University of St. Thomas Law Professor David Grenardo has published "Getting to the Root of the Problem: Where Are All the Black Owners in Sports?" The article, forthcoming in the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law Review, discusses the lack of Black owners, head coaches and other lead team executives in professional sports in the U.S. and examines why current efforts, such as the Rooney Rule, are insufficient.
The paper was peer reviewed by St. Thomas Law Clinical Professor Carl Warren, who is an expert on race and the law and director of the St. Thomas Community Justice Project. Second-year law students Alex Kautza, Gabrielle Murphy, Lena Atchan, Ajang Ekinde and Stella Haberman assisted Grenardo with research.
Many decry the lack of Black and other racial minority head coaches and team executives in professional sports in the United States. The problem lies partly in the fact that people usually hire people who are like them. The owners of sports teams hire the head coaches, along with the lead team executives (LTE), such as the general manager and team CEO/president who help run the team. Of the 151 sports teams in the five major professional sports in the United States, the current total of majority owners who are Black equals one: Michael Jordan. The vast majority of owners are White males, as are the head coaches and LTE in those leagues.
The lack of Black owners, head coaches, and LTE can also be explained by concepts attributable to racism, such as institutional racism and White supremacy, as well as implicit and unconscious bias. Critical Race Theory, which has become highly politicized, also sheds light on these issues in professional sports. If leagues want to see more Black head coaches and LTE, then the people making those hiring decisions must change. Simply put, if Blacks become majority owners of teams, then they will start hiring more Black head coaches and LTE. This article proposes a plan for increasing Black owners in the major sports leagues in the United States.