In Black and White

Race and Sports in America

240 pages

November, 1998

ISBN: 9780814780374

$27

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Kenneth L. Shropshire, the author of several books, is Professor at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. He has written for USA Today, The Los Angeles Times, The New York Daily News, Emerge Magazine, and The Philadelphia Inquirer.

All books by Kenneth L. Shropshire

From the days of the Negro Leagues in baseball up to the present when collegiate basketball factories entice and then fail to educate young black men, sports in America have long served as a barometer of the country's racial climate. Just as blacks are generally absent from the upper echelons of corporate America, they are similarly underrepresented from the front offices of the sports industry as well. In this compact volume, Kenneth L. Shropshire confronts prominent racial myths head-on, offering both a descriptive history of--and prescriptive solutions for--the most pressing problems currently plaguing sports.

At present, whites have a 95% ownership stake in professional basketball, baseball, and football teams. And yet, when confronted with programs intended to diversify their front offices, many teams resort to the familiar refrain of merit-based excuses: there simply aren't enough qualified black candidates or they don't know how to network. While more subtle, this approach has the same effect as the racist comments of an Al Campanis or a Marge Schott: it stigmatizes and excludes African-Americans. In the insular world of sports, characterized by a feeder system through which former players often move up to become coaches, managers, executives, and owners, blacks are eminently qualified. For example, after decades of active involvement with their sport, they often bring to the table experiences more relevant to the black players which make up the majority of professional athletes. Given the centrality of sport in American life, it is imperative that the industry be a leader, not a laggard, in the arena of racial equality.

Informed by Frederick Douglass's belief that power concedes nothing without a demand, In Black and White casts its net widely, dissecting claims of colorblindness and reverse racism as self-serving, rhetorical camouflage and scrutinizing professional and collegiate sports, sports agents, and owners alike. No mere critique, however, the volume looks optimistically forward, outlining strategies of interest to all those who have a stake, professional or otherwise, in sports and racial equality.

Reviews

  • "A prominent sports-law specialist sends down an indictment of racism in sports that is impossible to ignore. Anyone desiring to be informed about race issues and sports should read it."

    Kirkus Review

  • "A new standard of excellence in writing about sports in America begins with this book. Shropshire has approached his task with unique skill, passion, seriousness, and intelligence."

    —Houston A. Baker, Jr., University of Pennsylvania

  • "In Black and White hits harder than Lawrence Taylor. A how-to manual not only for sports but society as well. It should be required reading for every incoming freshman."

    —James Lofton, former NFL All Pro, NBC Broadcaster

  • "This is not merely a screed on sports' lagging track record in combating racism. Shropshire provides workable solutions for bringing more minorities into the coaching and business ends of athletics."

    USA Today Baseball Weekly