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Sport Mirrors Society and Life

Cal Poly San Luis Obispo has seen a rash of racial incidents, including photos that circulated this month of a white fraternity member wearing blackface and others dressed as gang members. In response, the university last week suspended fraternities and sororities indefinitely. Photo: Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times

By Fred Cromartie, Ed.D. |

When we see things such as the recent cases of deviant behavior with “blackface,” some have rationalized the incidents as being isolated and unfortunate. They even say “what’s the harm, nobody was hurt, and people are being far too sensitive and politically correct.”  The most recent incident of “blackface” occurred this past Wednesday at a high school in Milwaukee, Wisc

It is said that sport is a microcosm of society and mirrors life. According to Eitzen (2015) “focusing on sport is simply such a technique for understanding the complexities of the larger society” (p12). Sports are an important part of cultures and societies world-wide, with people of all ages connecting with each other through sport.

“Blackface” is deviant behavior and has emerged on the national scene with media attention shining a light on the State of Virginia, where state media discovered old photos of high ranking officials wearing “blackface” in college yearbooks. We have also had media attention of the same in Florida and elsewhere.  College campuses are also dealing and addressing the issue as it continues to occur on campuses.

Let me provide you, the reader, some context and history of “blackface” in the United States. I do so because we ave the act of the deviant behavior trickling down to the high school level.  We have had incidents occur in Minnesota, Kentucky, Wisconsin, and Nebraska.

Please take a moment to look and read this link where you are provided the history of Blackface.  May your perspective concerning the behavior be enlightened?

The following sources contributed to the writing of this article.

Eitzen, D.S. (2015). Sport in contemporary society: An anthology (10th ed.). Boulder, CO:

Paradigm Publishers.



Dr. Fred Cromartie is the Director of Doctoral Studies at the United States Sports Academy.

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