Stock Groups

Why pro sports have never had a Black commissioner


Kevin Warren, Big Ten Commissioner, watches as the Big Ten Championship Trophy Ceremony Game was held after the Michigan Wolverines beat the Iowa Hawkeyes by a score of 42-3 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.

Robin Alam | Icon Sportswire | Getty Images

Professional sports have been experiencing heavy Black History Month.

Brian Flores was fired as Miami Dolphins’ coach. He claimed that the league used racist hiring practices. Eminem, a rapper, sat down during Super Bowl’s halftime show to support Colin Kapernick. Kapernick was blacklisted after he kneeled during the national anthem in protest of racial injustice.

These stories were all over the news. The same has happened with other stories. Washington officially renamingIts football team The Commanders was formed more than a decade after the Commanders’ previous name was dropped, which had been long considered racist and offensive to Native Americans.

However, there is another conversation that involves race and sports. This conversation is not being had in public.

There has not been one Black chief executive in any of the major American pro-sport leagues. Also known as a commissioner, There have been none in the 102 NFL seasons or 75 years of Major League Baseball. There are at most 28 commissioners of pro-sport leagues. None of them are Black.

According to him, “We are unable even to get Colin Kaepernick onto a team.” Michael Eric DysonProfessor of African American Studies at Vanderbilt University. He is a well-known scholar on race, culture, and history. “So talking about a Black commissioner seems to be a leap of faith that is far ‘beyond the ken of mortal man’ — as they said on Andy Griffith Show.”

Numerous private firms and non-profit organizations responded to social unrest that occurred in 2020. commitments to improveTheir diversity. Goldman SachsIt stated that it would not take public companies if there wasn’t at least one “diverse board member or candidate. The NFL and NBA both proclaimed their promises to “drive economic development” and fight racial injustices in Black communities with commitments of more than $500 millions.

It remains to be determined if the push for economic diversity and improvement throughout leagues will reach pro-sports C-suite positions such as CEO.

Roger Ferguson, Jr., the CEO of TIAA, takes part in Yahoo Finance All Markets Summit : A World of Change at The TimesCenter, on Thursday, September 20, 2018, New York.

Evan Agostini | Invision | AP

America has a lot of problems with black chief executives

Roger Ferguson Jr. also noted that sport is frequently referred to in terms of society.

Ferguson Jr. was among the Fortune 500’s few Black CEOs. When he ran TIAA Financial Services, he was among five Black CEOs. Before his retirement in 2021His leadership of the company’s financial crisis was crucial. He is credited for adding over 1,000,000 customers to TIAA and elevating its assets to $1 trillion.

Ferguson called the absence of Black CEOs “multifaceted” and recommended that different boards solve this problem.

“There’s more evidence that shows diverse teams, including in a business context, leads to better outcomes — and financial outcomes, not just cultural outcomes,” said Ferguson, who is also a CNBC contributor.

Ferguson was a great man, but he is now a terrible person. American ExpressKenneth Chenault is CEO and former-MerckAlthough Ken Frazier was a pioneer, it is still rare to find a Black CEO who leads a Fortune 500 business. You include Thasunda Brown DuckettFerguson was replaced at TIAA by. Rosalind BrewerThe CEO of WalgreensMarvin Ellison, CEO of Lowes.

Ferguson stated that he is “cautiously optimistic” that more high-ranking companies will look to hire Black CEOs. However, Ferguson warned that both sports leagues as well as companies need to deal with the issue in light of growing awareness from Black consumers.

Ferguson explained that board members need to recognize that this isn’t a moral imperative. This is a business imperative. And frankly, particularly in sports when there are so many of the athletes who are African-American — so many of the fans are African American — people are going to expect to see the front office and the back office looking very much like the fan base and more like the teams. This is going to be good for business and morality.

Reggie Williams, #57 from the Cincinnati Bengals, dives onto Earnest Jackson 43 of the Pittsburgh Steelers in an NFL football match on September 18, 1988 at Three Rivers Stadium. Williams played from 1976-1989 for the Bengals.

Getty Images | Getty Images

Racism and Reggie Williams’ nomination

The Vanderbilt University professor Dyson went far beyond the corporate world. His argument was that ignorance about race is still the main reason Black executives are kept under-resourced, which ensures there will never be a Black commissioner.

Dyson said that “the intellectual elite” believes Black people have the ability to provide physical labor. However, they lack intellectual and social leadership. Dyson explained this to CNBC. It is clear that Blacks are as capable of leading a league’s leadership role than any other group or race.

Dyson described it as “one of last bastions non-Black superiority.”

A false narrative was added by he that Black candidates weren’t smart enough, savvy sufficient, or well-connected enough to take on the role of commissioner.

Dyson said, “As commissioner, obviously you need to be connected.” A commissioner is someone who has a good relationship with owners. They can also negotiate for them on the larger arena. There may also be suspicion about whether a Black male or female can engage in this type of activity.

The result was: Black commissionerTerdema Ussery, who held the title of Continental Basketball Association’s champion in the lower level sports. The league folded in 2009. In 2006 there was talk that a major professional sports league might be close to adding a Black CEO.

Richard LapchickHe was the chair of University of Central Florida’s Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport and was one of the first to propose a Black candidate for the seat of a Commissioner. His writings are here. a 2006 articleHe called on the NFL to hire Reggie Williams, a former linebacker who is also a respected sports executive for this job. Williams was mentioned as an option to replace Paul Tagliabue, the then-Commissioner.

Williams also had the qualifications.

Williams was with the Cincinnati Bengals his entire life. While playing his final season in 1989, Williams served as a councilman. Williams then became the first Black president. Disney. He is also responsible for creating Disney’s Wide World of Sports Complex.

Lapchick mentioned Williams’ business acumen. He had a football history. He was a refreshing perspective for the NFL on a lot issues.

However, Williams was not chosen by the NFL and the position was given to Roger Goodell who became one of America’s highest-paid CEOs. From 2019 to 2021 Goodell earned an average $64 million per year. according to the New York Times.

Goodell’s agreement with Goodell expires in 2024. There was also some speculation he could retireThis could allow him to make history again after he finishes his current contract. Sports Business Journal was able to publish this week’s story. reportedGoodell had been trying to negotiate an extension with the NFL, but they denied it.

However, if Goodell were to leave the NFL would owners be willing to seriously look into a Black candidate for their position?

Dyson denied it.

“These owners have not evinced any indication, given any sign, that they are willing with their troubled and often traumatic racial beliefs, some of them antiquated — to move forward,” he said. Although it would be fantastic, the line of succession has dictated that this club is white men’s.

Mark Tatum is the Deputy Commissioner for the NBA and holds the Detroit Pistons card after the team was selected 1st in the NBA Draft Lottery 2021. The lottery took place at Secaucus’ NBA Entertainment Studios.

Steve Freeman | National Basketball Association | Getty Images

Is there a Black commissioner ever?

However, as the diversity of the C-suite continues to lag in the major leagues, college sports has seen a significant improvement.

The Sun Belt Conference was held March 2019. hired Keith Gill, making him the first Black manto assume the office of commissaire in an NCAA bowl subdivision conference. Kevin Warren became the first commissioner for an NCAA football subdivision conference in June 2019. Black chief operating officerIn the NFL, he was appointed Big Ten commissioner. His first Power 5 presidency was as a Black leader.

Warren, who has an NFL background, is now working as a commissioner. There’s even speculation that Warren could become a professional sports commissioner in the NFL.

Lapchick replied, “Absolutely,” when asked about Williams’s ability to be a candidate. He’s been an inspiration to me since his time at Minnesota. 

Warren responded to rumors that he would one day lead the NFL as its CEO. Also, I believe that people will do the right things for the right reasons and the right time. “I know that I have the ability to ensure I am operating at this highest level of performance at all times.”

Len Elmore from Columbia University suggested that the NBA have a Black commissioner in place of the NFL. As evidence, he used the pro-football problem with hiring Black head coaches to show that they aren’t ready for a Black chief executive.

“There are many Black coaches who have been certified, but I’m not sure how many you can see. [owners]He said that they know that these guys are out there.” They still hire less-qualified men. That’s the difference — who are they comfortable with. That is the thing I look at.”

Jason Wright, Team President speaks as the Washington Football Team is renamed to Washington Commanders at FedExField. This was announced on February 2, 2022 in Landover Maryland.

Rob Carr | Getty Images

It’s a difficult job to land.

The NFL is not ready yet to move. The job of CEO in the NBA could also be far away.

Adam Silver, League Commissioner, also has a contract that runs until 2024. At 59 years old, he is not looking to retire. Silver is still the most beloved commissioner in professional sports, even though he was fired by Donald Sterling, former owner of Los Angeles Clippers in 2014 due to racist remarks.

Lapchick declared, “That was one of the most important decisions a commissioner ever made during my life.”

If Silver decides to leave, Mark Tatum (the NBA’s vice commissioner) could make history. Dyson shared Warren’s sentiment that Tatum “is gaining experience, learning all the knowhow, and applying his skills” towards becoming a commissioner.

Jason Wright, the Washington Commanders team’s president, is a name you should be looking out for. Wright was elected the NFL’s inaugural team president during the social unrest.

Craig Robinson, a former Princeton star and Oregon State University men’s basketball coach is currently the Executive Director at the National Association of Basketball Coaches. Robinson echoed the sentiment that “institutional bias” must be overcome by sports coaches before any history can be made.

Robinson stated, “I believe we are at a point where people understand there are many qualified candidates who could perform a great job.” The owners have hired the commissioner. These are the other options. [the majority]Most owners of these homes are white. The problem is that exposure alone doesn’t solve the problem. Exposure to Black and minority-qualified women who are capable of doing the job.

Because there aren’t many commissioners, he said that the seat was “difficult for most folks to get” Many things need to be done, and it takes the right amount of time.

We will see if that happens soon. Dyson stated that sports leagues must address many diversity issues before Dyson envisions a Black CEO running a major league.

Dyson claimed that it was impossible to resolve some of the more complex issues within the leagues. Although there is progress, they reflect the times. Unfortunately, the Black commissioner will be years away, even decades, in many cases.