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banner_eryn_newIssue: Gabby Douglas now has an individual all-around gold medal in women’s Olympic gymnastics to go with the team gold she won with her U.S. teammates. The 16-year-old Douglas becomes the 4th American gymnast and first African-American gymnast to win the Olympic all-around competition, but she also stands out because of her race.

 

The only black gymnast on this year’s U.S. women’s team, she is one of only a few black gymnasts to ever represent the U.S. in Olympics competition. According to Professor Rob Ruck, a sports historian at the University of Pittsburgh who has written extensively about why certain sports flourish in certain communities and not others, there are three factors that dictate which “sport takes on significance within a community of people.” First, “A set of environmental and class, or socioeconomic factors. Second, when the sport provides certain tangible and material rewards, benefits and opportunities. The third is when a particular sport has acquired a deeply rooted historic meaning to people.” When asked to identify the single greatest obstacle to greater racial diversity in the sport of gymnastics, Wendy Hilliard, the first African-American on the U.S. Rhythmic Gymnastics National Team, said one word: “cost.” The other great obstacle to increasing diversity in sports in which minorities are traditionally underrepresented: “exposure.”

Question: Why do you think there is a dearth of diversity in so many Olympic sports?

 

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Sommone Webber

I think the biggest issue is money. It takes not only talent, but a whole lot of time, money and support to get to the Olympics, which lots of African-American kids are lacking.

 

 

v33_buzz_hillMorgan Hill

Black children living in difficult circumstances, which unfortunately is far more likely than children of other races, who have the physical ability and drive to excel at sports just aren’t going to pick fencing or rowing as their focus. They want to be like the people they see on TV.

 

 

v33_buzz_grayJalyn Gray

I would like to think we are sending our best to the Olympics, but the sad truth is many people never have the exposure or a chance to excel at many Olympics sports. I think exposure, or lack thereof is the biggest obstacle to diversity in so many Olympic sports.

 

 

v33_buzz_haynesBritney Haynes

I love many aspects of the Olympics, but one of the most exciting parts is to see people like me. I love seeing Gabby and the other African-American competitors, but for most young black children, you’re going to pick a sport that offers more fame and financial reward, which in the U.S. means sports like basketball and football.

 

 

 

 

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