The movie "42" opened with rave reviews and high ratings. I found it to be a heartwarming movie with a wonderful "heroic" storyline. Jackie Robinson was indeed a trailblazer who paved the way for generations of athletes to come. It takes a person of character and strong intestinal fortitude to endure what Robinson went through in those early years. In an article by Mark Newman on the MLB.com website, Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig is quoted saying:
"I've often said that baseball's proudest moment and its most powerful social statement came when Jackie Robinson first set foot on a Major League Baseball field,...and '42' captures that event brilliantly."
Although every professional sport played today has been integrated, when it comes to ownership things are quite different. A Philadelphia Tribune article written in October 2011 stated a stark reality. In 122 sports ownership groups (32 NFL teams, and 30 each in the other three sports), there was just one Black majority owner among all of those franchises, in all of those sports. In 2011 basketball great Michael Jordan was the sole African American with a majority interest in a professional sports team, the Charlotte Bobcats.
It is fitting that the second African American majority owner is also a sports legend and the team he has a stake in is the Los Angeles Dodgers. Earvin "Magic" Johnson led a group of investors who paid a little over 2 billion dollars (yes, that's a 2 with nine zeros after it) for the bankrupt franchise.
When it comes to owning a sports franchise we're talking about some serious money.
The Philadelphia Tribune article states it quite clearly:
"So you see, when you come to the table to talk about sports franchise ownership, you simply have to be possessed of serious money. That is probably why “relatively wealthy” Blacks, such as Reggie Jackson, Bill Cosby and the late Bruce Llewellyn, were denied access to the “club,” when they tried to buy into the pro football and pro baseball ownership elite.....
Integration opened the door, economic empowerment sets us free.
It starts now...let's get this thing done....
Ernest R. Heyward is the Founder and President of the Marketplace for Social Awareness and Social Responsibility Inc.