The evolution of Blacks being integrated into sports leagues that were at one time, all-White

Aubrey Bruce says, ‘The status quo, gotta go’



For more than a century, people of color have continued to dilute and “whitewash” their value by pining and whining because they have perverted their own sense of value. Why? Well, because they have not, under most circumstances, ignored or passed up the opportunity to compare their talent to the talent of their White counterparts.

Black folks have continuously lacked the self-esteem and strength of character to feel comfortable competing against themselves. Black folks fight to compete against inferior athletes that are paid more for their services as the bottom lines of franchises increase, resulting in White athletes and White owners, enjoying the windfall.

How much sense does that make? How does this work? Your store is closed. You soon find new employment with another store that pays you less and works you more. However, when it is all said and done, you continue to have a sense of fulfillment working for the store that pays you less and works you more. Does that seem to be OK? Oftentimes, change can be slower than molasses and there may be times that change doesn’t come at all.

For example, when the Pittsburgh Steelers ushered in the 1970s, they had become generational losers. However, at that point management began a metamorphosis by beginning to alter the racial composition of their team.  The Steelers began drafting Black  players from small Black colleges because the team began to discover that many of those institutions had a hidden wealth of talent, and the race of those players began to take a back seat to their talent. From 1969-1975 the Pittsburgh Steelers drafted 24 players from HBCUs, more than any other NFL franchise during that same time. The value of Black athletes to the NFL was beginning to increase.

The demographics and the competitive landscape of the NCAA, college football, and the HBCUs also began to simultaneously experience a seismic cultural shift beginning in 1970. That was the year that the SEC, as well as the head coach of Alabama, Bear Bryant, and his lily-White University of Alabama squad, permitted the integrated USC Trojans to travel below the Mason-Dixon to take on the Alabama Crimson Tide. After the Tide was promptly smoked by running back Sam “Bam” Cunningham and a USC squad that featured many other African American players. The Trojans would be the first fully integrated team to play the Crimson Tide.  The thorough shellacking that the Tide received at the hands of the Trojans signaled the beginning of the end of the White-against-White competition, not only in the Southeastern Conference but in many other NCAA men’s football conferences.

However, integration represented the death warrant for the football programs at many Black schools.

Young Black athletes began to become enamored with the opportunity to have a chance to play in front of national audiences, increasing the opportunities for them to play professional football on Sundays. Not only do many Black athletes find wealth at the end of the collegiate athletic tunnel but there is a glutton of sports agents, financial advisers, attorneys, real estate agents, and a myriad of “gold seekers” perched as if they are vultures on a fence, waiting to descend on a fresh kill. Financial advisers that have never scored a touchdown, or made a layup are not even remotely shy when it comes to supposedly putting this performer on the road to even greater riches. I would like to ask you a simple question. If financial advisers are so astute regarding money management matters and growth, why are the majority of the funds that advisers earmark and target for investments taken from the capital reservoirs of many young and naïve athletes of color?

All this is because Black folks in general found little or no value in competing against themselves. Black athletes fought to compete against inferior athletes while increasing the bottom lines of White-owned franchises so White athletes could be paid more. How much sense does that make? You close down your store to go work for another store that values you less and pays you less. Yet, you feel more satisfied and fulfilled.

Contrary to popular belief, equal “screen time” does not indirectly or directly increase economic opportunities, it only creates a false impression of economic progress. Just because a player receives marquee-like publicity does not mean that player receives a marquee share of the pie.

The NBA is the only existing professional sports organization that even comes close to equitable market- and revenue-sharing with the talent that is the reason for the league’s success. The growth and the increase of the financial reservoir of the players have been grudgingly permitted, yet it is steadily growing. The ownership aspect of the NBA still leaves a lot to be desired but the players of color by far have a far bigger megaphone than is provided in any other sport. If other sports at least attempt to partially emulate the efforts of the NBA, then there may be some hope for the economic expansion of athletes to invest in and take on the substantial roles of ownership.



About Post Author


From the Web

Skip to content