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The next time someone complains about a star athlete’s return from a career-halting injury, take notice of the player’s race. It appears that some think a Black player is expected to return to action much sooner than a White counterpart according to a new study. Researchers from the University of Virginia and Northwestern University conducted a joint study titled “Racial Bias in Perception of Others’ Pain,” which was released today and the findings were interesting. 

The study opens on noting the health disparities Black Americans face when compared with Whites, noting that the availability of adequate healthcare is the root. The introduction then notes that African-Americans are “systematically undertreated for pain” and that all conflicting factors “generally imply that Black patients’ pain is recognized but not treated.” Using this as the basis of research, the team used injury reports and data from the 2010 and 2011 NFL season.  Injury type, player position and race all went into the tally, giving some credence to the study’s thesis.

The study does have some vague means of arriving to its conclusion, noting the terms such as “probable,” “doubtful,” and “questionable” on the report scale showed a quicker return to play from Black athletes over Whites.  Race doesn’t remain a primary factor, but skin color and the assumptive nature of others regarding skin tone was at the heart of the research.

“Participants assumed that the Black target was less privileged and faced more hardship than the White target,” wrote the authors of the study. In essence, Black people have it harder than Whites and thus may have a higher threshold of pain.

Spotted at DeadSpin.


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Photo: NBA