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Top 10 Worst Racist Incidents In Sports

Script written by Nathan Sharp

These incidents of racism against athletes and in sport is simply unbelievable. From Yuli Gurriel making Asian eyes, to Joel Ward’s Goal, to the Luis Suárez racial abuse incident, these are some of the most racist moments in sports history. WatchMojo counts down ten worst racist incidents in sports.


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Script written by Nathan Sharp

Top 10 Worst Racist Incidents In Sports

Well, that was uncalled for. Welcome to, and today we’re counting down our picks for the top 10 worst racist incidents in sports.

For this list, we’re looking at episodes throughout sports history where someone showed prejudice to someone else based on their race. Keep in mind that these incidents aren’t necessarily things that happened at a sporting event – if it happened within the world of sports, it will be considered.

#10: Kelly Tilghman Is Suspended and Dave Seanor Fired

Lynching is no laughing matter, but Kelly Tilghman unfortunately needed a refresher. During a telecast, PGA anchor Nick Faldo joked about golfers ganging up on Tiger Woods. Playing along, Tilghman responded, “Lynch him in the back alley!” Faldo was clearly taken aback, as were Tilghman’s superiors, who suspended her for two weeks. In response, Golfweek ran an article about the controversy, with that issue’s cover depicting a hanging noose. This cover also caused controversy and resulted in the termination of the magazine’s editor Dave Seanor. Sadly, this wasn’t even the first time Tiger Woods was the target of racism: remember when Fuzzy Zoeller said that Woods shouldn’t serve fried chicken at the Masters dinner?

#9: Yuli Gurriel Makes Asian Eyes

Oops. You didn’t mean for the cameras to pick that up, didja? During Game 3 of the 2017 World Series, Houston Astros batter Yuri Gurriel hit a home run against Japanese pitcher Yu Darvish. After returning to the dugout, Gurriel mockingly stretched his eyes with his fingers and called Darvish a “chinito,” which means “little Chinese boy” in Spanish. As a result, Gurriel received a five game suspension for the 2018 season, although he was allowed to continue playing in the World Series. In fact, Gurriel played against Darvish again during Game 7, where he tipped his helmet to the pitcher in a sign of respect and apology.

#8: Joel Ward’s Goal

Some people take their hockey a bit too seriously. Black player Joel Ward scored the game-winning goal in Game 7 of the 2012 Eastern Conference quarterfinals against the Boston Bruins, eliminating the Bruins from the playoffs. As you can imagine, Boston fans were none too happy and took to Twitter to publicly attack Ward, with many calling him the n-word. This caused many of Ward’s defenders to publicly unveil the racist posters’ names and addresses. Two years later, Boston fans would do the exact same thing to Montreal Canadiens player P.K. Subban after he scored the game-winning goal in double overtime of Game 7 to end the Bruins’ season in the second round.

#7: The Luis Suárez Racial Abuse Incident

The controversial Luis Suárez incident took place in 2011 at a game between Liverpool F.C. and Manchester United. During the game, Suárez fouled Manchester United’s Patrice Evra, which caused a confrontation. Evra then said that Suárez had used racial terms during the argument, a claim which Suárez immediately denied. On December 20, the football commission found Suárez guilty of using “insulting words with a reference to Mr. Evra’s color” and suspended him for eight games. Liverpool and its fans defended Suárez, calling the commission’s ruling subjective and Evra’s account unsubstantiated. Suárez continues to deny the allegations to this day.

#6: Don Lewis Tries to Start an All-White Basketball League

In January 2010, a man named Don “Moose” Lewis tried to start the All-American Basketball Alliance. The AABA would contain all-white teams, and the players must be “natural-born United States citizens.” Clint Bryant, the athletic director of Augusta State University, summed it up when he said, Sp-Top10-Worst-Racist-Incidents-In-Sports_S9R0V3
“[This] gives you an idea of the sickness of our society,” and NBA all-star Charles Barkley said the very idea of the league was “blatantly racist.” Nothing ever came of the AABA, mostly because no city wanted anything to do it.

#5: Floyd Mayweather Attacks Manny Pacquiao

After talks began about a possible Mayweather/Pacquiao bout, Floyd Mayweather took to Ustream to unleash a racist rant aimed at Filipino boxer Manny Pacquiao. In the video, he said, “I’ll make that mother****** make me a sushi roll and cook me some rice” and, “We’re going to cook that mother****** with cats and dogs.” Mayweather was immediately condemned for his statements, causing him to apologize the very next day. He stated, “I don’t have a racist bone in my body…I was just having fun.” Nevertheless, the rant didn’t go over well with boxing fans.

#4: Some Nappy-Headed Hoes

Radio host Don Imus is known for controversial statements. While discussing the NCAA Women’s Basketball Championship, Imus laughed along with his producer and called the players “some nappy-headed hoes.” Public outrage was instantaneous, and Imus defended himself by declaring that the term originated within the black community and saying that it is his job to be funny, although he later said that he went too far. Several sponsors pulled themselves from Imus’ radio show, “Imus in the Morning,” and CBS Radio soon cancelled the show entirely.

#3: Donald Sterling Is Banned for Life

Donald Sterling became the owner of the Los Angeles Clippers in 1981, but in April 2014, he was permanently banned from the NBA due to racist remarks. Not suspended, not fired, BANNED. It all started when TMZ released a private phone conversation between Sterling and his mistress. The conversation begins with Sterling expressing disappointment that she took a picture with black ex-basketball player Magic Johnson, and it all snowballs from there. He then states, “It bothers me a lot that you want to broadcast that you’re associating with black people” before asking her not to bring “them” to his team’s basketball games. NBA commissioner Adam Silver banned Sterling from the NBA and fined him $2.5 million for the remarks.

#2: Jackie Robinson’s Career

Being an African American in the 1940s was not easy. Being the first black MLB player of the modern era was almost impossible. While Robinson is now deeply respected, that was not the case in 1947, when he started at first base for the Brooklyn Dodgers. Despite being showered with accolades, Robinson’s life within the MLB was a struggle. Some of his own teammates objected to Robinson’s inclusion by threatening to sit out if he played, and other teams threatened to strike. Robinson was similarly attacked on the field, with opposing players and managers physically assaulting him and calling him the n-word. Despite all the abuse, Robinson kept playing, and playing well.

Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few dishonorable mentions.
- “Ewing Is an Ape” Sign
- Shaquille O’Neal Has Something to Say to Yao Ming
- Jason Whitlock Perpetuates Asian Stereotypes

#1: The Entire 1936 Summer Olympics

The 1936 Summer Olympics took place in Nazi Germany. Berlin won the hosting duties in 1931, but Hitler and his Nazis rose to power two years later, creating an Olympic atmosphere rife with racism and anti-Semitism. Hitler was optimistic that these games would prove his belief in Aryan racial superiority, and even tried to ban Jews and black athletes from competing in the games. However, he soon relented after other countries threatened to pull out. Despite this, Berlin was still covered in swastika banners, and the Nazi salute was a common sight in the city. World War II began 3 years later.

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