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African American sports agents strike out with African American athletes

James Clingman | 7/9/2013, 3:28 a.m.
James Clingman

I read a magazine article about one of our mega-millionaire ball players buying 22 pairs of shoes from a famous store that many Black athletes patronize. Of course, the store is not Black-owned, but what else is new? Anyway, the shoes cost $16,000. Throw in about 10 suits for a couple of grand each, and multiply that by 30 other Black professional athletes who frequent the store, and you’re talking about a serious positive cash flow. You know how we like to look good. Unfortunately, other groups know it much better than we do – and they sure do take advantage of it. They make it; we buy it – no matter how it looks.

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 will win the championship.

Jim Clingman is the founder of the Greater Cincinnati African American Chamber of Commerce, is the nation’s most prolific writer on economic empowerment for Black people. He is an adjunct professor at the University of Cincinnati and can be reached through his website, http://blackonomics.com.