By Everett Glenn
NNPA Guest Columnist
They say that “sport mirrors life.” The latest example is the sick twist on the death of Eric Garner after the deaths of NYPD officers Ralph Ramos and Wenjian Liu. One of the headlines read “NYPD Cops Assassinated, and the killings prompted police supporters to proudly sport hoodies with the words “I Can Breathe.” In a clash with protestors, police supporters chanted “Don’t Resist Arrest” in response to “I Can’t Breathe.”
NYPD brass publicly condemned Mayor Bill de Blasio, Al Sharpton and President Barack Obama. “There is blood on many hands tonight and that blood on the hands starts at City Hall in the office of the mayor,” stated Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association’s Patrick Lynch.
Former Mayor Rudy Giuliani claimed that “the protests are being embraced, the protests are being encouraged. The protests, even the ones that don’t lead to violence – a lot of them lead to violence – all of them lead to a conclusion: The police are bad. The police are racist. That is completely wrong. Actually, the people who do the most for the Black community in America are the police.”
Actually, police departments have consistently been found guilty of discrimination against Blacks in hiring, promotion and workplace conditions, and responsible for the deaths of Black people nearly two times a week in the United States during a seven-year period ending in 2012 according to the most recent accounts of justifiable homicide reported to the FBI does the most for the Black community in America?
Sport does mirror life, and Giuliani’s belief is at the heart of the Intersection of Race, Sports & Money™ in America.
How else do you explain the fact that the same NBA owners who voted Donald Sterling out of their club remain silent about the lack of any meaningful diversity in NBA spending? Or the NFL Foundation’s $45 million commitment to the growth of football while ignoring the personal growth and development of Black boys who will one day dominate NFL rosters? Because “sport mirrors life,” the NFL’s “Business Connect” initiative, like the NBA’s diversity effort, is limited to Super Bowl spending which is actually focused on local businesses and not minority businesses. Despite the conspicuous consumption of NFL games and products by people of color according to Nielsen and the fact that Proposition 209 and similar anti-affirmative action laws do not apply to the NFL or the NBA.
Despite the record $2.6 billion per year the NBA will receive under its new TV contract, a 186 percent increase over the current $930 million annually, the NBA’s diversity efforts center on public service announcements during Black History Month and “opportunities” for qualified minority-owned, woman-owned and other diverse supplies (M/WBEs) to participate in the NBA All-Star procurement process during NBA All-Star weekend. What about the rest of the year?
Instead of contributing robustly to the national economy, Black firms seeking to do business in the sports business industry generally remain on the sidelines of the value chain, generating little wealth, few jobs, low tax revenues, and fiscal burdens. The deeper you look, the more sport mirrors society.
Because sport mirrors life, Nike’s Phil Knight can donate more than $300 million to Oregon and its athletic department, singlehandedly financing Oregon’s transition from also-ran to D-1 powerhouse/fashion statement, while practically ignoring the community and boys who have helped him become the 43rd richest man in the world US$18.4 billion.
It would also explain the lack of NCAA response to the disproportionate representation of Black males on NCAA basketball and football teams compared to their representation among the college student body generally, the lack of a meaningful NCAA response to the massive academic fraud committed against Black athletes, and the apparent inability of the NCAA to eliminate the lingering and persistent disparity in graduation rates between Black and White athletes.
What’s stopping Black folk from rallying behind and redirecting our youngsters to HBCUs and emulate the NCAA’s version of recycling Black dollars? That system pours 90 percent of NCAA money generated almost entirely by Black basketball players into non-revenue sports in which few Blacks participate. According to NCAA President Mark Emmert in a December 12, 2012 LA Chamber of Commerce discussion “College Sports Are Broken”, the $2 billion in scholarship dollars generated by basketball and football, where 99% of the stars are Black, represents a source of scholarship funding second only to the federal government.
It would take one recruiting class in basketball and as few as two recruiting classes in football. With the “newfound” talent, HBCUs could ultimately sell TV rights and like the Texas’s and Alabama’s, reallocate the revenue to the (academic) mission of their institutions. Who would know the difference so long as the majority of the players remain Black and talented?
We know what needs to be done. All that is missing is the will to do it. At least then HBCUs, many of which are on life support #CouldBreathe. HBCU sports would also mirror the domination of Black athletes in society.
Everett L. Glenn, an attorney and former sports agent, was one of the first agents to represent multiple NFL and NBA first-round draft picks in the same year. His clients have included three NFL Hall of Fame inductees and 11 first-round draft picks.