Today we honor a man who made this world a better place, who shifted his personal agenda aside and took steps to not only integrate a game, a business, but to establish a history and legacy of distinguished elegance and leave an impact, that man is Jackie Robinson.
I've had the opportunity to read, hear and listen to the many anecdotes of why Jackie was so important to the way baseball did business. Today, African-American athletes enjoy spoils far beyond what Robinson might have imagined this day back in 1947. However, Robinson still might chide Major League Baseball for only having two African-American managers, just as he would have to the NFL a few years ago. Robinson firmly believed in expanding opportunities in management and the front offices of the Billion dollar sport & entertainment industries.
Baseball did an excellent job honoring the historich anniversary and I believe we'll hopefully begin to see the numbers of African-Americans playing today rise. (Currently at 8.4%)*
With two drafts quickly approaching that will change the fortunes and tax brackets of many of it's minority participants, I hope for today at least, they realize the gravity of their next few years.
So as I reflect on the changes the NFL needed to make to align it's employees off-field behavior, analyze post-Don Imus situation and think back to the NBA's need for a dress code and tighten it's in game discipline, I wonder where things shifted to drastically. While rights, salaries and opportunities have increased, so has disenfranchisement, moral responsibility and courage. However, it's not happening on a large scale, for the most part, the majority of our athletes don't receive enough credit for the positive contributions they make. I've personally experienced countless examples of athletes either diffusing a negative situation or coming to the aid of someone whom has experienced one. And for that, I'm sure Jackie would be proud.
*Source: ESPN News