Many have observed that professional sports have lagged behind the current commitment to diversify government, educational, and corporate institutions.
The National Hockey League, for example, is well known for its failure to recruit black players, with more than 90% of its players being White. And while everyone agrees that more needs to be done, it is the National Basketball Association that has finally moved beyond talking points with a bold program of reform.
In a blockbuster announcement last week, the NBA promised to lead the way toward a truly diverse future by pledging to make all NBA teams demographically “look like America.”
As one owner who wished to remain anonymous said, "The fact that the league is 72% Black and skews very very Young is a problem. How can we ask the NHL and baseball to do better if we don’t show the way, by limiting Black players to no more than 13% of each team’s roster and adding more White, Hispanic and Asian players, men as well women and maybe a Senior citizen or two?”
“Bulls..t!” shouted ESPN’s volcanic sports commentator , Stephen Smith, in a reaction typical of basketball aficionados. “This is f..king ridiculous! Who the hell is gonna watch a bunch of pale White elderly dwarves escort a basketball up and down the court? WTF? We gonna have Macy's Parade fast breaks? Wheelchairs and diaper bags on the sideline? Nobody’s gonna watch this shit!...Sure, you got a few good White players, but you gonna bench LeBron and watch Jeffrey Toobin try to dunk off a ladder with one hand down his shorts?” Well, maybe I'd watch that," Smith conceded sourly.
In the face of the fan firestorm that greeted the NBA’s announcement of their new diversity goals, league officials reacted by saying that just because rosters would be made to reflect the new diversity targets, it didn’t mean that the new White players would actually see much court time. “We know very well that White guys can’t jump. And most of them can’t dribble or shoot either. So, on the court, what you see now, which is that 72% of players are black, will stay the same at least for the time being. But to meet our diversity targets, we have calculated that we will need to expand the average NBA team bench from the current 13 players to around 83. It’s a real commitment. But we ought to do it if we mean what we say about diversity.”
Conservative media made the most of this fracas among the woke. Sean Hannity of Fox News was among the media talking heads turning the left’s words back on them, ironically suggesting that any alleged deficit of basketball skills among Whites must be structural, since everyone knows that people are equal in every way. If given the proper opportunities, as many Whites as Blacks would excel at basketball, and the reverse would be true in hockey, Hannity claimed, tongue firmly in cheek.
To those who complained that the quality of the game would suffer in the meantime if players were not drafted on the basis of their actual skills and abilities but by skin color in order to rectify past discrimination, Hannity said, “You want to see slam dunks by five-foot tall White guys, just lower the net. Besides, who watches basketball, anyway? Gotta cut this segment short now. I’m on my way to a hockey game.”
In a related story, the AP reports that Chinese authorities have applauded the new NBA commitment and promised to support the effort if the NBA would agree to slightly amend its diversity template to reflect the more relevant global racial balance, which would imply the addition of fifty or so Chinese nationals to each team, as Asians constitute about 60% of the world’s population.
The NBA has not replied to a request for comment.