. One is a study that I linked to in yesterday’s Hoddle done by Danish research firm RunRepeat that found that English-speaking commentators tend to describe lighter skinned players as smart while darker skinned players are described as physical. Here are some of the findings (from The Guardian):

RunRepeat ratio-adjusted its numbers to account for the fact there were 1,361 comments about lighter-skinned players and 713 about darker-skinned players and found the former group more widely praised for intelligence (62.60%), hard work (60.40%) and quality (62.79%). Commentators are also 6.59 times more likely to talk about the power of a player if he has darker skin and 3.38 times more likely to reference his pace.

Another is a piece from Boston-based public radio station WBUR, which discusses the issue in the world of American college basketball. Both pieces feature the voices of researchers — in the WBUR piece, Karen Given speaks to Dr. Rashawn Ray and Dr. Steven Foy. I find their work to be important in augmenting the point so many have made about commentators stereotyping athletes. One of the reasons I recommend both The Guardian’s writeup of RunRepeat’s study and the WBUR piece is because the researchers outline the meticulous nature of their work — listening and transcribing to thousands of games was involved.

The WBUR piece does a nice job of outlining specific words commentators use — “crafty” for lighter skinned players, and “sneaky” for darker skinned players is the main example. The piece also shares the impact of that form of discrimination:

“If you look at white players as more intelligent or more imbued with intelligence than Black players, who are you going to give the jobs for in coaching and general manager to when they retire?” asks journalist Derrick Z. Jackson.

Jackson says these stereotypes play out when Black people apply for other jobs, too.

“And that, ultimately, has massively damaging effects across all of American society,” Jackson says. “There probably is not a Black man alive today who has not, at one point or another, been asked if they’re an athlete. It’s as if we can do nothing else, but catch a ball or dunk it or run around a track.”

I think the two pieces make their points very succinctly, but I will add to it what I did when I discussed Dunn’s statement — we need to recognize these stereotypes, and really stop using them. I am glad the PFA has, like Dunn, has asked media to be more cognizant of this, and I hope they take that call seriously.

Links of the Day

The men’s Africa Cup of Nations was pushed from 2021 to 2022, while the 2020 women’s edition was canceled.

The Premier League offered the FA WSL and Championship £1 million to cover COVID-19 testing costs so they can resume play next season.

Sol Campbell left Southend after the club was relegated.

The FA will make 124 positions redundant, citing losses because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Former U.S. international Lauren Holiday wrote about her White privilege even as the wife of a Black man and mother of a Black daughter for The Players’ Tribune.

David Squires covers Liverpool’s first title win in 30 years in his latest cartoon.

A longer read: Jim Daly ranks the 101 best kits for ESPN