OT: Deadspin tool that shows we talk differently about football players based on race.

Submitted by SituationSoap on May 9th, 2014 at 10:54 AM

So Deadspin went through and indexed pre-draft scouting reports from three different sources at NFL.com, ESPN.com and CBS.com and dropped every word into a database based on the race of the player being scouted. The results are very interesting, and you can find them here:




Some interesting results. I'm sharing these because I think they're interesting and not because I'm trying to make some grand point. If there was a way to spin this data to say that I think "Draft Experts" are stupid and that I think it's preposterous that their job even exists, I would. Sadly, I haven't seen that chance yet. 


Gritty is a white word. It shows up about 7 times more often for white players than black players. This surprises precisely zero people anywhere.

Natural is a black word: It shows up 67% more often describing black players than white players.

White is, ironically, a black word: it shows up very slightly more often to describe black players.

Hard is a word that comes in dead even between white and black players, though "worker" is a white word, showing up slightly more often for white players than black players.

Zero white players are described with the word "gifted". 13 black players are. 

"Arm" is a white word, with a 300% higher incidence count for white players over black players (despite black players getting more total mentions of the word). 

"Speed" shows up 4 times as often for black players though the actual usage rate is only a 34% increase. Quick shows a similar usage disparity.

Variations of the word talent are used to describe white players about 1.5 times more often than black players.

The word "dumb" is used just a single time. Stupid is not used at all.

"Winner" is used to describe white players about twice as often as black players.

There are 3 uses of "lazy" to describe a black player ans 1 usage to describe a white player (meaning their usage rate is fairly even).

The word "however" is used in descriptions of black players roughly twice as often as white players.

There are no references to the word "donkey", suggesting that no one is stealing Taylor Lewan scouting reports from MgoBlog.



May 9th, 2014 at 11:16 AM ^

It only let me search "motor", but the results of the seach show 1.75 appearances per ten thousand words for white players compared to 2.66 appearances per ten thousand words for black players, per their metric. "Fast" has a similar disparity, but 2.63 to 3.84 respectively. 

The article comments actually contain some more interesting - and in a few cases, amusing - searches as well. "Burst" had a huge gap. Someone also searched the name "Doug" and it actually showed up in some profiles apparently. 



May 9th, 2014 at 5:57 PM ^

This is a good question actually as I am sure people were wondering.

To answer, there isn't really a set scale per se, although generally the deduction is fitted to the offense on a subjective level. My preferred method is to use flat deductions for minor stuff, then squares and cubes and higher powers of the original amount for more severe offenses. The length of the punishment varies depending on what has transpired as well. 


May 9th, 2014 at 10:04 PM ^

There's some number that my browser remembers and I use that unless I feel like adding zeros for effect. For me there's not a difference between any negative numbers (they're big enough that the negbomb expiring is the only way out) but different timeframes get used, usually by month.

There is a difference between going to zero and going to Bolivia, sometimes a poster just needs a break from posting threads or whatever the case may be.


May 9th, 2014 at 11:11 AM ^

I don't doubt that there are racial influences on how players get described/evaluated.  That being said, this tool would be far more meaningful if categorized by position.

You yourself pointed out an obvious flaw, "arm" being a white word most likely indicates that there is a greater concentration of white quarterbacks compared to other positions, not an inherent racial difference. 

EDIT: also, "nasty" and "level" is used more often to describe white players.  Easily predictable since there are generally more white offensive lineman compared to black.



May 9th, 2014 at 11:07 AM ^

This blog is all upside and length.  Amazing grit, lots of heart, just shows up every day trying to be better.  Very aggressive; it really wants to impose its will on the other blogs but does so with class and respect.  A model member of the community, but isn't afraid to put its hat and go to work. A little tight in the hips, needs to work on size.   


May 9th, 2014 at 11:10 AM ^

Interestingly, the average number of words per player is higher for black players than for white (777.3 vs. 691.6). The analysis they are doing is number of mentions per 10,000 words. I think it would be more interesting to calculate the probability of a word being used by race no matter how many words are used to describe the player. 

Arizona Blue

May 9th, 2014 at 11:17 AM ^

Serious question, will there ever again be a white corner taken in the nfl draft in the first round?

Gritty, lunch pail workers are not how you describe our elite, athletic, natural corners that everybody likes


May 9th, 2014 at 11:18 AM ^

This is all in mentions per 10,000 words:


Student - 1.75 for white, 1.12 for black (student of the game, honors student)

Childhood - Never mentioned for white, 0.22 for black (ie, tough childhood)

Accuracy - 9.93 for white, 0.8 for black (wow!)

Brother - 4.97 for white, 1.65 for black.... (oddly enough, they never mention a sibling for either race)

Punter - 1.9 for white, 0.0 for black.  Hmm...

swan flu

May 9th, 2014 at 11:22 AM ^

I'd like to see it normalized by position.

Pick a random white player out, it's more likely (based on numbers of players entering the draft at each position) that the player you picked is a lineman or a linebacker.  Words like "gritty" often describe these posiitons more than, say, a wide receiver.


I dont think the conclusions would be any different, but it would be a more solid application of statistics.

The Impaler

May 9th, 2014 at 11:33 AM ^

I would like to see a breakdown of words for Somoan prospects, black players of African descent (1st or 2nd Generation) and other small minorities represented.

Shakey Jake

May 9th, 2014 at 11:53 AM ^

anything in the article that mentioned the breakdown of how many black player vs white players in the draft that the database pulled from. If one race was more representative than another, it would skew the results.

And how dare they use the word BLACK. They should know that that is a racist word, especially when defined by the PC police on MGOBLOG. By the way, have you seen the color of the shirts that the MGOBLOG popo wears?

Ali G Bomaye

May 9th, 2014 at 11:57 AM ^

"(In total we pulled 68,465 words on 99 white players—6,228 unique—and 223,868 words on 288 black players—10,580 unique)."


They also account for this by giving both the raw number of times the word was used and the ratio per 10,000 words for each race.


May 9th, 2014 at 2:08 PM ^

IQ: 1.31 for white players and 0.36 for black players.

Intelligent: 2.48 to 0.67

Intelligence: 3.51 to 1.16

Smart: 6.31 to 2.32

Heady: 0.58 to 0.36

Student: 1.75 to 1.12

Coachable: 1.46 to 0.98

Mature: 0.98 to 1.52

Teammate: 1.17 to 1.79

Playbook: 0.15 to 0.36

Understanding: 0.58 to 0.63

Plan: 0.44 to 0.67

Read: 1.02 to 1.21

Reading: 0.15 to 1.07

Seeing: 0.73 to 0.98

Vision: 3.07 to 5.4

Feel: 3.07 to 4.29

Anticipation: 3.21 to 4.87


So while white players are labeled as smart in a general sense much more, black players are more likely to be scouted as actually possessing the qualities that are associated with being smart players.  Or at least this makes it seem that way.