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Major League White: How Pro Sports Aren't What They Seem

There are more than 150 major league professional sports franchises in the United States, and while the players they employ are diverse, the lack of diversity in team ownership is downright shocking. Would you believe that there is only ONE Black majority owner among the six biggest leagues?

MLB Commissioner Bud Selig

By Chris Hoenig


MLB Commissioner Bud Selig

Diversity in professional sports is evident on the fields, courts and rinks across the country. Just don't look for it in owner's boxes.

The media firestorm and outpouring of disgust that followed the broadcasting of Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling's long-held racist beliefs is shining a spotlight on diversity within major league sports. The diversity on the field … and the lack of it off.

There are 153 teams among the six biggest professional major league sports in the United States and Canada: the National Football League (32 teams), the National Basketball Association (30 teams), Major League Baseball (30 teams), the National Hockey League (30 teams), Major League Soccer (19 teams) and the Women's National Basketball Association (12 teams).

Among these 153 teams, there is ONE Black majority owner.

The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport (TIDES), at the University of Central Florida's College of Business Administration, keeps track of the diversity of players, coaches and assistant coaches, team management, league management and ownership by race, ethnicity and gender in several of the pro sports leagues. Their 2013 survey, which includes more than 4,000 professional athletes, finds only one major league sport where a majority of players are white: Major League Baseball (61.2 percent of players). Only Major League Soccer even comes close (47.7 percent).

More than three-quarters of NBA players (76.3 percent) and nearly two-thirds of NFL players (66.3 percent) are Black, while Major League Baseball has the fewest Black players at just 8.3 percent. Latinos have a strong presence in MLB (28.2 percent) and MLS (24.1 percent). (TIDES doesn't measure the NHL, where the racial/ethnic makeup of ownership was researched independently by DiversityInc.)

But when it comes to ownership, the diversity ends. NBA legend Michael Jordan, owner of the Charlotte Bobcats, is the only Black majority owner in any of the leagues. There are 23 other "people of color," as defined by TIDES, that own some part of an NBA team, but none have a controlling stake in a team. These include five Black and two Latino business partners of Jordan's in Charlotte, each owning a minority stake in the team. Famous minority owners also include actor Will Smith and his wife, Jada Pinkett-Smith (Philadelphia 76ers) and rap star Shawn "Jay Z" Carter (Brooklyn Nets).

(Since the survey was conducted in 2013, Carter has divested himself of his interest in the Nets to start an athlete-representation agency, and the league's Sacramento Kings were sold to a group led by Vivek Ranadivé, who was born in Mumbai.)

TIDES lists five Black owners in the WNBA, but all own a minority stake in their respective teams.

In the NFL, the 2012 sale of the Jacksonville Jaguars to Pakistani-born American businessman Shahid Khan made Khan the league's first and only nonwhite majority owner.

The only Latino majority owner in professional sports is in MLB, where Arturo Moreno owns the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Moreno is also the only majority owner in baseball who is a person of color, although longtime NBA star Magic Johnson (Los Angeles Dodgers) and Paxton Baker (Washington Nationals) do own minority stakes in their teams.

Major League Soccer has perhaps the most diverse list of majority owners: Only 85.3 percent of people who control franchises are white. But none are Black—nearly 10 percent of owners are Latino, and the rest are Asian. The ownership structure of MLS—which is run as a single entity—is also unique, as the owners are actually investors in the league as a whole, and have controlling rights over a particular franchise.

Of the 30 NHL teams, Charles Wang, the Shanghai-born owner of the New York Islanders, is the only nonwhite owner.

Motel 6 to Pay Millions in Settlement for Giving Guest Lists to ICE

Latino guests were the main targets, and individual checks aren't nearly enough for the "inconvenience."

Motel 6 has agreed to pay at least $7.6 million to settle a class-action lawsuit after multiple locations of the hotel chain surrendered guest lists to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents.

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Trump Shares Latest Racist and Xenophobic Midterm Ad

"This is distracting, divisive Donald at his worst," said Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez.

President Trump tweeted a video on Wednesday with the following commentary: "It is outrageous what the Democrats are doing to our country. Vote Republican now! http://Vote.GOP."

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Black Men Get Candid About Mental Health

Celebrities are seeking out ways to fight the mental health stigma within the Black community.

YOUTUBE

Studies show Black men are particularly concerned about the stigma of mental illness, and apprehensive about seeking help.

Wizdom Powell, PhD, MPH, director of the Health Disparities Institute at University of Connecticut Health and associate professor of psychiatry, said that men of color are generally discouraged from seeking any kind of help, including help with mental health issues.

But some brave men in the very public eye, have decided to tackle the issue hoping to change the way the Black community views getting help.

Earlier this month, Chance the Rapper donated $1 million to help improve mental health services in Chicago. Six mental health providers in Cook County will each get $100,000 grants, and SocialWorks is starting an initiative called "My State of Mind" to help connect people with treatment.

NFL player Brandon Marshall, who struggles with Borderline Personality Disorder, started a nonprofit Project 375.org to help eradicate stigma, increase awareness and improve training and care for youth. He wrote a powerful essay called "The Stigma," last year, where he was candid with his own battles and some of his coping mechanisms that included meditation and journaling.

The conversations around health are happening in other ways, in interviews, on albums, online and on screen.

Jay-Z has come out in interviews to talk about how the experience of therapy helped him grow as a man, overcoming situations, which he describes in his lyrics.

Related Story: Black Men Defy the Racist Stigma That Says Their Trauma is Their Own Fault

On his album "4:44," he released a mini documentary "Footnotes for MaNyfaCedGod," where he gathered a group of Black men to talk candidly about therapy, self-care, and mental health awareness.

He also advocated for therapy at younger ages and in schools.

Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson posted about his mother's suicide attempt on social media and went on "Oprah's Master Class" on OWN to discuss his own depression and how important it is to know that you are not alone in your struggles.

Related Story: Taraji P Henson on Mental Health: We're Demonized for Expressing Rage for Traumas We've Been Through

Rapper Kid Cudi, in posting about and seeking help for his anxiety struggles back in 2016, inspired users on social media to start the #YouGoodMan hashtag, which became a place for Black men to share knowledge and their stories with support.

Primetime TV shows are breaking the silence in the Black community as well.

Sterling K. Brown star of "This Is Us," Romany Malco Jr. of "A Million Little Things," and Kendrick Sampson and Issa Rae of "Insecure" all struggle on screen with issues and survive.

These actors are tackling conversations around getting help for depression, suicide ideation, panic attacks, and trauma — many issues that plague the Black community based on everyday living experiences.

And talking about it helps.

Marcus and Markeiff Morris, twin brothers and NBA players talked to ESPN about their struggles with depression and trauma from growing up in a violent neighborhood. Marcus Morris, who shared their story, encouraged others, "If you have depression, you should be trying to get rid of it instead of bottling it up and letting it weigh on you and weigh on you and weigh on you."

Markeiff, initially agreed to speak about his illness, but bowed out, possibly a sign that he's not quite ready. There are many men like him.

Hopefully, the more men that come forward to advocate and share, the more others will feel empowered to do the same.

Reader Question: Why do you think Black men struggle to speak openly about their how stress impacts their mental health?

Latino Man Called Racial Slurs at Chicago Cubs Game: Video

Racial slurs hurled in bleachers on Hispanic Heritage Night resulted in a brawl.

TWITTER

The Chicago Cubs might have broken their long drought of world series titles but they have not changed their racist fan base.

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Inspiring Words of Wisdom for Latina Women and Immigrants

"Take advantage of the excellent resources and tools available to you," says Corporate Finance Manager, Elsa Carballo

Produced by: Alana Winns
Videography by: Christian Carew

Latino Employees Fired in Miami for Being Too Latino

Company leadership says loud, sexy, Hispanic employees with ethnic mannerisms are not allowed.

REUTERS

Former employees at Swire Properties filed a lawsuit in August against the company claiming they were fired because there was no place for "Hispanic Emotionalism" at work.

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Sarah Huckabee Sanders Admits to False Statement on Obama and Black Employment

Trump's administration, again, attempts to downplay the accomplishments of the first Black president.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders admitted Tuesday evening on Twitter that she gave false information when attempting to tout President Trump's record on job creation for Black Americans.

Sanders told reporters, Tuesday, during a White House press briefing:

"This president, since he took office, created 700,000 new jobs for African-Americans. After eight years of President Obama in office, he only created 195,000 jobs for African-Americans. President Trump, in his first year and a half, has already tripled what President Obama did in eight years."

She greatly undercounted the number of jobs created under Obama.

According to the official count from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, since the Great Recession, most of the employment gains for Black people took place during the Obama administration.

From January 2009 to January 2017, Obama increased employment for Black Americans by about 3 million jobs.

"Sanders' error dramatically alters the comparison between the two presidents," according to PolitiFact.

"Rather than Trump tripling Obama's increase in African-American employment, it is actually Obama who in eight years quadrupled the increase Trump oversaw in a year and a half. And Obama had to deal with the fall-out from the Great Recession during that period."

After the backlash from Sanders' statement, the White House's Council of Economic Advisers (CEA) said in a tweet: "Apologies for @WhiteHouseCEA's earlier miscommunication to @PressSec."

Sanders then re-tweeted the CEA, adding her own message:

Trump Tries to Belittle LeBron James with Hateful Tweet, Social Media Users Defend the NBA Star and Philanthropist

"What responsible and right-thinking adult can point to Donald Trump as a role model for our youth?" Former CIA Director John O. Brennan said, in a tweet.

The president of the United States has again taken to Twitter to try and demean anyone who disagrees with his policies and practices. This time, his target was NBA superstar LeBron James, who recently addressed Trump's influence on sports.

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