So I wanted to break my hiatus to share my thoughts on the whole Donald Sterling fiasco. There are five main points that I want to touch upon:
1) I agree with Silver’s actions. The NBA is sending a message, and it was important that it was severe.
2) I would be surprised if Sterling was the only racist in the league.
3) As this is the cause of the moment, it has become politically correct to ostracize Donald Sterling. If someone is asked their opinion on this situation, a lot of people will probably condemn his actions just so they don’t appear racist. Anyone who publicly supports Donald Sterling might appear racist, and no one wants to appear racist, even if they are. Even Donald Sterling, when speaking to his girlfriend said it’s ok to love African Americans you just have to do so privately. So for him, it’s all about keeping up appearances.
4) I support minority professional sport’s team ownership.
5) It’s easy for us all to point the finger at Sterling, it’s important to remember however that racism is a disease of the heart. We all have our own “diseases” of the heart. Ours may not be racism but if it’s not that then it is certainly something else. So as we point the finger at Sterling, let us take the next step of evaluating our own hearts.
1) Racism, as I previously stated, is an issue of the heart. Therefore it can be hidden and subdued, but it is alive in well. Racism has not gone away; it has just gone into hiding, incognito. A racist person can hide behind smiles and good deeds just like anyone else. Adam Silver had to be swift and decisive in his actions. I agree with a zero tolerance policy when it comes to discrimination. If Silver did not come down hard on Sterling then he would be sending a message that those types of views are ok.
2) Silver brought this dialogue to center stage and exposed that racists are in the league. Since the league is a microcosm of society, I would expect that there are still those who have those types of views in the league. Some of those people may not even know that they are racist.
3) Outwardly, public opinion has seemed to “condemn” Donald Sterling and his actions. I think some people don’t necessarily ‘disagree’ with Sterling’s mindset and may just say show public disapproval so they themselves do not become a pariah.
4) In the NBA, as of October 2013, 76% of the players are African American, while 2% of the majority owners are African-American. In the NFL, 66% of the players are African American, while 0% of the majority owners are African American. As a person who has studied business in college, and work in a large business as an accountant, I have thought about the dynamics of the employee owner structure in sports for a while now. To me it is extremely absurd that you have 60-80% of your talent/work force is one ethnicity and 2% of the owners of those sport team’s businesses are that ethnicity.
- Jeff why does this matter? Why do you care? Sports are a star driven industry. If you don’t have starts, you don’t have a viable business. It’s LeBron James that drives tick sales, not Micky Arrison (Owner of the Miami Heat). American professional sports, as it now stands has a bunch of highly talented minority millionaires increasing the net worth of mostly billionaire white men. As a business person, if my talents are the driving source of the business that makes me the rain maker, and therefore I want the lion’s share of the profits. What I would like to see is a drastic increase in minority ownership. Furthermore, I would like to see some of these Sports stars trained and mentored in how to take charge of their career from a business perspective. They need to understand the power of branding and how very important they are to the financial prosperity to the team owner and to the entire league. Magic Johnson and Michael Jordan would be good examples.
5) Racism is appalling but it is an issue of the heart. Racism may not be the issue of my heart, but I have my own heart issues that I must contend with. I suggest you do as well. Now what Sterling did was wrong and I believe it needed to be punished but let us take this as a reason to check our own imperfect hearts.