The basis for this New York Magazine piece on the different way broadcasters describe black athletes and white athletes is college basketball, but it’s every bit as applicable to baseball too. Whites are described as hard workers — and their hard work is often specifically described — blacks are assumed to be naturally gifted and athletic and their hard work is often overlooked.
And it’s not out of animus or bigotry. It just happens because it has always happened that way:
The situation is far better than it was three or four decades ago, when announcers would liken the skills of black players to animals. Today, they have some awareness of racial stereotyping. What’s left, I think, is far more characteristic of how racial bias typically works. Bad intent does not come into play. White people simply have certain preconceptions, and preconceptions make you see the things you expect to see and miss the things you don’t.
I agree with all of that, with the possible exception of likening the skills of black players to animals. That still happens:
I don’t care if Vin Scully is the one who coined “Wild Horse” for Puig. It still falls into this rubric of attributing the exploits of some players to some beastly, untamed quality that is so often used as a placeholder for otherness that we don’t too closely examine.