Race is a ridiculous filter to use in any facet of life, but one of the most obviously idiotic uses of it is in professional sports. If you watch any televised sports, you'll quickly notice players can only be compared to other players of their own race. Adam Morrison, for example, was always compared to Larry Bird, even though their games have nothing in common. But they're both white, and you're definitely not going to compare and up-and-coming (at the time) white player to somebody whose black, no matter how ridiculous the intraracial comparison may be.
Another way it's used is to differentiate between "hustle and intelligence" and "feel for the game." You'll especially notice it if you watch a black quarterback play against a white quarterback -- the black quarterback's bad passes are "poor decisions" compared to the passes that "just got away" from the white quarterback. While the white quarterback makes "good decisions," the black quarterback makes "instinctual" plays.
"Heart" is also something white players seem to have in spades, but not black players. Case in point -- Danny Woodhead. As the folks over at Deadspin point out, it's not so much that he's small and plucky, but maybe that he's white. They do a great job of pointing out the many black players who are smaller than Woodhead who have never been described as inspirational little engines that could who play with heart and are heroes to all.
But maybe race has nothing to do with it...