Does NFL Violence Disproportionally Affect Black Men?

4 min readJan 19
Photo by Dave Adamson on Unsplash

On Jan. 2, 2023, Damar Hamlin, a Buffalo Bills defensive back, made a tackle, got up, then collapsed from a cardiac arrest. Hamlin was rushed to the hospital, and the Monday Night Football game was suspended.

A recent article in Scientific America by Duke University professor Tracie Canada was subtitled: The “terrifyingly ordinary” nature of football’s violence disproportionately affects Black men. In response to Canada, Super Bowl-winning coach Tony Dungy tweeted, “As a black man and former NFL player, I can say this article is absolutely ridiculous.”

It’s important to note that Canada’s bio states she uses sports to theorize race and examine racial disparities.

Canada wrote, “This ordinary violence has always riddled the sport and it affects all players. But black players are disproportionately affected. While black men are severely underrepresented in positions of power across football organizations, such as coaching and management, they are overrepresented on the gridiron. Non-white players account for 70 percent of the NFL … [and] … through a process of racial stacking, coaches racially segregate athletes by position. These demographic discrepancies place black athletes at a higher risk during play.”

Now, to a person who doesn’t understand how racial disparities are generated, it appears that Canada has a point. But a person familiar with the “general population formula,” understands that racial disparities are only used to make accusations of racism.

The “general population formula” takes the black population in the United States, which is 13 percent, and compares it to the actual percentage of black Americans in any given area. If the percentage of black Americans in any given area doesn’t match 13 percent of the black population, then black Americans are either overrepresented or underrepresented.

For example, black Americans make up 13 percent of the population but 40 percent of the prison population. This is an overrepresentation. Black Americans make up 13 percent of the population but only 1 percent of the CEOs of Fortune 500 companies. This is an underrepresentation.

According to racial theorists, the gaps between 13 percent and 40 percent and 1 percent and 13 percent…


J. Pharoah Doss is a columnist for the New Pittsburgh Courier.