Black sports agents strike out with Black athletes

Filed under OPINION

00_JamesClingmanWhile Black athletes dominate football and basketball, and have a major presence in baseball, relatively few of them hire Black attorneys, accountants, and agents, thereby, putting as much as 5 percent of their contract amount into someone else’s economy.

For years now, we have seen this intriguing phenomenon. In 1995, Black Enterprise magazine ran an article titled “MVPs,” that shed light on this subject.

R. David Ware, noted for negotiating the largest non-quarterback (Barry Sanders) contract in the NFL, voiced his frustration about the situation this way: “It is so disheartening that so few African-Americans are given the opportunity to represent African-American players. they wear Kente cloth and talk about pride in their heritage, but when it comes to business affairs, they don’t use African-American lawyers, agents, or accountants.”

Should know better
You would think African-American college graduates would know better. But, in my opinion, they lack a consciousness that would have them act otherwise, and many have virtually no knowledge, or interest for that matter, in Black business history and the role they play in this nation’s economic system.

They are noted more for their shoe, soft drink, and fast food commercials, rather than their commitments to conscious capitalism. They have become fashion icons instead of paragons of Black empowerment.

My suggestion to one of my students who played basketball at the University of Cincinnati was to develop a relationship with a fellow student who was majoring in finance, law, or business, and hire that person as an agent when he turned professional.

There are too many Black athletes who refuse to hire other African-Americans.

Considering how much money these guys earn, if they used Black professionals, it would have a huge effect on the African-American economy.

Question of opportunity
I know there are competent White agents out there, but as Ware said in the article, “It’s no longer a question of ability, but one of opportunity.”

Some White agents were crying foul when more African-Americans got into the game. In a television special, a White agent accused Black agents of “playing the race card” to get Black athletes to sign with them. He suggested Black athletes should select their agents and others who work for them solely on the basis of talent.

Ironically, he was asking for a “level playing field.”

If Asian athletes comprised 70 percent of NBA players, we would see nearly 70 percent Asian agents. A similar scenario would prevail if there were a majority of Jewish or Hispanic players. Why are we accused of playing the race card when we suggest African-American athletes hire Black agents?

I wonder how many White athletes are represented by Black agents. If we play it right, one day not only will we win the game, we win the championship.

Jim Clingman, founder of the Greater Cincinnati African American Chamber of Commerce, is an adjunct professor at the University of Cincinnati and can be reached through his Web site, blackonomics.com.

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