NFL Diversity Options

Two days ago when I was railing against the NFL proposal to reward teams that hired minority head coaches and/or GMs with enhanced draft order positioning, I tried to make the point that progress toward some sort of racial/ethnic balance in that area had to come from the owners individually.  They are the ones who do the hiring and firing; they need to come to a point where they modify their own behaviors; the NFL as an entity cannot make them do those things.

The next day, there was a story on that enhances the point I was trying to make.  Sam Quinn is a basketball writer for that website and his article linked here concerns the overt racism displayed by former LA Clippers owner, Donald Sterling.  His behaviors were sufficiently odious that the NBA forced him to sell his franchise.  According to Quinn’s article, former Clippers GM, Elgin Baylor, asserted in a lawsuit against Sterling that he wanted the organization run like an old southern plantation – – all Black players doing the work with a White head coach directing their actions.

In addition, Quinn recounts that Sterling almost negated a trade because it would put a white player, JJ Redick, on the Clippers squad.  You should take a moment and read that article because it drives home an important point related to “diversity issues” when it comes to sports.

  • If an owner harbors racially based thoughts, (s)he is likely to act on those racially based thoughts.
  • Offering marginal incentives for him/her to change those thoughts is not likely to change those thought patterns.
  • The league as an entity does,  however, hold the “ace of trump” in this game; it can force the owner to sell the team in order to save the league public ridicule – – but that is really the only card that the league has in its hand.

I purposely used the gender-inclusive pronouns above because Donald Sterling is not alone as a team owner forced to sell the team because of embarrassing racial actions.  Please recall Marge Schott as the owner of the Cincinnati Reds and some of her comments about Black players and in support of Adolf Hitler.  If you need to refresh your memory, you can find one of her obituaries here; it chronicles the high points and low points of her life.

The NFL does not have an owner with a public record of racial/ethnic misbehavior that approaches either Donald Sterling or Marge Schott; it is nowhere near a point where one or more owners need to be called out and threatened with being forced out of the league.  That is why the only real option the league has is to encourage owners to be more expansive in their searching for head coaches and GMs.

Switching sports …  The Triple Crown races this year are in total disarray.  Normally, by 21 May the first two legs of the Triple Crown would have been run with the Belmont Stakes looming as the third race in the series at a mile and a half – – often the longest race that any of its contestants ever run.  Here is the degree to which the COVID-19 outbreak has upset this annual tradition:

  • The dates of the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness have been postponed.  Tentatively, the Derby will take place on Labor Day weekend and the Preakness will be on a Saturday in October.  The Belmont Stakes is scheduled to take place on June 20 at Belmont Park but will likely be without fans in the stands.
  • Note that the order of the events is upended too.
  • And – – for some reason – – the folks who put on the Belmont Stakes have decided to run the race this year at a mile and an eighth instead of the normal mile and a half.

If a horse manages to win this year’s version of the Triple Crown, there will need to be an asterisk in the record books…

Finally, Dwight Perry had these suggestions for some MLB public service announcements as we endured COVID-19 shelter-in-place restrictions:

Proposed MLB public-service ad slogans for endorsing stay-at-home edicts during the pandemic:

  • You’re safe at home.

  • Lay off the curve.

  • Don’t even think about leaving the yard.

But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………