The WNBA was the only major professional league to receive top marks in
a comprehensive study this week comparing opportunities for women and
minorities across five sports.
The University of Central Florida study examined the front office,
support staff, playing and coaching opportunities for women and
minorities in professional football, basketball, baseball and soccer,
along with colleges. Despite improvements in the NBA, Major League
Baseball and the MLS, women’s basketball received the only A overall in
researcher Richard Lapchick’s report card.
“There’s been a general improvement in the leagues over a period of
time,” Lapchick said. “I think the glaring gaps are at the college
level at what are considered to be the top positions,” he said.
Lapchick said all 11 Division I-A conference commissioners were White
and just three out of 117 coaches in the division were Black.
Though minority players made up about three-quarters of NBA and NFL
rosters, only the NBA, which has three Black presidents and CEOs, was
awarded an A for race among men’s leagues. Baseball maintained its B+
for race, but college and soccer lost slightly overall.
The grades were calculated by comparing percentages of minorities and
women in the country to percentages on teams and in sports management.
Leagues employing at least 24 percent minorities were given an A in
race, while those with 9 percent received a C – the lowest awarded. An
A in gender meant at least 40 percent of women employed in a given
category, with D’s awarded for 25 percent and F’s for anything below.
The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport, which completed the
study, noted that even leagues with low grades generally had better
records in diversity than the country at large.
The NFL scored a C/C+ for combined race and gender numbers, the worst
among all surveyed. Despite earning a B in race, football scored lowest
on gender (D+), with no female league officials, head or assistant
coaches or principals in charge of a pro team.
NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said the league doesn’t see any value in the
report and didn’t contribute figures for its compilation. Instead,
researchers said they used media guides from each individual team.
“We don’t spend any time looking at their figures,” Aiello said. “We
think it’s irrelevant and it’s purely a publicity gimmick. There are
more women and minorities working in the NFL than ever, and diversity
in our workplace is an important league priority.”
For the second time since 2001, the WNBA received an A in both race and
gender, and scored higher than all men’s leagues for minorities in
league office, assistant coaching staff, team presidents and general
“It’s nice to have an idea of where you stand in the marketplace,” said Brian McIntyre, spokesman for the NBA and WNBA.
However, a gender gap continued in men’s leagues and colleges, with
women claiming just over 41 percent of head coaching jobs for women’s
NCAA teams across all sports.
Despite good overall numbers for minorities, the NBA received failing
grades for having too few minority vice presidents and team
Major League Soccer turned in top gender percentages for senior and
professional administration after receiving an F last year, posting a B
— Associated Press
© Copyright 2005 by DiverseEducation.com