One wonders sometimes if liberals actually listen to what they themselves are saying. A recent argument for affirmative action in college athletics illustrates the point.
University of Central Florida professor Richard Lapchick runs an outfit called The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport, or TIDES. Each year, TIDES releases a “report card” that tracks the diversity, equity, and inclusion for minorities and women within college athletics.
In an ESPN.com essay earlier this month, Lapchick refused to hide his disappointment.
“It is embarrassing that of all the report cards we do, college sports consistently has some of the worst results. This year was no exception,” he wrote.
The 2021 TIDES report card gave college athletics a C-plus for “racial hiring practices,” a C for “gender hiring practices,” which equated to an overall C. Based on TIDES point scale, college sports dropped 5 percent compared to 2020.
The problem, according to Lapchick, could be summed up in two words: Too white.
Whites hold more than 80 percent of the jobs for athletics directors and assistant athletics directors, and minorities make up just 12.7 percent of the head coaching jobs.
There are two problems with Lapchick’s argument.
The first is that he excluded Historically Black Colleges and Universities, which he admits in his piece “would make the numbers look better.”
The second problem is that he doesn’t look at the athletes. In a 2020 story about this topic, a University of Oklahoma professor noted that across the NCAA’s Divisions I, II, and III, about 72 percent of female college athletes are white, as are 64 percent of male athletes.
Lapchick’s own research shows that about two-thirds of athletic directors are white, while the percentage drops into the 50s for assistant athletic directors.
Lapchick, naturally, called for change and recommended that athletes themselves make a stink to pressure college to hire minorities.
He even quoted the Rev. Jesse Jackson, who called a C an “unacceptable grade.”
“We expect the best of our athletes on the field, and we should likewise expect the BEST of our leadership off the field,” said Jackson. “The college sports industry continues to generate billions of dollars on the backs of a hugely minority talent base. And yet, they still struggle with implementing a system and infrastructure that produces authentic diversity and inclusion in their hiring practices, positions of leadership, management and coaching.”
Yet when the conservative website Campus Reform asked Lapchick if the same standard should be extended to the athletes, he declined.
“Lapchick stopped short of endorsing any application of diversity hiring initiatives to the athlete recruitment process,” Campus Reform noted.
“We do not evaluate the recruiting process,” he said. “We do evaluate the race and gender of student-athletes.”
Campus Reform added, “Lapchick added that he does not ‘think it is a good idea to base the grade on a comparison of coaches and the athletes that play the sport.’”
Perhaps it is because the uncomfortable truth about athletic recruiting, especially for football and men’s basketball, is that colleges have given black Americans a broad path to a college education and a better life than they might otherwise have had, and that might dry up if the affirmative-action policies Lapchick advocates were applied to the athletes themselves.