American sports

Race divide: The lack of diversity in American sport explained in three charts

US sports teams are owned primarily by white men with swatches of black men filling up their rosters.

US President Donald Trump’s feud with American sportsmen reignited on Sunday with NFL player Colin Kaepernick denying a report that he would stand again for the national anthem if given a chance to play again. This comes 14 months after Kaepernick, a former San Francisco 49ers quarterback, began kneeling during the national anthem in protest against injustice faced by black people in the United States.

Through the entire controversy, which reached its peak last month when several sportspersons across leagues in the US began kneeling down during the national anthem, a clear fault line emerged over the racial imbalance in ownership of major American sports teams.

Kaepernick is currently a free agent after his contract expired in July. No team has since signed him, an aberration considering he’s one of sport’s best quarterbacks. His protest is seen as an act of defiance that doesn’t sit well with team owners, a small proportion of whom publicly supported Donald Trump’s campaign.

Two weeks ago, the US president’s attack culminated in a show of solidarity by players across the various leagues kneeling in protest. Unconsciously, he sparked off a debate about how a significant number of team owners in these leagues are skewed towards white men.

It is fairly common knowledge that leagues such as the NBA and the NFL are largely dominated by black players, but comparing those numbers off the field, the demographic divide becomes more apparent.

The NBA, widely considered the most progressive of all the leagues and often supports players political positions is predominantly black – nearly three-fourths of its players are black. However, 91% of its team owners are white.

The NFL’s statistics were even more jarring. It had only one non-white owner – Shahid Khan, the owner of the Jacksonville Jaguars. That’s particularly bad for league that has nearly 70% black players.

But the divide isn’t just geared towards black players and white owners. In Major League Baseball, about a third of all players were of latino descent. Only a fraction of that number were represented in ownership and management, which were both dominated by white men.

Coaches too were also mainly white men. Only the NBA had a relatively diverse mix of players, coaches and support staff according to an annual study conducted by the The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport.

Among financially less lucrative leagues and sports, the gaps are abhorrent. This gulf could largely be attributed to the lack of participation of non-white audiences in the sport. For example, NASCAR, the US’s most watched motorsport has a television viewership that draws 94% of its audience from white viewers. There is also a lack of non-white race drivers on its roster.

The National Hockey League, another sport dominated by white men in nearly every part of the game. All 30 teams have white owners and managers. As of February 2015, only 5% of NHL players were black.

We welcome your comments at
Sponsored Content BY 

Watch Ruchir's journey: A story that captures the impact of accessible technology

Accessible technology has the potential to change lives.

“Technology can be a great leveller”, affirms Ruchir Falodia, Social Media Manager, TATA CLiQ. Out of the many qualities that define Ruchir as a person, one that stands out is that he is an autodidact – a self-taught coder and lover of technology.

Ruchir’s story is one that humanises technology - it has always played the role of a supportive friend who would look beyond his visual impairment. A top ranker through school and college, Ruchir would scan course books and convert them to a format which could be read out to him (in the absence of e-books for school). He also developed a lot of his work ethos on the philosophy of Open Source software, having contributed to various open source projects. The access provided by Open Source, where users could take a source code, modify it and distribute their own versions of the program, attracted him because of the even footing it gave everyone.

That is why I like being in programming. Nobody cares if you are in a wheelchair. Whatever be your physical disability, you are equal with every other developer. If your code works, good. If it doesn’t, you’ll be told so.

— Ruchir.

Motivated by the objectivity that technology provided, Ruchir made it his career. Despite having earned degree in computer engineering and an MBA, friends and family feared his visual impairment would prove difficult to overcome in a work setting. But Ruchir, who doesn’t like quotas or the ‘special’ tag he is often labelled with, used technology to prove that differently abled persons can work on an equal footing.

As he delved deeper into the tech space, Ruchir realised that he sought to explore the human side of technology. A fan of Agatha Christie and other crime novels, he wanted to express himself through storytelling and steered his career towards branding and marketing – which he sees as another way to tell stories.

Ruchir, then, migrated to Mumbai for the next phase in his career. It was in the Maximum City that his belief in technology being the great leveller was reinforced. “The city’s infrastructure is a challenging one, Uber helped me navigate the city” says Ruchir. By using the VoiceOver features, Ruchir could call an Uber wherever he was and move around easily. He reached out to Uber to see if together they could spread the message of accessible technology. This partnership resulted in a video that captures the essence of Ruchir’s story: The World in Voices.


It was important for Ruchir to get rid of the sympathetic lens through which others saw him. His story serves as a message of reassurance to other differently abled persons and abolishes some of the fears, doubts and prejudices present in families, friends, employers or colleagues.

To know more about Ruchir’s journey, see here.

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Uber and not by the Scroll editorial team.