WNBA Report Card: Women's Basketball League Falls Short in Promoting Diversity

Article excerpt

THE WOMEN'S NATIONAL, BASKETBALL ASSOCIATION IS playing fair in the sports arena and bests other pro sports leagues in both race and gender, according to the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport (TIDES). TIDES awarded the WNBA an overall A+ in its 2008 Racial and Gender Report Card, which assesses hiring practices in professional and amateur sports in the U.S. For issues of gender, an A is earned if 40% of the employees are women; for race, an A is given if 24% of positions are held by persons of color.

But a closer look at the report reveals that white men continue to dominate the WNBA in all non-player areas. The WNBA is the youngest of the pro leagues yet it still has significant shortcomings when it comes to hiring women and ethnic minorities.

The latest WNBA report card shows that during the 2007 season, there were some percentage gains in the ethnic breakdown of head coaches, presidents/CEOs, league office staff, head trainers, and players. African Majority American head coaches increased to five in the 2008 season from just three Owners in 2007, with one African American female head coach out of a total of four female head coaches. In both 2007 and 2008, the numbers in top management remained at four women and two

African Americans as team presidents/CEOs. No person of color owned a WNBA franchise in 2007. In 2006, Sheila Johnson became the first African American woman to hold any ownership in a WNBA team. She was named managing partner of the Washington Mystics when Lincoln Holdings L.L.C. acquired the team. (Johnson owns 6% to 7% of Lincoln Holdings.)

From 2006 to 2007, minority personnel lost positions as general managers, vice presidents, assistant coaches, and senior administrators. Women lost ground as assistant coaches, league office personnel, team physicians, and head trainers. …