|Are Black folks to be exploited for the entertainment of the general
population wishing to be in their favorite athlete's Nike collectibles? Am I
the only one or is it a general consensus among us all? Do we realize that
there are no Black team owners in professional sports today? Forget the mule
- we want our "Forty Acres and a Team". Can there be some love?
We've all watched the unbelievable escapades of Jerry Rice and the many last
second shots of Michael Jordan clinging to the edge of our seats and holding
our breath till we turn blue in the face (or fall off the chair.) We can all
recount our favorite moment in sports. For some it may be Roger Maris
breaking Babe Ruth's home run record or Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire
shattering that same record almost 40 years later. Every sports fan knows of
the blood, sweat and tears that our heroes endure everyday for the enjoyment
of us - the fans and their own competitive fire. But it's no secret that over
the years, Black athletes have had to endure so much more. Being heralded by
awed onlookers for their feats on the fields of athletic combat, and later
persecuted for the color of their skin by those same fans.
Jackie Robinson is considered by some to be the greatest baseball player of
the time, but what's more important to me about Mr. Robinson isn't his
statistics. Instead, it's the courage he displayed to cross over the color
lines as the first Black baseball athlete to play in the major leagues.
Regardless of the reasoning for the league to "accept" a "Negro" into their
"plantation" or the motivation behind Mr. Robinson's intentions is
irrelevant. The main concern is that he did do it - without even knowing the
significant role he would play in all sports today. There have been so many
important Black heroes in sports history from Wilt Chamberlain and Bill
Russell to Reggie Jackson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Yet, none can claim
ownership to a professional team.
In today's world of so-called unity, love, and technology, the prejudices are
not so blatant. But don't be fooled - just because you don't see them,
doesn't mean they aren't there. The masks are thicker and more elusive. The
strides that have been made over the years are undeniable, however. Michael
Jordan is Vice-President of operations for the Washington Wizards, Ahmad
Rashad is probably one of the most well known sports commentators and O.J.
Simpson is, well ... he's O.J. Simpson - I'll leave that one alone. Despite
the bumps and bruises Black athletes deal with, there has to be an
opportunity for one of our own to be an owner. What's the problem, then?
Magic Johnson has tried with little success to be part owner of the team he's
led to four championships. I'm sure after all the laughing has subsided it
was followed by "no way." Michael Jordan led his Chicago Bulls to six, count
them, six championships in years (he had retired for two of the eight) and
proved the team just wasn't the same without him. After he retired for the
last time, Michael believed he was in a position for part ownership of the
Bulls. Well, needless to say, after the Bulls' owners got off the phone with
the Lakers' owners and the joking had subsided, Michael was also met with a
"no way, Mike, but have a good day. Dribble that dream on your own court." I
can hear the excuses now: "you were a basketball player. What the hell do
you know about running a team?" What about Jerry West? "Well, that's
different, Magic." In my humble opinion, I believe if the Bird that couldn't
fly - Larry Bird - wanted to make a move like Mike and Magic, the powers that
be would probably make him commissioner of the NBA.
It could be argued that a Black athlete isn't capable of running a
multi-million dollar franchise. And, yeah, we could probably go at it for
hours. But I'll say this: we will never know until it happens. I'm sure at
some point it was said a Black baseball player would never survive in Major
League Baseball, but then along came Jackie Robinson. Any doubters that want
to take a stand can RIDE THE BENCH.
To comment on this or any other column by Drew "The Truth" Alexander, email