Opinion: WNBA shows rest of sports how to run a diverse league and the A-plus grade proves it
During Black History Month, with the series 28 Black Stories in 28 days, USA TODAY Sports examines the issues, challenges and opportunities Black athletes and sports officials face after the nation’s reckoning on race in 2020.
The WNBA again received high grades from The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport (TIDES). In fact, the highest possible grade, an A-plus.
But the WNBA's impressive marks are only part of the story.
This is the 16th consecutive year the WNBA has received high marks from the study, authored by Richard Lapchick. The league remains the standard for how to diversify and practice inclusivity. Not talk about it. Actually do it.
“The WNBA continues to set an example for equitable racial and gender hiring practices across all professional leagues," wrote Lapchick in the report. "The WNBA had many all-time highs reported in this (report). They included the percentage of women in team CEO/President positions, women in team vice president and above positions and people of color in assistant coaching positions, which led to an overall grade of A+.”
This story hasn't gotten a lot of attention but it's actually one of the most interesting of the month so far.
The reason why is when you hear, for example, people in the NFL say privately there aren't enough Black coaches in the pipeline, or they can't find enough general managers of color, we know that isn't really true. There are plenty. NFL owners simply don't want to hire them.
The WNBA doesn't make excuses. It's just gets results and does so because the mentality of the league is it wants results.
The WNBA is one of five professional leagues reviewed by the study with the NFL, MLS, NBA and MLB being the others. The NBA had an overall A-minus for 2020, followed by an overall B grade for MLB and MLS and B-minus for the NFL. The NFL received a failing grade for its coaching hires. Only one Black head coach, the Texans' David Culley, was hired this cycle.
“At the WNBA, we’re encouraged to have had many all-time highs in this year’s Race and Gender Report Card,” Commissioner Cathy Engelbert said in a statement. “That said, we remain committed to continuing to be one of the most inclusive and progressive leagues, and will remain vigilant in our focus on developing league and team cultures that promote diverse hiring at all levels.”
No, the WNBA doesn't just talk. It takes action.
Other leagues need to take notice.
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