Class Year


Document Type

Student Research Paper

Date of Creation

Fall 2018

Department 1

Africana Studies

Department 2



In the world of high level sports, it is everywhere you look. When you watch sports on television it is obvious. It is on the sideline and in the announcer’s voice. There are many objective examples that support what you are seeing and hearing, but are these examples just a coincidence? It is the reason Larry Bird is known for his cunning and witty characteristics on the basketball court and the same reason Michael Vick became known as a great quarterback for his foot speed rather than ability to read the defense. The “it” I am referring to is the social construct that depicts black athletes as physical specimens with natural ability and white athletes as witty and hardworking. The success of black athletes is often undermined by the notion that much of their ability comes naturally to them, and this ability allows them to overcome their lack of IQ within their given sport. White athletes are praised for having great leadership ability and being extremely hardworking. The notorious phrase associated with this social construct is, “White men can’t jump.” This paper will point out some of the areas in sports we see this construct, why we are conditioned to view black and white athletes this way, and the implications of it all.


Written for AFS 250: Black Bodies in American Sporting.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.