Black sports figures look for transparency


Stephani Bradley

Though it is gradual, positive changes are being made for the Black community in the sports industry.

According to Entertainment and Sports Programming Network reporter Marcel Louis-Jacques, former Miami Dolphins coach Brian Flores sued the National Football League for racial discrimination against the Denver Broncos, the New York Giants and his former team the Miami Dolphins on Tuesday, Feb. 1. After speculation about the Rooney Rule, which requires league teams to interview ethnic-minority candidates for head coaching and senior football operation jobs, the policy is being challenged by Flores in the hopes of a new outlook on hiring minority coaches.

The Dolphins fired Flores on Jan. 10, despite Miami winning seven straight games after losing the previous seven. Flores then filed the lawsuit after revealing Dolphins owner Stephen Ross incentivized a $100,000 reward for Flores to lose games during the 2021-2022 regular season, claiming the cause of the firing was not adequately cooperating at an organizational level to maintain success.

During interviews with the Giants and the Broncos, Flores believed both interviews were not seen as professional, claiming both teams created sham interviews to adhere to the Rooney Rule.

“We need change, that was the number one reason,” Flores said during ESPN’s “Get Up” on Feb. 2. “We need to change the hearts and minds of those making decisions.”

Black sports journalists, coaches and current and former athletes have changed the perspective on Black men and women in sports in a modern-day setting. The steady question remains as to whether those perspectives of change are being seen, or just thrown by the wayside.

“White people come to work with a job to do, Black people have a responsibility,” Smith said on Wednesday, Feb. 2 during ESPN’s “First Take.” “When you’re Black, they’re looking for a reason not to hire you.”

Discrimination in sports can be as simple as not being picked for a position in the sports world, like a coach for a team, because of skin color. Some believe the choice in who gets picked for positions should be based only on the quality of their work.

“I specifically don’t think color has anything to do with the way one conducts a job,” Hayes Fawcett, junior communications major said. “But all are very good at what they do.”

Fans of his work believe Smith to be a pioneer for ESPN and Black journalism as a whole due to his impressive insight into the world of sports. Smith is one of the few minorities in a well-funded company like ESPN making successful moves and solely being judged for the content he produces.

“In my opinion, [Smith and others] changed the game for Blacks because we were so used to seeing whites in those positions,” Daviion Telsee, junior communication major, said. “I believe they gave Blacks hope to be in that position and we were able to look up to them and say ‘one day, I want to do something like that.’”

The ongoing battle for diversity and transparency has made its way through every crack and crevice of the American Dream, even through sports. The Rooney Rule’s attempted call-to-action to a problem that’s seen very little change over the years has only hindered more than helped, a goal that Flores and company are achieving to accomplish.