Print Сite this

Sports and Race: The Road Towards the “Transracial Ideal”

Racial attitudes have always played a significant part in the way sports events are discussed and athletes are perceived in society. For the last decade, these perceptions have been gradually changing, and the concept of “transracial ideal” has emerged, which refers to people who are regarded as role models equally appealing to members of all races (Newman 72). As modern American society is moving towards equality, more media channels are striving to provide unbiased sports coverage, and athletes are perceived largely based on their personal qualities rather than race. The “transracial ideal” is attainable in 21st-century American sports because unbiased sports coverage and the perception of athletes based on their personality are becoming more widespread, as shown by the analysis of the media.

We will write a
custom essay
specifically for you

for only $16.05 $11/page
308 certified writers online
Learn More

There is a wide range of evidence from the real-life examples in modern sports practices which support the idea of the “transracial ideal” in the global arena and which generated a positive result in the sportsmen’s career in the global environment. Widener (15) outlines several examples of people who have succeeded in the international sports environment based on their traits and, at the same time, ignoring their demographic characteristics. This idea supports the globalization tendency where individuals are evaluated primarily based on their professional and personal characteristics rather than cultural or racial ones. For instance, the success of athletes like Bryant, Woods, and the Williams sisters is the result of the globalization approach which leads to promotion of “transracial ideal” (Widener, 15). Another example can be found among the European football and soccer teams which now have a mixed international membership.

The concept of “transracial ideal” was introduced by Roberta Newman in relation to marketing and advertising, with Derek Jeter being cited as the most prominent example of this trend. She defines the “transracial ideal” as an all-American marketing icon who does not represent any particular race and “can relate to everyone” (Newman 72). Derek Jeter was the first player of color to make a career in advertising, which emphasized his personal qualities and his image of a philanthropist, leader, and athlete. While focusing on marketing, Newman suggests that the concept of the “transracial ideal” can be expanded into politics and social life (77). In a broader sense, it can be defined as a public figure whose personal characteristics surpass the common racial prejudice and are equally appealing to people of all ethnic groups.

The road towards the transracial ideal in modern society has just begun, and the idea of race is still connected with a lot of prejudice. According to Alexander, although racial attitudes are no longer the norm in sports and are not tolerated, they still often “influence how sportswriters discuss issues involving race and ethnicity” (81). In the 2000s, the quarterbacks Michael Vick and Ben Roethlisberger were both implicated in violent criminal activity. In his analysis of the media portrayal of the two players, Coogan states that Michael Vick “received greater scrutiny and more unfavorable content” than Ben Roethlisberger because the former is black (129). However, this issue could also be explained by the personal characteristics of the two players, with Vick possessing the qualities that reinforced racial stereotypes (Coogan 138). Overall, the case illustrates that even in sports, the stories of race and crime are presented with a certain degree of bias, with greater emphasis placed on individuals who confirm stereotypes.

Referring to the case of Michael Vick, it is assumed that public reaction to the new record was predetermined by the publicly available information sources, primarily through the mass media such as television or radio. Coogan (129) state that public opinion is highly affected by social values and believes shared in the community. Wrongly accepted mutual association of race and criminal aspect was shared in the population during 1990’s that has significantly harmed the professional career of sportsmen who were differentiated from the majority based on the demographic characteristics. The evidence proposed by Coogan in the case analysis supports the assumption that people are strongly influenced by the mass communication channels which shape their mind and integrate particular ideas including the racial stereotypes.

The past years’ studies identify a wide range of demonstrations of racial diversification actively used by the sports media, referring to the sports commentators, journalists, and other social media workers. The majority of comments were based on the stereotypes and criticism of black sportsmen in comparison to the white ones due to the existing judgments and associations shared within the community. Coogan (132) highlights that these social attitudes regarding the demographic differences resulted in the noticeable active discrimination of professional sportsmen despite their traits and characteristics. Society used to give biological superiority depending on skin color and nationality, which now sounds ridiculous due to the globalization and internationalization approaches as well as the movements for equality in modern American society.

According to some resources, people tend to believe that racially distributed genetic ability for sports and further personal achievements depends on the racial identification of that individual. This summary is considered as the part of the established sociological believes shared by people based on the social division referring to both cultural and national criteria. Widener (16) proposes the assumption based on the academic opinion of other scholars that racial differentiation in sports can be eliminated with the help of acceptance and treatment of the race as a “social” contrast that does not identify the personality of an individual. However, since the mind of the population still exists under the influence of the external environment, the racial barrier can be supported by the wrongful social media influence, which affects social perception in any sector, including sports.

Get your
100% original paper
on any topic

done in as little as
3 hours
Learn More

Similarly, the public perception of athletes is partially shaped by the attitudes towards their race together with the evaluation of their personal qualities. When Barry Bonds broke the all-time home run record, sportswriters and fans did not embrace it, and the media response ranged from indifference to outright hostility (Alexander 80). As explained by Alexander, this was partially attributed to race prejudices and partially explained by his personality (87). Bonds was described by sports journalists as “a genuinely unpleasant human being, who reserves special hostility for the reporters charged with covering his exploits” (qtd. in Alexander 82). It can be concluded that for a person to become a “transracial ideal,” they need to both possess an appealing personality and overcome negative racial attitudes, which are still widespread in society.

In the analyzed video on the subject of racial bias, the Super Bowl matchup between quarterbacks Tom Brady and Patrick Mahomes is discussed and compared to Michael Jordan playing against LeBron in the NBA finals. Throughout the video, no racial framing devices are used, and, although players of different races are compared against each other, they are all presented in an equal manner. The reasons the commentators provide for comparison are not associated with race and refer exclusively to the facts, such as the age of players, number of awards won, career statistics, and the style of play (“The Brady vs. Mahomes Super Bowl”). Brady is compared to Michael Jordan, “the all-time great,” and Mahomes to LeBron James, “the heir to Jordan’s throne” (“The Brady vs. Mahomes Super Bowl” 00:00:18-00:00:21). Jordan and James are used as a transracial idea that younger players are compared to based on the similarities in their talent, popularity, and personal qualities rather than race. The video shows how equal coverage can be achieved on TV, with players being presented and judged equally and unbiasedly by commentators representing different racial groups.

Based on the analysis of the readings and the sports commentary racial bias observations, it can be concluded that 21st-century American sports are moving towards the “transracial ideal.” Although athletes are still often perceived based on racial stereotypes, and issues related to race and ethnicity are sometimes covered with a certain degree of bias, the situation is gradually changing towards equality. With TV channels striving towards unbiased coverage, athletes are more often perceived based on their personal qualities and professional achievements rather than race. Individual characteristics of a player become increasingly important, as only people who have an appealing personality and can overcome negative racial attitudes can be seen as a “transracial ideal.”


Alexander, Lisa Doris. “I’m the King of the World?: Barry Bonds and the ‘Race’ for the Record.” NINE: A Journal of Baseball History and Culture, vol. 17, no. 2, 2009, pp. 80–89.

Coogan, Dan. “Race and Crime in Sports Media: Content Analysis on the Michael Vick and Ben Roethlisberger Cases.” Journal of Sports Media, vol. 7, no. 2, 2012, pp. 129–151.

Newman, Roberta. “Driven: Branding Derek Jeter, Redefining Race.” NINE: A Journal of Baseball History and Culture, vol. 17, no. 2, 2009, pp. 70–79.

“The Brady vs. Mahomes Super Bowl is Like Jordan vs. Lebron in the NBA Finals – Greeny | Get Up.” YouTube. 2021. Web.

We will write a custom
for you!
Get your first paper with
15% OFF
Learn More

Widener, Daniel. “Race and Sport”. The Oxford Handbook of Sports History. Edited by Robert Edelman and Wayne Wilson. Oxford University Press, 2017.

Cite this paper

Select style


StudyCorgi. (2022, June 20). Sports and Race: The Road Towards the “Transracial Ideal”. Retrieved from


StudyCorgi. (2022, June 20). Sports and Race: The Road Towards the “Transracial Ideal”.

Work Cited

"Sports and Race: The Road Towards the “Transracial Ideal”." StudyCorgi, 20 June 2022,

* Hyperlink the URL after pasting it to your document

1. StudyCorgi. "Sports and Race: The Road Towards the “Transracial Ideal”." June 20, 2022.


StudyCorgi. "Sports and Race: The Road Towards the “Transracial Ideal”." June 20, 2022.


StudyCorgi. 2022. "Sports and Race: The Road Towards the “Transracial Ideal”." June 20, 2022.


StudyCorgi. (2022) 'Sports and Race: The Road Towards the “Transracial Ideal”'. 20 June.

This paper was written and submitted to our database by a student to assist your with your own studies. You are free to use it to write your own assignment, however you must reference it properly.

If you are the original creator of this paper and no longer wish to have it published on StudyCorgi, request the removal.