It's easy to imagine sports commentators have moved on from the sort of offensive comments that received widespread attention in the 1980s. But AI analysis shows how an old bias endures in language differencesby Jenny McCall / January 28, 2020 / Leave a comment
There is a popular sentiment that “fairness” is inexorably subjective and incapable of being determined by objective standards.
Similarly, when it comes to sports commentary, one would think that the protagonists’ analysis will be based purely on the state of play taking place on the pitch, field or court—but that’s simply not the case.
Sports pundits have been known to exert racial bias and its impact is very damaging. Racial bias in sport can cause a negative picture to be painted of a particular athlete and may mean they don’t get selected to play for certain teams.
In 1988, Jimmy “The Greek” Snyder, a CBS lead pundit, famously attributed a black athlete’s “superior” talents to the legacy of American slavery:
Snyder believed that black people were superior when it comes to sports. Physically they overpowered their non-black teammates and competitors. “They’ve [blacks] got everything,” he said. “If they take over coaching like everybody wants them to, there’s not going to be anything left for white people.”
This controversy forced CBS to sever ties with Snyder—and also put pressure on other sports commentators to choose their words wisely and try to comment without bias.
A new era?
Snyder made his remarks over 30 years ago and since then, the world of sports has evolved somewhat. But stereotyping and bias are still very much at large—and research proves it.
We know that technology such as facial recognition and Artificial Intelligence (AI) has the potential to be racially motivated, primarily down to the algorithms that are inputted into the system. As computer scientist Aylin Caliskan said, “The machines learn from their creators—us.”
But how about those same systems being…