Ohio State fell just short of finishing a remarkable comeback on the road at Michigan State in Big Ten action, losing in overtime after trailing by 17 at one point midway through the second half. One of the key plays in the comeback was senior point guard Aaron Craft diving on the floor for a loose ball to save a possession.
Craft is polarizing, only in the sense that he fulfills all the stereotypes that exist about white athletes. The hype and fawning around the perceived value of those stereotypes only increase the polarization. Nobody ever talks about Craft's natural talent or athletic ability – the consensus is he only gets by on pure scrappiness and fundamentals and being a "lunch pail guy" as if anyone actually still carries those around these days.
These crutches and code words are common in the sports world, where a player's race all too often decides what kind of player he or she will be. It's not exclusive to American sports either. You're never going to hear Pro Bowl DE Cameron Jordan complimented with having a high motor, but that's seemingly the only phrase that is allowed to describe J.J. Watt. Another good example came in the Wild Card Playoffs on the weekend when Mike Mayock called Chiefs QB Alex Smith "sneaky athletic" even though he had over 1,000 rushing yards at Utah and had one of the most notable TD runs by a QB in playoff history. He's not "sneaky" athletic at all. He's just athletic.
We want you, the reader, to be smarter than that and not shackled by this narrow minded practice. With that in mind, here's the top White Guy Code Words to look out for so that you can avoid using them only for white athletes and be more progressive in your sports fandom. Case in point, I think all of these have been used to describe Dustin Pedroia.
2) High motor
4) Sneaky athletic
7) High ___ IQ
8) Good fundamentals
9) Plays the game the right way
10) Lunch pail guy
11) Heady and/or cerebral
12) Deceptive speed
13) Gym rat
15) Gets the most out of his abilities
16) Has a lot of heart
19) Someone you’d love your daughter to date
20) David Eckstein
And we have a few submissions from an expert on this subject, Paul Pabst of The Dan Patrick Show…
21) Wes Welker type
22) Coach's son
23) Faster than he appears