The Financial Divide In Athletics

in sports. the Owners represent the top 1% while the athletes are the silent minority.

Wikimedia Commons

in sports. the Owners represent the top 1% while the athletes are the silent minority.

The divide between the haves and the haves not manifests itself throughout our culture and daily interactions. Part of the way that the aspects of this finance-driven society reflects this through the world of sports and one of the main ways in which it presents itself is through athletics. The world of sports has an odd way of being a microcosm of the world. 


Athletics at its heart is an outlet and a getaway from the “real” world. It allows its fans and viewers the opportunity to transport themselves into a different world where the only thing that matters is who wins and who loses. The stars become idols; we witness these “ordinary” people do extraordinary things. They are real-life superheroes. But there’s a dark side to sports that we choose to ignore. 


Sports and athletics reflect a racialized society and an unequal society. For example, look at the Ownership of professional teams across the three major US Sports leagues: the MLB, NBA, and NFL. In the NFL, there are zero black owners and two minority owners (Shahid Khan of the Jacksonville Jaguars and Kim Pegula of the Buffalo Bills ). In the NBA, there’s only one minority (Michael Jordan of the Charlotte Hornets) and in the MLB there is only one (Arturo Moreno of the Los Angeles Angels). That means that minority owners only make up 4% of ownership across the 3 leagues, and black ownership is at a paltry 1.21%. 


But what’s more staggering is the fact that across these three leagues the minority players make up more than 80% of the “workforce” (NBA and NFL) and more than 40% of the MLB! But it shouldn’t be a surprise as the sports industry reflects the real world. With ownership of the different sports leagues, we see the reflection of a world where the 1% rules and the majority of that 1% is generally caucasian. But ownership acts as more of a housing body/initial point throughout the league. When someone controls all the wealth it controls the rules, regulations, and because of that, they are able to control the ways of the league. The leagues are player-driven but are owner ran. 


The NFL due to its weaker players union is the best example of the big three (MLB, NBA, and NFL). The players of the NFL who have the shortest career span on average of the three at a paltry (3.3 years), but even with this, the league has yet to establish guaranteed contracts. Even though it has the highest revenue at a staggering 14 billion dollars.


You see the reality of the situation is that the world of sports is nothing more than a lithe Koi Pond reflecting the images of the broken world that we live in. A world where the rich and powerful rules over the silent majority. However, with the upcoming NFL CBA set to expire this year and NBA CBA set to expire in 2022, the silent majority might not be silent for much longer.