Racism in sports gets the spotlight after Arwind Santos’ racist gesture toward TNT import Terrence Jones

August 15, 2019 - 7:20 PM
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Arwind Santos
Arwind Santos (Philstar.com/file)

Racial discrimination was a hot topic in social media after San Miguel Beerman forward Arwind Santos made monkey gestures against TNT KaTropa import Terrence Jones during Game Five of the PBA Commissioner’s Cup Finals on August 15.

Santos later apologized to Jones via a video on Twitter following widespread criticisms from PBA fans. He was also slapped with a Php200,000 fine by the PBA and asked to render 100 hours of community service.

The racist incident happened during the first half of Game Five when Santos was caught on camera mimicking a monkey at Jones, who was whistled for a foul.

Santos gathered further public outrage when he did not apologize for it.

“Magso-sorry ako? Hindi, kasi depende yun sa kanya. Kung mapipikon siya, totoong monkey siya,” he said in an interview.

These actions soon reached Jones, who then took to social media to vent his ire. He also urged the PBA to send a “strong message” that racism in sports should not be tolerated.

“As a father and black man this can’t be ignored. It’s UNACCEPTABLE. Swift, significant action needs to be taken by the PBA to send a STRONG message that racism in ANY form will NOT be tolerated,” he said.

The former Houston Rockets player also made a lengthier statement on Instagram.

“My son is of Filipino descent. I cannot and will not tolerate racial slurs and gestures. They’re not only disrespectful to me but to my family and my race,” he said.

“This wasn’t a case of ‘mind games’ in an athletic competition—it was racism,” he added.

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I don’t normally post responses to negative things said about me – but as a father and a black man, this can’t be ignored. I came to the PBA to play – and to share my talent – in a country where I have tremendous respect for its culture and its people. My son is of Filipino descent. I cannot and will not tolerate racial slurs and gestures. They’re not only disrespectful to me but to my family and my race. I teach my son to be proud of who he is and to be respectful of all. This wasn’t a case of “mind games” in an athletic competition – it was racism. Period. Swift, significant action needs to be taken by the PBA to send a STRONG, clear message that racism in any form is UNACCEPTABLE will NOT be tolerated. (To read the story, click on the link in my bio⬆️)

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Santos later changed his tune and apologized to Jones via a video on Twitter.

“Gusto ko humingi ng taos-pusog patawad sa mga fans ng Talk n Text, San Miguel, PBA at sa lahat ng mga nasaktan. Wala po akong masamang intensiyon. Inaamin ko po, mali po ako. Sorry po. Sana mapatawad niyo po ako,” he said.

Aside from paying the fine and rendering community service, Santos will be undergoing seminar and counselling on equality and racial discrimination, the PBA added.

Racism in sports

Previous incidents of racist behavior among writers, commentators and fellow athletes have also made headlines in other parts of the world.

In 2012, US-based sports channel ESPN immediately fired its writer for an offensive headline “Chink in the armor” and suspended the TV anchor that used the same ethnic slur.

The headline was about American-Taiwanese basketball sensation Jeremy Lin, whose team New York Knicks then lost to the New Orleans Hornets.

In 2017, ESPN fired tennis commentator Doug Adler, who was accused of likening Venus Williams to a “gorilla” during one of her matches in the Australian Open.

Adler later sued the network for wrongful termination as he was referring to Williams’ techniques as in “gorilla tactics” rather than comparing her to an animal.

There are also many similar events in Philippine sports.

Santos’ teammate Chris Ross accused NLEX head coach Yeng Guiao of uttering a racist remark against him. Both parties were penalized by the PBA.

In 2014, a staff member of PBA D-League team Cagayan Valley reportedly imitated animal actions to taunt NLEX big man Ola Adeogun.