UC Law Journal


What will happen in this country when questions of merit no longer serve as barriers to the advancement of minorities, particularly African Americans, to top-level positions in American corporations and society? What will happen when merit questions are eliminated but minorities are still underrepresented in these powerful positions? Arguably, the critical issue for society then will be to determine why there remains an absence of minorities at the top. Further, if a society without merit differentiation develops and discrimination continues, should America's much-beleaguered affirmative action programs be asserted in a newly aggressive manner?

This Essay examines these issues by looking at the professional team sports industry in America. The focus here is not on the players on the field but on sports franchise front offices. Regarding these front office positions, African Americans have long had the merit that is questioned in other industries. Yet African Americans are still absent in representative numbers in the most powerful positions in sports. This Essay examines the use of "network"-focused affirmative action programs prior to moving to more aggressive strategies. The sports industry, seen by many as a societal microcosm, may provide some answers for the race problems in broader American society.

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