Memphis — Twenty-five years after Martin Luther King Jr.’s life was first honored with a national holiday and nearly 50 years after the civil rights leader’s “I Have a Dream” speech, black and white sports fans alike view the sports world as far more racially progressive and unifying than the rest of society, according to a recent online survey conducted for ESPN.
However, there remains a strong racial divide among those fans about the extent to which African-Americans enjoy equal opportunities in sports, as well as about the degrees of prejudice and discrimination that continue to pervade the sports landscape.
Eighty-two percent of those surveyed believe that sports provide equal opportunities for African-Americans, compared with 55 percent who think the same is true in all other sectors of society. Of those surveyed, 73 percent give a very high rating to the sports world in terms of equal opportunities, in contrast to only 19 percent who give a very high rating to the corporate world.
As well, 72 percent believe sports do more to unite people across racial lines, while only 6 percent think sports do more to divide race relations.