February and March were national months celebrating Black History and Women’s History respectively. Both months were to honor the strides the Nation has made in granting access to minorities and women into its majority ranks. Sports has been one of the first ranks to grapple with allowing access, and yet . . . .
Sports has always been a leader in helping society to see past the differences of skin color, facial features, dialect or spoken language, gender, nationality, and now, orientation. Despite the conversations having been started and movement been made, there are serious strides still to be made with diversity and inclusion especially in regards to gender and orientation.
Access has been granted but there remains a ceiling, or a cell block, that denies true diversity and inclusion for women and people of color. While the Tedx Talk given below by Anthony Jack deals with inclusion on a higher educational setting, it easily demonstrates common misconceptions that would apply to the sports industry or society in general.
Source: Tedx Talks
In the 48 years since the passing of Title IX, women have been constantly making strides up the sports industry ladder. Women have created and participated with teams on the youth, collegiate and professional levels. Today, women and girls play basketball, lacrosse, track, tennis, soccer, curling and many other sports. Women have also integrated the sports once known as “boys only” sports such as football, hockey, mixed martial arts, wrestling and boxing. They have integrated the “boys club” by becoming professional referees, team administrators and coaches.
The same is true for minorities. Since the first Black men integrated baseball in Toledo, Ohio in 1884 to Sammy Lee winning Olympic gold in diving at the 1948 London Games, people of color have risked their lives to prove their equality and garner respect not only for themselves but their communities. Minorities have worked hard to excel on the field as well as off the field becoming coaches, military personnel, authors, actors and even doctors–think Sammy Lee, again.
We owe the minority and women sports pioneers a debt of gratitude for having the courage to make us face the ugliness of bigotry and help the world to become more tolerant. Because of their faith and courage, players from all walks of life can come together on courts, fields, pitch and the ice. Sports teaches us the beauty of combining our cultures, our strengths and weaknesses as well as our personal beliefs to help us overcome obstacles and win championships.
Yet, there is still much more women and minorities must do to shatter the glass ceiling, or if you are person of color–the cell block, that seems to ever keep appearing within the sports industry. It is wonderful that young girls and women can finally can see someone who looks like them in various levels of sport. It is wonderful for a child of color to see someone in their hue or nationality accomplish great feats in the sporting arena. But the fight for the highest levels and equal pay continues. The fight continues to earn respect.
The fight continues to prove minorities and women are worthy. Perhaps, it is time for the industry to prove it’s worthy of their time, energy and talent.
Source: Sports Business Journal