The impact of racial calculus on American society in this post-George Floyd pandemic world has been enormous, especially in professional and college sports. The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport (TIDES) recently released a comprehensive review and analysis of the hiring practices of Major League Baseball, the Women’s National Basketball Association, the National Football League, the National Basketball Association, Major League Soccer and College Sport.
The Complete Race and Gender Report Card 2021
The WNBA was the only professional league with an overall rating of A or higher (A+), and the NBA (B+) was second. MLS and the NFL both got Bs, a C+ for MLB and a C for College Sport.
For racial hiring practices, the WNBA again leads the pros (A+), and MLS and NBA both got Aces, followed by the NFL and MLB (both with B+).
However, for hiring by gender, four of the five leagues and College Sport posted declines. The NFL (C+) and MLS (C) saw only increases, but the NBA (B) and WNBA (A+) achieved above-average ratings in their respective reports. College Sport, MLB and MLS have all received Cs.
“The biggest disappointment is the continued decline across all sports” in hiring by gender, TIDES director Richard Lapchick said. “We’re still talking about these huge gaps…especially in college sports.”
College sports, which TIDES says “remains one of the worst diversity statistics in sports,” saw a roughly 5% decline in racial hiring, the largest decline of any report. MLS saw the largest increase (4.8%) in hiring by gender, and the NFL saw the second-largest improvement (3%).
The 2021 report cards were the first time “bonus points” were awarded for hiring milestones and special social justice initiatives, and for the first time racial and gender ratings for CEOs/Presidents of team.
But in the three positions of head coach, general manager and president, “that’s where the leagues don’t do as well,” Lapchick continued. The WNBA (41.7 people of color) and MLS (42.9 people of color) both got A+ in this regard, followed by the NBA (30%, A), MLB (20%, B+) and the NFL (almost 16%, C+) .
Professional football has come under fire of late as Brian Flores’ racial discrimination hiring trial last week added two more black coaches. Earlier this month, the NFL announced that all 32 teams must have a woman or POC as an offensive assistant for the 2022 season.
“I believe the Commissioner’s Office is making a sincere effort to try to achieve this,” Lapchick observed, “because the Rooney Rule clearly hasn’t produced the results they want on its own.” But the longtime diversity and inclusion advocate and TIDES director is quick to warn that the owners of the majority white team are slow to change.
“We have a group of owners who make the [hiring] decisions,” he noted. “I probably said that when we talked about the 32 NFL owners who have backed Donald Trump, which tells me that they’re not necessarily going to be particularly enthusiastic about who’s coaching on their turf… who isn’t. not alike.”
Collegiate sports are also dragging their feet when it comes to diversity: “It’s frustrating for me,” admitted Lapchick. “We pleaded for [more diversity]and the NCAA has always said that individual schools would not accept it.
However, the West Coast Conference in 2020 became the first collegiate league to adopt hiring standards for diversity – Bill Russell’s rule, which requires each member school to interview at least one qualified black or POC candidate for the head coach, assistant coach and senior management positions. including sports director.
“We also speak at other conferences,” Lapchick said. TIDES is currently working on 2022 report cards, starting with MLB, which are slated for release this month.
Charles Hallman is an award-winning journalist and sports columnist at the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder.