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Professional sports need to level the playing field by recruiting from HBCUs and advancing Black people to higher positions

The “Unlevel Playing Field” episode of last night’s “REVOLT BLACK NEWS” addressed the relationship between Black athletes in professional sports.

Inspired by Sean “Diddy” Combs’ successful “State Of Emergency: The State of Black America & Coronavirus” town hall, “REVOLT BLACK NEWS” is a platform that is designed to report news from the perspective of Black people for Black people.

Last night’s (August 6) “REVOLT BLACK NEWS” episode titled “Unlevel Playing Field” discussed inequality within the sports industry — both on and off the fields and courts. Host and executive producer Eboni K. Williams was joined by Master P, Metta World Peace, Doug Williams, Daniel Ingram, Levelle Moton, and Jason Carter.

Eboni first opened the discussion by asking Metta why he would not be taking a knee, in response to his public opinion, if he were still in the NBA. Clarifying that he is a man of his own opinions, the retired athlete explained to Eboni that taking a knee would be a form of “submitting.” When Eboni asked if he would wear a “Black Lives Matter” shirt or jerseys with social justice messaging, Metta admitted that he still did not have a definitive answer at the moment because he had already been vocal about these issues when he first started out in the ‘90s.

“I am the movement in a sense. Now, I see people starting to become aware of different things that have been happening [and] we’ve seen this since 8 years old. This ain’t nothing new,” he told Eboni. “Would I have on a ‘BLM’ shirt? I don’t know, it depends. Not that I’m not for the movement, [it’s] just that I have my own opinions that I like to be heard.”

Eboni continued by asking Metta about his opinions on taking advantage of the custom social justice jerseys, the focus of the Black Lives Matter Movement, and Johnathan Isaac standing during the national anthem. Once their conversation ended, Williams transitioned into “Headlines” that included new footage emerging of George Floyd’s final moments before fatal arrest, which showed him being held at gunpoint and being forced into the officer’s car. Other stories included 17-year-old Justin Hunter losing both of his parents to COVID-19, Trump allies assisting Kanye West to get onto the November ballot, the Detroit Pistons extending a tryout to J. Cole, and Aurora PD mistakenly detaining a Black family for a stolen motorcycle.

“If that doesn’t make sense to you, it definitely doesn’t make sense to me either. How in the world does a motorcycle get confused with an SUV?” Eboni questioned.

HBCUs and the recruiting movement were next for the topic of discussion between Eboni and former NFL player — and first Black quarterback to win a Super Bowl — Doug Williams. A Grambling State University graduate himself, Doug spoke of his personal experience during his transition from HBCU to professional sports, and the likelihood of more professional players doing the same. “I really gotta see it,” Doug said about the possible increase of HBCU students being drafted into the big leagues. Though he was emphasizing the importance of communicating positivity, Doug expressed his uncertainty about the shift in statistics in the near future. “The chances of the historically Black colleges getting back to what they used to be and being able to get you four or five top athletes across the country that could’ve gone anywhere in the country, I don’t know whether that’s gonna happen,” he added.

Eboni shifted the conversation to Doug’s executive role in the front office of sports, where not too many Black men nor women are represented. “You really sit in rare air,” she said about his position in the National Football League as SVP of Player Development. When it came to discussing the lack of Black people in corporate positions in a league with over 70 percent of Black players, Doug attributed the change being made slowly but surely to the protests and rallies that have been happening within the past few months. “That’s letting you know that we need a more diverse America,” he said before challenging the 32 NFL team owners to step up and do their part to diversify these positions, and create opportunities for Black people.

Daniel Ingram joined Eboni next to further discuss the HBCU to professional sports pipeline. Though he originally committed to University of Cincinnati, Ingram changed his mind in July to announce his new commitment to the University of Arkansas - Pine Bluff. “Choosing Arkansas was based on a good decision,” Ingram told Eboni, later deeming it “probably the best decision [he’s] made.”

“No NFL managers [are] looking at HBCUs. Look at players, see how good they can be for their program and for their team, and be a successful player coming out of an HBCU,” Ingram urged recruiters. North Carolina Central’s head basketball coach Levelle Moton appeared next. “I think it’s a sign of the times,” Moton said regarding an HBCU’s position in recruiting, and being about to scout high-profile talent who consider NCCU as a potential option for basketball and higher education. “I think it’s a changing of the guard not only at HBCUs, but just in America right now.”

“I think the problem with America,” the HBCU graduate continued “is society has convinced young Black kids that they need to go to PWIs (predominately white institutions) to receive greatness.” Moton proceeded to name leaders and attendees of HBCUs from Sean “Diddy” Combs to Martin Luther King, Jr. to prove this.

For last night’s “Black Excellence In Entertainment” segment, Eboni was joined by entertainment personality and news reporter Jason Carter. The topics discussed included Regina King’s directorial debut at Venice Film Festival, Danielle Brooks’ new role as Mahalia Jackson in a Lifetime biopic, and “Pose” star Angelica Ross inking an overall production deal with Pigeon Production Company. “Category is perfection, Eboni! This is right in alignment with who she is and who her brand is. She’s all about wellbeing, positivity and forward movement,” Carter excitedly told Eboni about Angelica.

Hip hop legend Master P was the final guest for last night’s episode, as he and Eboni touched on his founding of his global mixed gender basketball league, the representation of Black people on and off his teams, and what Black ownership in the NBA looks like to him. He told Eboni that even though Black athletes are making a good amount of money, the checks will eventually run out and the narrative needs to be shifted to our value, worth, and strategizes for ownership of NBA teams. “We have to educate us as a culture. I think that we’re not empowering each other. We have to celebrate each other for us to group up and do business together,” Master P said in comparison to other cultures who are “teaming up” while we’re “trying to outdo each other.”

We have millionaires, but now we have to create more billionaires. So, you’re talking about a different business, a different tax bracket, but that comes with education. We’ve got to stop just running up and down the court. We’ve got to stop just being musicians and entertainers, and start understanding economics and empowerment,” he encouraged.

“Yes, sports inspire and certainly the world has not stopped needing athletics,” our host said as she closed the episode. “But, the game needs to respect the marginalized communities that many of these athletes come from.” Eboni encouraged people to move forward in unison to develop the changes we want to see in professional sports.

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