NFL Vows to Finally Stop Practicing Race Norming


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Here is yet another example of how leftist attitudes toward black Americans inevitably result in policies ostensibly designed to help but end up causing more harm. The NFL, which has jumped on the corporate woke virtue-signaling train, recently declared that it would prohibit the practice of “race norming,” an approach that uses racist ideas to avoid paying settlements to its black players.


The decision raises two critical questions. First, why did it take the NFL so long to abolish the practice? Second, why is this not getting more attention from the activist media, which claim to be champions for the black community amid the recent prevalence of conversations on race in America?

NFL Promises to Ban Racist Policy

The Associated Press reported that the NFL vowed to cease the use of race norming, a practice in which black players are considered to have lower cognitive function than white players. The decision comes in the face of a lawsuit against the league filed by two black athletes and growing concerns from medical experts.

According to the AP:

“Senior U.S. District Judge Anita B. Brody later took the unusual step of asking for a report on the issue. Black retirees hope it will include a breakdown of the nearly $800 million in payouts so far by race. They fear the data will never come to light.”

Former Washington running back Ken Jenkins said: “Words are cheap. Let’s see what they do.”

The NFL stated that a panel of neuropsychologists has been formed to put forth another testing methodology to assess injuries sustained by football players. This group will include two female and three black doctors.

NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy released a statement that explained: “The replacement norms will be applied prospectively and retrospectively for those players who otherwise would have qualified for an award but for the application of race-based norms.”

What Is Race Norming?

Race norming is a practice used by the NFL for decades, but it is not as well known as other examples of racism typically highlighted by the press. Perhaps a look into the history of the issue might shed some light on why media activists and high-profile leftists have largely ignored the subject.

The Nation explained that race norming “harkens back 40 years, when aptitude scores, as a part of federal jobs’ applications, were adjusted to account for the race and ethnicity of the person taking the test. It was an admission that these tests were in fact racially biased.”

The practice was first used by President Jimmy Carter’s administration and was “further implemented and extended” by President Ronald Reagan in 1981. It was later rescinded by President George H.W. Bush in 1991. The original purpose was to offset racial bias in aptitude tests.

The NFL began implementing its own version of race norming when deciding whether black football players suffered cognitive problems due to injuries sustained on the field. Under race norming, doctors examining these athletes started with the premise that black players, in particular, were already cognitively impaired before sustaining injuries. Therefore, these individuals’ cognitive issues were likely not caused by the sport but by the notion that black people’s cognitive skills are inherently inferior.

According to The Nation:

“[Former NFL players Kevin] Henry and [Najeh] Davenport’s lawsuit has contended that if white, they would have received their share of the settlement, but were shut out because of the 19th century logic that, as Black people, their cognitive functioning was probably already impaired before they ever took the field. This contention wasn’t first made by Henry and Davenport. It was the clinicians who evaluate the former players for compensatory damages who blew the whistle. They are the ones who feel hamstrung by the ‘race norming’ barometers set forth and have admitted to one another that they are implementing a discriminatory process.”

Why No Fuss?

One would think that an organization that employs a high number of black Americans would come under increased scrutiny for its continued use of a brazenly racist policy. The fact that this practice was explicitly used to prevent black players from receiving the same type of payouts as white players should also be infuriating and, at the very least, useful for virtue-signaling progressives.

But, so far, only a few activist media outlets have bothered to inform the American public of this story. An explanation for this apparent failure can be seen in the history of the practice: It was created under the Carter administration and is yet another example of a liberal policy gone wrong.

Lowering standards for black Americans opened up a new opportunity for an organization to use a racist policy to discriminate. It also further demonstrates that the best way to benefit the black community is to focus on uplifting African Americans instead of lowering standards.


Read more from Jeff Charles.

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