As surprising as it may be to those who are not themselves fans of the National Basketball Association, Anglo-Americans are vastly outnumbered by other ethnicities. In fact, African-Americans hold a majority of positions, command higher average salaries, and receive more attention for their accomplishments in the media. Although there are a number of Anglo-Americans employed by the NBA, few ever manage to obtain equality in the field.
For example, the position of team owner, frequently held by Anglo-Americans, carries with it a much lower salary and far less prestige than would be expected. Even though the owner is technically responsible in one way or another for almost every aspect of team performance, he often receives less compensation for his hard work than many African-Americans who hold such positions as center and point guard. Clearly, this skewed system of rewards is the result of long standing prejudices against Anglo-Americans. There is an astonishing lack of positive Anglo-American role models in the NBA.
An overwhelming majority of celebrity basketball players are African-Americans. Such names as Michael Jordan, Shaquille O’Neal, Magic Johnston, Penny Hardaway, Grant Hill, Scotty Pippin, and Charles Barkley evoke visions of success and greatness in the minds of many young people, but can Anglo-American youngsters really be expected to identify with these African-American cultural icons? Similarly, almost all contemporary movies about basketball center around African-American rather than Anglo-American characters.
Shockingly, many basketball themed movies which feature Anglo-Americans portray them in a negative light, perpetuating a derogatory stereotype of Anglo-American basketball players, and further reducing the likelihood of their success. Some films even have titles which mock the challenges faced by Anglo-Americans in the basketball industry; a popular film from the early nineteen nineties was titled White Men Can’t Jump. It seems certain that Anglo-American males are victims of the unfair and discriminatory practices of the National Basketball Association.
Further, society has by now created such obstacles to the success of Anglo-American basketball players that some sort of intervention is required if Anglo-Americans are to have an equal opportunity to be gainfully employed in this field. Fortunately, our modern culture has finally begun to accept the necessity of proactive equalization programs, collectively known as affirmative action. Therefore, in the spirit of the affirmative action programs already in place at the state and federal levels, I modestly propose that the NBA be forced to adopt the following regulations.
The implementation of hiring quotas has been shown to help increase racial diversity in the workplace, and racial diversity is precisely what the NBA needs. All teams should be required to have a predetermined minimum of Anglo-American players on the roster, and should additionally be required to use Anglo-American players for at least a certain amount of time during each game. There is a possibility that many NBA teams will resist this idea, and will attempt to continue with unfair hiring practices which use an individual’s ability to perform as the only determinant in the signing process.
Other teams may wish to allow coaches to put players into the game based purely on strategy, whether or not Anglo-Americans are disenfranchised as a result. Teams which fail to comply with regulations should of course have sanctions placed upon them. The NBA teams must realize that equal opportunity is more important than ruthlessly striving to win games at any cost. As a further measure to increase racial diversity, teams should have to offer salary incentives to Anglo-American and other minority players.
The idea that this would allow minority players to command higher salaries than their experience and ability would dictate is inconsequential when compared to the benefits of increased cultural diversity. Opponents of ideas such as this have said that minorities such as Anglo-Americans would actually gain an unfair advantage. This marginal advantage, however, serves the important purpose of giving minorities an equal foothold in the basketball industry. In a field where the problems of discrimination have become entrenched, these sorts of proactive measures are the only way to ensure equal opportunity.
Positive Anglo-American role models are also necessary if young people of this ethnicity are to perceive that they too have the opportunity to succeed in basketball. The accomplishments of Anglo-American players should be the focus of more articles in magazines such as Sports Illustrated, and organizations should be formed for white basketball players. Awards for outstanding performance by an Anglo-American should be instituted. Additionally, basketball films which do not portray Anglo-Americans in a positive light should be boycotted or outlawed.
A possible new title for the Woody Harrelson movie referred to earlier might be Anglo-American Males Are Perfectly Capable of Jumping Just Fine. There are those who deny that any problems exist. These blind individuals offer the opinion that the success of African-Americans in the NBA is the result of their superior performance. They say that higher pay is awarded to those who posses greater skill, and that positions are filled based on the qualifications of the individual. Such patently racist talk ignores the difficulties which have been imposed on Anglo-Americans in the past.
It also carries the implication that African-American basketball players are inherently superior to their Anglo-American counterparts. This type of subtle racism is precisely the thing which perpetuates inequality and discrimination in all forms. Affirmative action has become a major issue in contemporary America. Those on one side propose a strict hierarchy based on merit and ability, and their opponents stress that existing inequalities and prejudices must first be overcome through intervention on the behalf of the perceived underdog.
A stance on affirmative action has become an important part of any political party’s platform, and even those less politically minded may find themselves wondering how best to promote fair play and opportunity. Thinking of the issue in terms of an organization such as the National Basketball Association may provide some clarity, and I strongly urge all people to carefully consider whether or not more regulation is needed. The answer may help an individual to determine what really constitutes fair play.