NBA Receives “A” for Diversity. Bullshit.

The University of Central Florida’s Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport recently awarded the NBA with an “A” rating in racial and gender diversity.

The Boston Globe reports, “Thirty-six percent of the professional positions in the league office are held by people of color, while women held 42 percent of the professional positions. Thirty-three percent of the coaches and 26 percent of the GMs are people of color. All these categories are higher than in any other men’s professional league.”

Sorry to state what should be obvious, but that’s not nearly good enough.

There are eight general managers of color. One black owner (Michael Jordan). And zero female coaches.

In fact, the league’s visible female figures consist of (1) Jeannie Buss: daughter of Lakers owner Jerry Buss, famous for posing for Playboy and being more qualified than her brother, Jimmy, who will likely assume control of the team; and (2) Violet Palmer, a.k.a. “Queenie”: the NBA’s sole female referee.

I find it offensive that we’re talking about 30-40 percent numbers in this day and age, much less applauding them. Not to mention that women are still paid lackluster wages to dance in swimsuits during timeouts (Laker girls made $85 a game as of 2000).

Better than the other major leagues does not mean the job is done.

Asked why there have been no other female referees hired since 1997, Palmer once joked, “I guess I set the bar pretty high.”

We really could set it a lot higher.

(UPDATE: Rants turning into dialog = always a good thing. H.I.D.I.A. co-founder Paolo responds here, and I continue the conversation here)

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6 thoughts on “NBA Receives “A” for Diversity. Bullshit.

  1. Usher, Jay-Z, Magic Johnson, and a few other African American owners were left off the only one black owner list, which also includes an African American woman, Sheila Johnson, part owner of the Wizards.

    Also, I would like to hear more about why it’s bad that there are zero women head coaches. Basketball, like most sports, cannot feature multi-gendered teams due to simple genetics deficiencies. Woman are, for the most part, shorter, weaker, and to put it bluntly, lesser athletes, FOR THE MOST PART. Obviously there are some exceptions out there. But the fact is that NBA rules are crafted around the capabilities of its male players. A woman would have a hard time relating to her players, there is a better option out there (college basketball or the WNBA), and the league has plenty of player-coaches in competition that will always give them the edge over any experience or talent she may show.

    Oh, and before you come back with the Van Chancellor and Geno Auriemma argument, note that part about the NBA developing its rules after the capabilities of the men that play it. Any form of women’s basketball, be it college or WNBA, is a copy and paste of the men’s rules, with minor tweaks. So, a guy could coach dudes for twenty years and slide over into the women’s side of things with little learning curve.

  2. Norris I think you highlight the problem with women in sports. It seems obvious as far as athletes are concerned that the rules crafted around the most popular sports obviously have men in mind. Its one thing for a woman to be able to drive a car more skillfully than other men (re: danica patrick), but its completely different for a woman to be genetically predisposed to dunk over dwight howard, wreck zdeno chara against the boards, or hit a bases-clearing double off of tim lincecum. However, what about coaching? Are you suggesting women don’t have the mental capacity or strategic know-how to coach a basketball team to a ring? Can they not understand how best to utilize kobe in the triangle offense?

    And what about women owners? Or black owners? I think what kerem is getting at with his post is that the state of diversity where money matters is representative of diversity in society as a whole: white men have the money and have the power, and the rest are just subservient to that.

    So honestly, I think what we need to do is dissect diversity in sports into two issues: one should address the role of money in sports in relation to whites, blacks, and women; the other side should address the sexism of sports vis-a-vis the role of women as coaches in male-dominated sports

  3. Norris — point taken about the owners. I was referring to majority owners.

    I absolutely disagree with you, however, with the following: “A woman would have a hard time relating to her players, there is a better option out there (college basketball or the WNBA), and the league has plenty of player-coaches in competition that will always give them the edge over any experience or talent she may show.”

    Even if you can convince me that there are inherent differences in men and women’s skills to the extent that it is all okay to speak in absolutes at all, I would counter that the very thing that makes women different, and outsiders, could well stand to give them a competitive advantage.

  4. Pingback: NBA Receives “A” for Diversity. Not Bullshit: A Counterpoint | hoops, I did it again

  5. Pingback: Sports blog debating the legitimacy of the NBA’s recent ”A” rating for diversity

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