The Reverend Jesse Jackson’s Rainbow Push Economic Summit hosted a session titled “Business of Sports,” which explored the struggle for racial parity in sports ownership.
The panel was moderated by Chris Broussard, sports analyst at ESPN and featured NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell; NBA legend Isaiah Thomas; attorney and co-chair Rainbow PUSH Coalition-Sports, Barbara Arnwine; Rushia Brown, WNBA Legend and Founder/Chief Executive Officer, Women’s Professional Basketball Alumnae Association; Brandon Williams, NFL tight end, Carolina Panthers; Everett L. Glenn, President and Chief Executive Officer, Entertainment and Sports Plus; and Financial Advisor Shurnette Henry.
Jackson shed light on the influence that the Civil Rights movement has had on the realm of sports. “If the walls had not been snatched down by the civil rights leaders, we could not have a Super Bowl,” he said. “We changed the way the NFL operated, all free agents around the world sat on the shoulders of the civil rights struggle.”
The panel also addressed today’s breakthroughs in sports, including Missouri All-American defensive end Michael Sam’s coming out. “Good for him,” said Commissioner Goodell. “He’s proud of who he is and had the courage to say it. Now he wants to play football. We have a policy prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation. We will have further training and make sure that everyone understands our commitment. We truly believe in diversity and this is an opportunity to demonstrate it.”
The panelists engaged in a lively conversation, discussing the importance of athletes responsibly managing money and exploring ownership opportunities to diversify the leadership of professional sports corporations.