nt throughout the majority of aspects in American society whether it be in the workforce, schools, or sports. Each sport is marked by its own stereotypes that affect the racial composition within the sport. Even internally, racial segregation can dictate which players play which position.
Football is a prime example of this segregation. 70 percent of football players are African American. However, a majority of the quarterbacks are white. Some have theorized that this is because of the “black athlete stereotype,” which is the idea that African Americans are better at sports. The quarterback in football is seen as a more intellectually rigorous position, owing to the fact that the quarterback makes strategic choices on the field.
This problem continues to Berkeley High School (BHS). According to the BHS athletic directors, Ross Parker and Robin Van der Vegt, certain sports tend to be popular with “some kids” rather than others. Indeed, when it comes to the BHS frisbee team, over 100 kids participate, but there is only a handful of students of color. Samuel Saxe-Taller, a junior at BHS and a member of the BHS frisbee team notes that the historical whiteness of the sport might lead to the impression that people of color are less welcome.“This is an example of the de facto racial segregation that happens at Berkeley High as a result of racism and oppression in general,” said Saxe-Taller.
Yet not all sports at BHS have the same issue with segregation. During an interview with the Athletic Directors, one of them mentioned that the Berkeley High wrestling is diverse not just in terms of race but also in terms of gender. For Avery Champlin, both aspects of the team are important.
“The wrestling team is very racially diverse, and the girls captains from the last two years made a huge effort to get girls to join, so the girls team is growing quite a bit,” said Champlin. “There are way more boys than girls but there’s never any stigma surrounding gender.”
As for why wrestling is able to achieve a more diverse community of athletes as opposed to other sports at BHS may be a result of recruitment policies. According to Erin Schweng, the principal of BHS, many of the people going into BHS know what sport they are going to play well before they join the team. Wrestling, however, is not as widely played in middle schools and therefore may rely more on participants to be recruited onto the team. Champlin says that recruitment is extended to “anyone and everyone, regardless of race or gender.” Additionally, according to Champlin, the wrestling team doesn’t hold tryouts and everyone is welcome to join. This may take out barriers presented by access to training equipment and allows everyone to be on the team.
While not all sports can allow everyone who tries out to get on the team, the athletic directors are trying to emulate some aspects of the welcoming environment and recruitment of diverse communities of the wrestling team.
“We promote sports to all students and try to reach as many with the messaging as we can,” said Parker and Vegt. “We also have teams that are accessible to all students and coaches who are welcoming to the students that come to try out for their teams.”