The National Football League, America’s most profitable sport, continues the trend presented by collegiate football. The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport (TIDES) at the University of Central Florida gave the NFL an overall grade of a B in terms of their racial and gender practices.
Only three NFL head coaches (Leslie Frazier, Mike Tomlin, and Marvin Lewis) are black. Only one of them, Tomlin, has achieved success as winning Super Bowl coach in 2008. In fact, in 2006, Tony Dungy, Tomlin’s mentor, became the first African American coach to win the Super Bowl. According to a 2011 survey of league offices, 74.8 percent of league high personnel are white. All 32 of NFL team owners are white.
67 percent of NFL players are black. However, the key leadership positions lack diversity. Only 16 percent of quarterbacks in the league are black. The quarterback is the most important position on the team. They read the defenses and change the play at the line of scrimmage. They are in complete control of the offense. To date, Doug Williams is the only black starting quarterback to win a Super Bowl.
When people speak about Andrew Luck, what do they say? Analysts speak about his cerebral tactics and his leadership. When people speak about Robert Griffin III, what do they say? He is a natural-born athlete, his speed, his arm strength. With the white athlete, it is the mental fortitude; with the black athlete, it is the undeniable physical attributes. To be blunt, it is racism, just adapted for the 2013 Negro.
TIDES gave the National Basketball Association an A for their race and gender practices. The NBA, compared to the other professional men leagues, stand far above in terms of race.
“The standard for racial and gender diversity is led by Commissioner David Stern,” said TIDES director Richard Lapchick. “He has continually been at the forefront of the issue and has led the charge for the NBA’s progress in racial and gender equality, which featured an historic set of accomplishments in 2012.”
25 percent of general managers in the league are black; 13 percent of presidents and CEOs are black as well. 12 of the current 30 NBA coaches are black, notably higher than the three the NFL provides. Also, the NBA features the highest percentage of black players, more than any sport professionally or on the collegiate level (78 percent).
The NBA, basketball in general, features the smallest portion of white athletes than any other sport on both levels. Reverse racism has been linked to the reason in the past. Dominating ideals, like portrayed in Ron Shelton’s movie White Man Can’t Jump, further enhance the discrepancy. Often, basketball is referred to as a strictly athletic sport with little strategy. Who is more equipped to win that game than the “natural-born athlete?”
The masters (the corporate sponsors, team owners and officials) push the idea of race under the proverbial rug when the question is asked. For example, does anybody remember Dan Gilbert’s response to LeBron’s departure? He sounded like a master who grew frustrated because his slave learned that he indeed was human and equal in every way.
The issue of race will continue into the near future. A post-racial society is a Utopia, a fantasy that sounds nice on Disney Channel. However, in the real world, race is real and present. When will the African American athlete be able to break free from its invisible chains and shackles?