Making a Difference: Gender and Race Report Cards Hold Sports Organizations Accountable for Hiring Practices


As coaches and fans keep tabs on their team’s wins and losses, longtime UCF teacher Richard Lapchick is keeping an eye on another stat, one that can’t be found in a box score.

Known as the social conscience of sports, Lapchick has spent the past three decades monitoring gender and racial hiring trends in sports. As director of the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sports, Lapchick publishes racial and gender bulletins annually for professional, collegiate and amateur sports. Widely distributed newsletters help hold leagues accountable for hiring diverse and inclusive staff.

“The impact of racial reckoning on American society has been enormous. This included the world of professional and college sports,” says Lapchick, who resigned last fall after 20 years as head of the graduate management program. of UCF Sports Affairs DeVos to share his messages of social justice and anti-racism with new audiences.” All of this is reflected in the comprehensive 2021 Race and Gender Report Card.”

The comprehensive 2021 Race and Gender Report Card includes ratings and ratings from Major League Baseball (MLB), Major League Soccer (MLS), National Basketball Association (NBA), National Football League (NFL ), the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA), and college sports. Only the WNBA, with its A+ rating, received an A or better in the overall rating. The NBA followed with a B+, while MLS and NFL got Bs and MLB got a C+. College sports again received the lowest grade with a C.

“Opportunities for people of color and women to be hired in college sports are still not where they need to be for real diversity, equity and inclusion on too many campuses,” Lapchick noted in a January post. 2022 for ESPN.

According to the report, gender-based hiring practices generally lagged racial hiring and saw increases only in the NFL and MLS. Only the WNBA and the NBA received grades above C+, receiving an A+ and a B, respectively. The NFL received a C+ while college sports, MLB and MLS received a C.

Reports from each of the major professional sports and college sports are widely referenced by national sports media. The 2021-2022 reports received 1,001 mentions, earning more than $40 million in media coverage, from outlets ranging from ESPN, NBC Sports and USA Today to the Boston Globe, Time Magazine and The Athletic.

The rating scale

The research is led by Lapchick and a team of graduate students from the DeVos Sport Business Management Graduate Program, who draw on research from the National Collegiate Athletic Association and aggregate data provided by the various professional sports leagues to supplement racial report cards. and gender.

Report cards track the racial and gender composition of players, coaches, managers, front office, team staff, league office, match officials and members of the media. Ratings are calculated against general societal patterns based on federal affirmative action policies that state that the workplace should reflect the percentage of people in the racial group in the population.

Lapchick says that while there has been improvement over the years, data from the Race and Gender Report Card shows that professional sports front office hiring practices still don’t reflect the number of players in the game. color competing in the game.

“Diversity and inclusion are paramount. This is true for both business operations and sports operations in the front office/athletic department,” says Lapchick. “Typically, aside from head coaches, general managers, team presidents, and college athletic directors, key decision makers in this space are less visible to the public eye, but they help influence trends within Of the industry.”

The 2021 racial and gender report card grading scale is based on percentages of racial groups found in 2010 census data. For example, an A would be scored if 28.6% of employees were people of color while that 17% earn a B. The scale will move to the 2020 census from the 2022 ballots.

In 2021, bonus points were added for hiring milestones and crucial social justice initiatives, such as the NBA’s Building Bridges Through Basketball program and the NFL’s Experienceship program. They also started calculating team ownership in the final grades.

Final bulletins are distributed to the media, usually during the current league or sport season, and Lapchick shares them on where he serves as a commentator and columnist.

A powerful voice

An academic and author, Lapchick is a well-known human rights activist, a pioneer of racial equality and a sought-after expert on sports issues. In addition to TIDES, he is president of the Institute of Sport and Social Justice located at UCF. He was named Muhammad Ali Humanitarian of the Year in 2021 by the Muhammad Ali Center. In 2014, the National Basketball Retired Players Association presented Lapchick, Bill Russell and Pat Summit with their Life Achievement Award. In 2013, the National Association of Black Journalists awarded Lapchick the Pioneer Award.

In other words, when Lapchick speaks, the sports world listens.

“The report shines a very clear light on the representation gaps across sports and the work that needs to be done,” said Oris Stuart, NBA chief human resources and inclusion officer, in a UCF Today article in 2020. .

Tracking hiring statistics by gender and race for the past 30 years, the report cards serve as a benchmark for measuring diversity in the industry, celebrating gains and milestones while highlighting organizations that are lagging behind. or make empty promises.

“When I first started getting involved in diversity and inclusion 52 years ago, diversity, we said, was a moral imperative, and that kind of problem disappeared when diversity became a business imperative. “, says Lapchick. “I think what’s happened recently is that we’re talking about diversity and inclusion again as a moral imperative as well as a business imperative.”

Full reports for each league and sport can be found at


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