Members of the Black Sports Professionals of North Texas - Photo courtesy of BDPNT

(The Dallas Examiner) – Not every athlete can be like Mike.

Michael Jordan, Lebron James and Stephen Curry are few of the athletes idolized by millions of youth hoping to one day play in their shoes or in professional sports such as the NBA, NFL, MLB or NHL making millions of dollars, earning the adoration by fans and having endorsement deals.

In fact, only 2% out of 460,000 student athletes go on to play professional sports, meaning the majority of student athletes have to find another way to make a living, according to the NCAA.

But for those who still love the game and want to be involved in it for a lifetime, there are other ways to get involved as a career.

Jobs such as sports executives, sports communication directors for colleges and the professional leagues, sports agents and marketing are some industries for people who have a passion for the game.

The Black Sports Professionals of North Texas, founded in 2018 and launched in January 2020, is trying to get the word out to students about the diverse job market in sports.

“There is a group of Black sports professionals every year working in sports and there is also a national group,” said, Larry Lundy, president of the organization. “There’s Black journalists, or Black accountants or Black attorneys, but there’s nothing for those of us in the sports industry as a network. And I think secondly, so many of our kids believe they’re going to come back and play professional sports. But less than 1% actually do, so we wanted to create an organization that shows them there are other opportunities out there to get involved in sports.”

The group is made up of four pillars it stands by:

• Career awareness

• Professional development

• Career advancement

• Community service and scholarship

People who make up the group work in sports in areas such as finance, marketing, or work with a team or those who aspire to work in sports as well.

“We have a number of college students, and we have a separate membership for college students so everyone’s welcome.” Lundy said. “Our mission is to connect, power and advance sports professionals to represent sports history. That’s what we focus on every day.”

The group meets monthly and has scholarship opportunities for aspiring students pursuing a degree in sports. They all partner with professional teams in North Texas, such as the Dallas Cowboys, Dallas Mavericks, Dallas Stars and Texas Rangers.

The latest partnership for the organization is the PGA of America based in Frisco, which looks to advance business and career connection opportunities in the golf industry, as well as supporting the chapter’s programs and events geared toward Black sports professionals in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

“The PGA of America is committed to welcoming everyone to the game of golf and the incredible opportunities to work in a $102 billion industry that drives nearly two million jobs,” said PGA of America Chief People Officer Sandy Cross. “We see this as a special opportunity to work together with Black Sports Professionals of North Texas to further develop promising pathways for individuals from all backgrounds, identities and abilities in the game and business of golf.”

Lundy said it is important that students know there are other opportunities to be involved in sports other than being a professional athlete.

“Everybody thinks they can work, that they can be an athlete, like most seventh graders or eighth graders,” he said. But it goes further than that. There’s so many opportunities in the sports world so everybody can’t work for Jerry Jones and the Dallas Cowboys and Mark Cuban. But there’s so many different organizations, agencies, leagues, teams for college athletics, pro sports, and we have most cities with two or three sports teams across the U.S. and everything else, and we were told by sports journalists, number one is an important city. So there are other opportunities for us to allow those who want to be in sports media and PR, marketing, finance, management, licensing, whatever their interests are, and try to help them find and of course, there’s also just getting back into the service. A lot of folks that are working with nonprofits work with sports teams as well.”

Lundy said the goal of the group is to continue to focus on the career workers and the need to reach at least 2,000 students.

“To be in a market where we have one of the few teams with a Black CEO, a Black GM and a Black coach, I don’t think that’s ever happened in other sports positions, but we’ve seen teams like the Dallas Stars with their recruiting and developing talent as well,” Lundy said. “As long as they have an opportunity where everybody can have a shot. Finally, we’re looking at hosting a sports Summit. So those who want to learn from the best understand sports, more in professional sports, college courses, college conferences, casual playoffs, and even high school eSports. They’re up there with agencies and TV and media. So sports is a big industry.”

Scottie Rodgers, marketing and communications committee chair for the organization, said it is part of a national organization in which the local North Texas chapter launched in 2020.

“This is a place where those that want to be around the business of sports, whether you come as a former athlete or as a retired athlete, or just as someone who loves sports, can get involved,” Rodgers said. “I was not an athlete at all, in college or anything like that, but I got involved working in college athletics in undergraduate school at the University Alabama, and that was the start of my career. My career has taken me into a lot of different places around the country and I think an organization like this shows that there’s an entire other side to sports besides what you see. There’s so much that you can do to be connected and be a part of the industry.”

Rodgers works with the Cotton Bowl Classic as its director of communications.

That’s what we want to be able to show to everyone that there are so many different avenues to be connected in sports,” Rodgers said. I think people, especially our younger folks, because we do want to help usher in the next generation of professionals in the sports business. That’s obviously a key area that we want too, but we also want to make sure that there’s a place for the professionals that are in the business now that they can. Everybody’s still trying to learn and nurture themselves and nurture their career and grow as a professional and as a person. So I think it’s important that we’re able to do that through our program and through our network, through the connections that we help create, through what we do as a chapter.”

Every month, the group hosts webinars, panel discussions, networking opportunities and informs students who want to pursue a career in the sports industry about possible scholarships. 

“In the past two years through our scholarship program, we’ve been able to award $24,500 to 16 college students,” Rodgers said.

Diane Xavier received her bachelor’s degree in Journalism from Texas A&M University in 2003. She has been a journalist for over 20 years covering everything from news, sports, politics and health....

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