First they suit up…Then they picking out the CottonMay 18, 2007 at 6:53 pm | Posted in Hip Hop News/Press Releases | Leave a comment
Sixty years ago, Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier of the sports world when he became the first African American Major League baseball player. During the subsequent years, Blacks in the U.S. have continued to overcome several hurdles inside and outside of the sports world while occasionally taking self inflicting steps backwards. (The latter is another discussion altogether).
A professional basketball player whose name will remain undisclosed claimed that other than nationally televised games, nobody ever saw players enter arenas prior to playing. He implied that the newly institutionalized dress code was implemented to assure the concerns of season ticket holders. . Not meaning to sound like I borrowed a page from The Isis Papers and many may disagree, but this realization is somewhat reminiscent of slave traders calculatedly housing slaves from different ethnic backgrounds on ships, as a form of control, making it difficult for the execution of uprisings. Given the nature of the sports industry, one could suggest that it is a modern, marketable form of slavery. The former statement may sound somewhat outlandish considering for example the voluntary participation inherent of professional sports as well as the compensation received by its participants. Nevertheless, if one were to examine the numbers associated with certain sports it becomes clear that Blacks are merely players on the grand stage with limited possibilities for scripting or directing the play.
In a 32-team league that is about seventy percent black, only six NFL teams have black coaches. Furthermore, this misappropriation in numbers remains unchecked in the executive branch; there are only three black general managers. Still as poor as these statistics are, Blacks within the collegiate ranks fair considerably less when compared to their NFL counterparts. In fact the percentage of college football coaches makes the NFL coaching carousel resemble the NY Knicks of the mid Seventies (The teams that were referred to as the Niggerbockers because of their occasional twelve black man rooster).
Of the 117 Division 1-A football teams, only six teams have an African American at the helm. Similarly in a league that is also seventy five percent black, about a third of NBA teams have black coaches. Nevertheless, black NBA executives fair significantly better than their NFL counterparts; there are eight African American General Managers and one owner, the Charlotte Bobcat’s Bob Johnson.
Granted giant strides have been made in the world of sports; inconsistencies as indicated in the statistics above clearly still exist. Blacks are good enough to play, win championships, fill up arena seats but are deemed inept, incapable of coaching and occupying executive positions.
With the NBA draft about two months away, NBA executives and agents, of which the majority are non-Blacks are salivating at several notable draft prospects; many of these prospects will be signing million dollar contracts, and endorsing popular consumer products. Executives and more specifically agents are not really concerned with the well- beings of these prospects. Peddled as gravity defying greenbacks by agents, they are not interested in if these draft prospects further their educations or about their lives after retirement. Instead they tabulate how much money they could earn if say Greg Oden signs a shoe contract with Nike; ironically it is estimated that Durant’s first shoe contract could bring in about eight figures for his agent. Whether it is a black or white agent, money is an incentive and an obvious motivation. The difference lies in the simple fact that black agents are more prone to understanding the majority black athletes who more or less have shared similar experiences; growing up black in America.
All things considered it is clear that several flaws or rather inconsistencies are rampant within the sport industry. This is not a stand to exclude white coaches, executives or agents from professional sports but rather it is about presenting Blacks with equal opportunities. As an example, if there were more black college coaches they could act as go betweens or form a liaison with the handful of black agents. This responsibility does not lay solely in the hands of the suits or authorities namely the NCAA, the NBA, or the NFL; black people should also be held accountable. Black parents should encourage their children to enlist in athletic programs that have blacks at the helm; or even attend traditionally black institutions. Rest assure parents; regardless of school, if their children possess any talents they will be covered by the media. It’s still bigger than sports…