Wanted: Black Owners in the NBA & NFL

September 19, 2011  |  

by Wayne Hodges

A good friend of mine asked me the other day: “Who won the NFL Lockout? ” I replied,”the owners.” He said: “Really? How so?” I said, “because the owners retained ownership.”

Let’s discuss the word ‘ownership’ for a second. It’s a term that doesn’t get enough attention in prominent black business circles.

The NFL and NBA, organizations that foster the two largest professional revenue sports in the United States, currently have one African-American majority owner: Michael Jordan of the thrifty nickel Charlotte Bobcats.

That’s it. Only one, which presents a glaring statistical anomaly.

See, 13 percent of the U.S. population is black. However, the NFL is 65 percent African-American and the NBA is 80 percent black.

The disproportionate ratio that exists between black athletes and African-American ownership illuminates our inability to seize corporate deed and title; even when the commodity is comprised of predominant black talent.

Not good. Not good at all.

This scenario, in a nutshell, describes my angst with black leadership. Both NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith and NBA Player’s Union executive Billy Hunter were thrust into battle during owner-imposed lockouts earlier this Summer.

Salary caps, revenue allocation, blood testing, training methods and player safety were among the items negotiated between union executives and franchise owners.

However, Hunter and Smith, both African-Americans, should’ve raised the issue of increasing black majority ownership during contract talks. It’s already too late for Smith. NFL players ratified a new 10-year collective bargaining agreement weeks ago.

Hunter, on the other hand, still has time.

Why is majority ownership important?

According to BusinessPundit.com, 78 percent of NFL players and 60 percent of NBA players are dead broke five years after retirement. Meaning? Ownership provides the best opportunity to secure wealth.

EXHIBIT A: Chris McAlister, a valuable member of the Baltimore Ravens Super Bowl team in 2000, insists he’s now broke and unemployed. His testimony comes after signing a lucrative $55 million dollar contract in 2004.

Seven years later, McAlister is destitute. He’s way behind on his $11,000 per month child support payments. And he’s living at home with his parents.

The lesson to learn here is that there’s no wealth in padding the pockets of others. True wealth is accompanied by an intangible bundle of rights. I’ve yet to hear of a sports franchise owner moving back home with his mama as a means for financial support.

Conversely, we hear these stories about professional athletes all the time.

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