NBA Ref Racial Bias Redux

A few years ago, Wharton economist and Freakonomics contributor Justin Wolfers, along with co-author Joseph Price, published a paper alleging implicit bias among NBA referees. The paper kicked up a strong controversy, prompting fierce denials from the NBA. With this month’s publication of the paper in The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Henry Abbott revisits both the paper’s conclusions and the NBA’s response. “If you think about how Jackie Robinson was treated; we don’t treat black players like that anymore,” says Price. “We’ve gotten rid of a lot of those issues. We’ve gotten rid of explicit racial bias. But what’s potentially harder to get rid of is the implicit stereotypes that we all carry inside.” [%comments]


The implicit stereotype we all carry inside is strongly entrenched in Canada. Canada has the image around the world of fairness and multiculturalism, but a series of books on racism published by over the years by University of Toronto Press shows that racism is deeply entrenched in Canada, especially against Native Indians, and Blacks, both Immigrants and the descendants of Canadian Slaves in the Atlantic provinces such as Nova Scotia. It is surprising that the New York Times always had a Bureau in Canada, but has never written any articles about this subject. Canada does a lot of window dressing about racism, such appointing a Black Female Immigrant ad Governor General (the Representative of Queen Elizabeth II). But in government, business and major institutions, there are virtually NO black Canadians in senior positions although the excellent universities in Canada graduate hundreds of black Canadians every year. None of the Canadian TV networks have any black Canadians in senior positions. For many years, the government CBC-TV network had only two black producers. One Went to Hollywood and had a successful career, the other was fired with no reason given, although he was supposed to be a producer and director of outstanding documentaries. He tried very hard to get re=hired, but ended up going to Hollywood where he had a successful career. He was later fired by a expatriate Canadian from his Hollywood job, and paid compensation money.

So Americans, at least you admit there is a racism problem, and try to fix it. Canadians live in denial, and impose hardship on even well education black Canadian citizens and immigrants such as many of my friends in Toronto.


Brian Bailey

You are correct in that there are still many people who harbour such biases in Canada. Having lived abroad in a completely different culture for many years I would also state that this is true of many people in all countries and within all races. Human beings are not so different. No race is better than another race and conversely, no race is without racism. Racism will only disappear through education and interaction which means lots of travel and communication internationally. I would like to see it mandatory for all politicians to spend at least one year living in a foreign country in a different continent before being allowed to run for the federal government. This would eliminate a good percentage of idiots.


If I remember right the study showed that white refs were biased about 1% to 2% in favor of white players. But black res were biased towards black players by the same 1% to 2%. It this is the extent of our bias as a nation then we are pretty near perfect. Good for us.