SBD/Issue 86/Sports & Society

NBA's Diversity Far Exceeds Other Major U.S. Sports Leagues

Bob Johnson Remains The Only Black Owner
Of A Major Professional Sports Franchise
The NBA is "so infused with black power that it is the only significant American institution I know of where the white man is inherently perceived to be inadequate to the task," according to the BOSTON GLOBE's Bob Ryan, who writes under the header, "NBA Leads This Race." Nine of the 30 NBA head coaches are black, there are "four blacks calling the organizational shots" and Bobcats Owner Bob Johnson is the only black owner of a major professional sports team in the U.S. The NBA is the "land of administrative fairness and opportunity, and on the playing front" (BOSTON GLOBE, 1/22).

STEPPING UP TO THE PLATE: SI.com's Arash Markazi wrote while President Barack Obama may have "endeared himself to sports fans with his love of basketball and his staunch support of a college football playoff, the impact he's had on the usually apolitical athletes of today's generation was apparent." Chiefs TE Tony Gonzalez, who spoke at the Latino Inaugural Ball Tuesday night, said, "This is the first time in my life that I've ever been political about anything" (SI.com, 1/21). FanHouse.com's Jay Mariotti said all sorts of athletes are "now coming out of the woodwork and wanting to be active. … How can that not help this country?" Dallas Morning News columnist Tim Cowlishaw said Obama "will get athletes and other people maybe more interested, committed in politics.”  Denver Post columnist Woody Paige added Obama "is going to have a totally positive influence on sports, on all different levels” (“Around The Horn,” ESPN, 1/21). GOLF WORLD's Bill Fields writes there is "little appeal to the celebrity who shoots from the lip about every cause du jour," but golfer Tiger Woods, who Sunday spoke at Obama's inauguration celebration in DC, "could turn out to be the perfect example of a thoughtful sportsman who picks his spots." His speech on Sunday "just might be where Tiger took baby steps toward something grander than his game" (GOLF WORLD, 1/26 issue).

Writer Believes Venus Williams Should Have
Voiced Stronger Political Statement
WHAT TOOK SO LONG? In Milwaukee, Bob Wolfley writes it is "hard to understand, as some commentary has suggested, why having President Barack Obama necessarily will prompt famous black athletes like Tiger Woods or LeBron James or Kobe Bryant or Michael Jordan to take up more political causes than they have in the past." If these athletes "wanted to take on certain issues, they would have done it long ago." They "don't need permission from Obama, or the example of Obama, to pursue that kind of agenda." Wolfley: "Muhammad Ali, Arthur Ashe or Jim Brown didn't wait around for or need anyone's permission. They just did it" (MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL, 1/22). Sony Ericsson WTA Tour player Venus Williams, when asked about Obama's election, said, "I think he was the best candidate. So I'm happy that the best candidate was elected. ... But I really am not a political expert." SI.com's Jon Wertheim wrote Venus is "entitled to her opinions," but her response was "profoundly disappointing." Wertheim: "You have this incredible global platform to influence thought and opinion. Millions of all races look up to you. ... I suspect that somewhere Billie Jean King is banging her head against a post" (SI.com, 1/21).

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