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For Your Ears Only!’ Donald Sterling and Backstage Racism in Sport

The purpose of this paper is to elucidate how racism manifests ‘behind closed doors’ in the backstage private domain. We do this with reference to recent high-profile controversies in the US and UK. In particular, we use the concepts of frontstage (public) and backstage (private) racism to unpack the extraordinary case in point of the ex-National Basketball Association franchise owner Donald Sterling. The paper concludes that though it is important for frontstage racism to be disrupted, activist scholars must be mindful of the lesser-known, and lesser-researched, clandestine backstage racism that, we argue, galvanized more public manifestations. The Donald Sterling case is an example of how backstage racism functions and, potentially, how it can be resisted.