Skip to comments.Individual History Month Confronting the myth that a victory for one is a victory for all
Posted on 03/08/2007 8:57:37 PM PST by Antonio Ciaccia
In 2003, the NFL adopted a policy introduced by its diversity committee that aimed at increasing minority representation in head coaching positions. Named after its creator, Pittsburgh Steelers owner, Dan Rooney, the "Rooney Rule" requires teams to interview at least one minority candidate before filling head coaching vacancies.
Not only has minority coach representation increased from 2 to 6 since 2002, but this past month, for the first time ever, a black coach, Tony Dungy, won the Super Bowl. Analysts say that without the Rooney Rule, things like this would not happen. Following this, Rooney and his Steelers introduced Mike Tomlin as the first black head coach in Steelers history.
The Rooney Rule grants an interview to a minority for the sole reason that that person is not white. This is not dissimilar to affirmative action policies in businesses and schools in that it grants some benefit to an individual for the sole reason that that person is a minority.
Rather than go into a long tirade about how the premise of affirmative action is wrong because it places value on one's race rather than on one's mind, I'm going to guess that you've heard that one before. And while the policy of affirmative action warrants opposition to be sure, I would rather discuss another race-related problem that surfaced in discussions of the recent successes of black coaches; that is the false attribution of achievement.
In social psychology, attribution error occurs when an event occurs and an unrelated characteristic is overemphasized as a determining factor. A similar error occurs in racial discussion, where an unrelated characteristic is credited as having a role in an event when in fact, it did not.
With all of the current achievements of black coaches, praise cascades all over the sports world with columnists on prominent sports talk shows like ESPN's "Around the Horn" talking about how black coaches are the new "hot item" in the NFL.
Saying that a black coach is somehow a desired commodity implies that there is a distinction between what is a "black coach" and a "white coach." This irrational train of thought states that we are to believe that skin color dictates a person's knowledge, strategy, and philosophy. Anyone who has taken second grade science can tell you that the brain takes care of those functions. Thus, we are told that race can somehow be attributed to what kind of coach someone is when in reality, which is completely untrue.
Furthermore, false attribution comes into play again as black coaches who have not yet proven themselves are called a "hot item" simply because another individual member of their race has succeeded. The premise here is that if a member of a group succeeds at something without any help from unrelated people, then all of those unrelated members of that group also have the knowledge and ability to do the same. That is simply not the case.
And perhaps even worse is that sometimes the discussion doesn't even say that since one person did it, those unrelated people can too. Some just say that the victory of that one man is really a victory for all members of that group. Sorry, but millions of black people did not win the Super Bowl.
False attribution of achievement does not just occur in racial discussions, but they occur in sports as well. This is evidenced in the way fans have strong emotional attachments to their favorite teams. A Georgia State University study measured the testosterone levels of soccer fans before and after the 1994 World Cup. Fans of the winning team (Brazil) had testosterone levels increase 15 to 20 percent - an increase that mirrored the testosterone levels of actual participating athletes. Additionally, fans also describe sports teams by using phrases like "we won" or "we can go all the way" as if they were actual players on the team.
We laugh at these sports fans that are out of touch with the reality of the situation, and we should laugh at the false race creditors for operating on the same premise. Why does this happen outside of the sports world as well when it comes to Black History Month commercials that applaud an individual achievement of one black person and then try to credit the entire black community as having provided it.?
Is it because many members of society still feel guilt about injustices of the past? Is it because many members of society feel guilt about blacks and other minorities being on the outside looking in when it comes to sharing America's wealth and prosperity? Is it because discrimination still exists today?
Either one of these scenarios could be the reason; maybe there are more. But either way, regardless of the motive, false attribution creates a counterfeit fantasy world where people get credit for things they have not done. It is taking another's success and passing it off as someone else's as well - a plagiarism of achievement.
If you are still not convinced, switch things around. Would you think that I had lost my mind if I, an Italian, said "we lost World War II, we have a great soccer team, and we won Best Director for 'The Departed'"?
The moral of the story here is that purposeful false attribution of achievement, whether it be explicit or implicit, only occurs when the recipient of artificial credit perceives himself or is perceived by others as somehow inadequate. You wouldn't take or accept praise for something you didn't do unless you or someone else thought that you needed it as a fake self-esteem booster. And black or white, there is no greater assault on man's character than that.
Nice job.....very well written....are you a Prof. at OSU.. oops, I mean THE OSU..?????.....Sociology Professor?..
Thanks. As for your question, no, I'm just a student.
....Great....I just remember when I was in graduate school and writing many a research paper, Thesis etc.....I actually could write like that.....LOL.....
Well written article, says more in one page compared to what some say in an entire book or lifetime for that matter...