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In Black and White

In Black and White: Race and Sports in America

Kenneth L. Shropshire
Foreword by Kellen Winslow
Copyright Date: 1996
Published by: NYU Press
Pages: 240
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  • Book Info
    In Black and White
    Book Description:

    From the days of the Negro Leagues in baseball up to the present when collegiate basketball factories entice and then fail to educate young black men, sports in America have long served as a barometer of the country's racial climate. Just as blacks are generally absent from the upper echelons of corporate America, they are similarly underrepresented from the front offices of the sports industry as well. In this compact volume, Kenneth L. Shropshire confronts prominent racial myths head-on, offering both a descriptive history of--and prescriptive solutions for--the most pressing problems currently plaguing sports.

    At present, whites have a 95% ownership stake in professional basketball, baseball, and football teams. And yet, when confronted with programs intended to diversify their front offices, many teams resort to the familiar refrain of merit-based excuses: there simply aren't enough qualified black candidates or they don't know how to network. While more subtle, this approach has the same effect as the racist comments of an Al Campanis or a Marge Schott: it stigmatizes and excludes African-Americans. In the insular world of sports, characterized by a feeder system through which former players often move up to become coaches, managers, executives, and owners, blacks are eminently qualified. For example, after decades of active involvement with their sport, they often bring to the table experiences more relevant to the black players which make up the majority of professional athletes. Given the centrality of sport in American life, it is imperative that the industry be a leader, not a laggard, in the arena of racial equality.

    Informed by Frederick Douglass's belief that power concedes nothing without a demand,In Black and Whitecasts its net widely, dissecting claims of colorblindness and reverse racism as self-serving, rhetorical camouflage and scrutinizing professional and collegiate sports, sports agents, and owners alike. No mere critique, however, the volume looks optimistically forward, outlining strategies of interest to all those who have a stake, professional or otherwise, in sports and racial equality.

    eISBN: 978-0-8147-8665-9
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-viii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-x)
  3. Foreword
    (pp. xi-xvi)
    Kellen Winslow

    I must admit to you how much I have struggled in writing the foreword for this book. When first asked, I quickly accepted, feeling honored to be selected by a person I respect and admire a great deal. My first attempt was adequate but not what he was looking for. He wanted me to bare my soul, to talk about issues that most people do not wish to think about when it comes to the sacred world of sports. That’s when my task became difficult. To do the job requested of me, I had to revisit my experiences and emotions....

  4. Preface: Sports, Race, and Scholarship
    (pp. xvii-xxiv)
  5. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xxv-xxviii)
  6. Introduction: The Realities of Racism and Discrimination in America
    (pp. 1-19)

    C. L. R. James has written eloquently on the role of race in sports. Players of all races and classes could come together and participate in a game, such as his beloved cricket, without regard to race or class. Race was rarely an issue among the players once on the field. But in James’s West Indian cricket world, racism kept black players from playing for some clubs, from being captains of the ones for which they could play, and from involvement in the overall management of the sport. Race problems in America today similarly impact on the business of sports....

  7. ONE The Roots of Racism and Discrimination in Sports
    (pp. 20-35)

    Small statues of black jockeys, usually dressed in bright red coats and holding a ring or lantern have for decades been a status symbol on the lawns of suburban homes in the United States. The approximately three-foot-high lawn ornaments often feature oversized lips and flared nostrils. The origin of the lawn jockey is uncertain, although there are numerous stories explaining its history. The director of education for the Smithsonian’s Anacostia Museum, Zora Martin-Felton, relates a version of its origin in which the statuettes grew out of a story told about the frozen figure of George Washington’s eightyear-old slave “Jocko.” According...

  8. TWO Sitting in with the “Good Old Boys”: Ownership
    (pp. 36-61)

    One possible path for decreasing actual or perceived racism against African-Americans in any business setting is increased African-American ownership. The broad assumption accompanying this remedy is that increased diversity in the ownership of an industry will decrease occurrences of discrimination.¹

    Table 2 illustrates percentages of team ownership by race.

    Clearly, diversity, a much discussed and analyzed concept, is absent from the ownership power centers of professional sports just as in other sectors of society.² In 1994, of the 275 individuals with ownership interests in the professional sports leagues of baseball, football, and basketball, only 7 were African-Americans. As table 2...

  9. THREE The Front Office and Antidiscrimination Law
    (pp. 62-75)

    Whether techniques are implemented to broaden the field of African-American candidates or the more extreme measure of counting race as a plus factor is taken, both are forms of affirmative action. All affirmative action programs must comply with the law. Competing tensions in antidiscrimination law create a conundrum that will not easily be solved. Unquestionably, this is not merely a sports issue but one for the populace at large. On the one hand, any form of affirmative action, even with regard to recruitment alone, may be viewed as reverse discrimination and a violation of the law.¹ On the other hand,...

  10. FOUR “Fear of a Black Planet”: The Front Office
    (pp. 76-102)

    The most visible nonplaying personnel in sports are those who reside in the front office. These parties include chief executive officers, team presidents, general managers, and the head coach, who straddles the line between the field or court and the administrative offices. The front office also includes such professionals as team doctors, lawyers, and accountants.

    Hiring decisions in the sports world are often difficult to understand. In 1987, Dr. Harry Edwards, a professor of sociology at the University of California at Berkeley, was hired by then Commissioner of Baseball Peter Ueberroth to help identify African-Americans for the front-office positions for...

  11. FIVE Color-Blind Propositions: The Collegiate Ranks
    (pp. 103-127)

    Just as with professional sports, the college ranks have had their share of Al Campanis-type statements. In 1968 the athletic director at the University of Texas at El Paso toldSports Illustrated,“In general, the nigger athlete is a little hungrier, and we have been blessed with having some real outstanding ones. We think they’ve done a lot for us, and we think we’ve done a lot for them.”¹ Although the statement was made nearly thirty years ago, the trail of racism runs as clearly through collegiate athletics as through the pros.²

    There are two race issues of principal concern...

  12. SIX “The White Man’s Ice Is Colder, His Sugar Sweeter, His Water Wetter, His Medicine Better”: Sports Agents
    (pp. 128-141)

    Should we be color-blind to the race of those we hire to provide professional services? This chapter examines the question by looking at the role of the African-American sports agent in representing African-American athletes. What role should race consciousness play in the agent-selection process?¹ Many outsiders see African-American sports agents representing successful members of their own race in contract negotiations as a natural occurrence. The reality is that until recently, such black-on-black representation was a rare event.²

    The lack of patronization by African-Americans of African-American businesses is apocryphal. The business relationship between African-American athletes and sports agents is not unique...

  13. SEVEN The Next Millennium
    (pp. 142-160)

    In the movieMondo Cane,New Guinean Aborigines built an airstrip, hoping to attract the planes that frequently passed overhead. They hoped to change the behavior of something they had no control over by putting all of the elements in place for the desired result—the landing of an aircraft. Antidiscrimination laws in the United States are often much like that airstrip. This is particularly true when the laws are interpreted to mean that color may not be a consideration in repairing racial inequities. A team, league, university, or sports management firm may not be violating any existing laws. Yet...

  14. NOTES
    (pp. 161-204)
  15. INDEX
    (pp. 205-212)
  16. Back Matter
    (pp. 213-213)