By Shaun Harper

Cover of Advancing and Sustaining Racial Justice in Pro Sports Report

This report is intended for every professional sports league and all teams across America. It introduces some reflective questions, a racial justice continuity framework, ten principles, and numerous concrete actions that will deepen and sustain the momentum of Summer 2020. Guidance is offered to leagues and teams that are serious about going beyond social justice slogans and charitable donations.

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Op-Eds, Essays, and TV Interviews

In addition to authoring the report, USC Provost Professor Shaun Harper, our center’s founder and executive director, was interviewed on live television and has published several pieces specifically about Black women in Super Bowl LVI, Coach Brian Flores’ racial discrimination lawsuit against the NFL, and the underrepresentation of Black head coaches in intercollegiate athletics.

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Brian Flores’ Lawsuit Shows How Empty the NFL’s Anti-Racism Messaging Is

Harper critiques the NFL’s performative expressions of care about racial justice. He argues the League needs new recruitment, hiring, and accountability methods. Because nearly 70% of players are Black, Harper insists they have enough collective power to demand the hiring of more Black coaches.

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Dr. Shaun Harper on Systemic Racism in the NFL

Harper joined FOX 11 News in Los Angeles to discuss the shortage of Black head coaches and systemic racism. He acknowledged the NFL’s efforts to highlight racism in our society, but challenged league execs to disrupt racism inside the NFL and across its 32 teams.

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Brian Flores, Other Insiders Speak on Addressing Racism in the NFL

Harper interviewed Coach Brian Flores and three Black NFL players about solutions to the underrepresentation of Black head coaches problem. Together, they identified nine things the League must do if it is serious about increasing the number of Black head coaches and executives.

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We Ain’t Playing. When Black Athletes Forced the NFL to Hire More Black Coaches.

While fictitious, this story is an inspirational example of the immediate and transformative change that could occur if Black athletes and their supporters united to demand the hiring of significantly more Black head coaches across the 32 teams in the National Football League (NFL).

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Super Bowl Fumbles on Black Women

Jhené Aiko and Mickey Guyton sang “America the Beautiful” and the “Star-Spangled Banner,” respectively. Aiko was introduced, but the camera zoomed in on Guyton, with Aiko’s name in the lower-third. This fumble, plus Mary J. Blige being the only woman in the halftime show, are discussed.

Not Only in the NFL. Dearth of Black College Coaches is Unacceptable.

The underrepresentation of Black head coaches in college sports is unacceptable, Harper writes. He notes that 88% of athletics directors at NCAA member institutions are white. Only 7% of head football coaches, 14% of head men’s basketball coaches, and 15% of head women’s basketball coaches are Black.


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