UNITED STATES. Rochester, New York. Carrington Hayward, a 17 year old, has been competitively bowling since she was nine. Carrington is a quiet black woman who has grown up in the city of Rochester. Rochester boasts of cultural and racial diversity with over 40% of the population identifying as black. Despite the demographic, racism is still prevalent and can have serious repercussions for racial minorities.
Racism in sports
At nine years old, Carrington started bowling and immediately faced racism from other bowlers and parents. In an interview with Transcontinental Times, she says that although the racism often stemmed from other teams, she still dealt with dirty looks, cultural appropriation, and shallow friendships from those around her. During Saturday morning bowling and tournaments, these actions were often more prevalent.
In grade seven, she started bowling for her school team. Being that she is in a city school means that there is more diversity on the school teams but this diversity is not always mirrored in other schools and their teams. On the high school team, she felt that when competing against suburban schools, the racial tension increased.
Many athletes feel the pressure of having the best equipment, being on the best team, and surrounding themselves with the best in their sport, but these expectations often prohibit the growth of those who cannot afford these luxuries. The association between racial minorities and poverty is not a coincidence, due to systemic racism, many minorities are provided fewer chances to excel. However, many people do not take into account the effect of racism on someone’s mental health. If monetary and time constraints do not prevent minority success, anxiety and depression due to racism might.
Carrington has grown up with her mom as her biggest supporter, and they have been able to overcome many of these obstacles. She has not quit, as some do, when faced with negative responses to her race or gender.
Females in bowling
Many Americans see bowling as a fun family activity to do in their spare time, but do not compete in the sport. In general, Carrington feels that female athletes are not receiving the same respect as their male counterparts. She has competed in other sports, such as swimming, volleyball, and softball but feels that the sexism is worse in bowling.
Although 46% of American bowlers are female, only a handful of these women become coaches. Bowling is still seen as a predominantly male sport despite quite a few outstanding women showcasing their talents both nationally and globally.
Carrington qualified for States in bowling this year but was worried about both the racism and sexism she may face at the competition. However, due to COVID-19, States was cancelled and she was unable to compete.
Her role model for bowling is her high school coach who has worked with her now for five years. She thinks that having a strong supporter and role model is key to her success and urges others to find those around them who will allow growth and provide positive feedback.
She said that with the recent Black Lives Matter movement (BLM), both locally and nationally, the racism has not gotten better despite awareness of their actions and words. Carrington has seen that some people have responded to BLM with indifference or used it as an excuse to be overtly racist. She is uncertain whether or not there has been a change due to BLM’s efforts. However, she hopes that the movement will have a positive global impact that may help her and other racial minorities.