Earlier this week, SRtRC President Shaka Hislop, spoke with final year sports media students at Northumbria University, drawing from his experience as a former professional premier league football player and currently an ESPN football pundit and analyst, based in the U.S.
Shaka explored the story of his own journey in the transition from professional sports to media as well as the issues of discrimination and ethics in media practice. Highlighting the disparities between which white players and black players are reported on in the media, how stories are framed and the importance of wording.
Further to discussing the relationship between media and sports, Shaka also explained the importance of media’s role in wider society and the impacts and influence this can have in regards to racism, stating: “as journalists we have a responsibility to paint more accurate pictures of [marginalised] communities in sports media.”
On the question of progress, Shaka believes there has been progress and where before there was “a certain sense of complacency, particularly around football and football stadiums”, he feels there has been a change in the level of awareness around issues and that people are no longer willing to accept simply being part of a silent majority but are now willing to speak up.
“The greatest enemy of change and progress is complacency.” – Shaka
“While there has been significant progress made, I think what we recognise from 2020 more than maybe we had done since probably the Martin Luther King, Civil rights era of the 1960’s, is how much further there still is to go.”
Expanding on the question of change and progress, Shaka spoke to the juxtaposition of how football and football stadiums have become far more vocal and aware, particularly since the resurgence of BLM in 2020 but also the backlash against players taking the knee particularly during the Euro’s in which the government refused to condemn those booing and the finals in which we saw an avalanche of racist abuse against black England players.
Shaka went on to answer questions from the students, touching on topics such as the Rooney rule and representation in coaching to the impacts of social media and mental health as well as advice on what to do if the students themselves directly witness or experience racism in the workplace.
Daisy Campbell, Associate Lecturer at Northumbria University said:
“We were delighted to have Shaka Hislop talk to our third year Sports Media and Society students at Northumbria University. Shaka’s experiences as a professional footballer, as well as his work in the sports media and with Show Racism the Red Card provided our students with invaluable insights and advice that they can take with them to their future careers.”