Look at what it takes to get a seat at the table.
Generally, you need to be born on third base, which is obviously far less likely to happen to families of color, but at least the Minnesota Timberwolves have an owner with 31 career triples. Alex Rodriguez, along with Tech Entrepreneur Marc Lore, have purchased the T-Wolves from Glen Taylor for $1.5 billion. The transaction will make Rodriguez the only majority owner in the NBA who is Latino.
To get here, Rodriguez wasn’t someone who was born of a wealthy family that was able to have their hands in the business world — those opportunities aren’t readily available to people of color in this country. Unlike your typical older white guy owner in sports, Rodriguez actually came from a family where his mother had to work multiple jobs so they could survive, and it just so happens that he became the richest baseball player of all-time by nearly $150 million currently. The gap was much wider immediately after he retired.
He’s controversial, no doubt. His baseball excellence came into question amid all the steroids he admitted to using, but even so, he banked over $440 million from his career MLB salaries and bonuses alone, and that’s not including sponsorships and investments. But, again, look at what it takes to get in the room — numbers like that.
Across the four major sports leagues in America, there were two Latino majority owners prior to Rodriguez. Two.
- Alex Meruelo, Cuban-American, Phoenix Coyotes [NHL]
- Arturo Moreno, Mexican-American, Los Angeles Angels [MLB]
Moreno purchased the Angels in 2003 from the Walt Disney Company. (He also plays the game on a specific side of the fence, though.) And Meruelo bought the Coyotes in 2019, making him the first Latino owner in NHL history. He had a bid in 2011 to purchase the Atlanta Hawks and would then become the first Latino majority owner in NBA history, but the deal fell through.
Of the hundreds of owners across the major sports, Rodriguez is joining an exclusive club, and the problem is that the club is still exclusive to those of a certain tax bracket, which he isn’t quite even in — despite being the highest paid player of America’s longest running pro sports league ever — without the help of Lore. Billionaires are at a different level of wealth altogether, and the people there are generally who always have been. As is the case with ownership in companies across America, all of this is systemic, from the top on down. It’s how we arrive at studies showing that, despite making up 60 percent of the American population, white people own 86 percent of the wealth. The same USA Facts study reports that, “The average net worth per capita among white Americans is roughly $437,000 per person, whereas this value is $105,000 among Black people and $53,000 among Hispanic people.”
And, yes, that trickles on into sports, which is how we arrive at the ownership conversation. At least in the case of Rodriguez, he got there himself, even if he had to vastly overachieve to do it. (Side note: Way to stunt on your ex after a bad breakup.)
And now we come to the obligatory “we still have a long way to go” kicker. 😕