The Playbook: Race in Sports From image

Running a Meaningless "Race"

By Paul Bessire,
June 25th, 2008

A grave injustice occurs in the NBA, and I have the perfect plan to fix it. I propose that, before any player is chosen in the draft on June 26, every team must first workout, interview and consider at least five "white" players. Failure to meet these demands would result in a fine and possible loss of future draft picks.

This plan must go into effect to combat a "racial" travesty in professional basketball. Quite possibly no other occupation is so misrepresentative of the "racial" and ethnic backgrounds of the American population.

2006 Census information indicates that, whereas "blacks" make up only 12.2 percent and "whites" 73.9 percent of the American people, "blacks" compose almost 75 percent of NBA basketball players while "whites" make up just over 10 percent. Accordingly, a "black" male in America has a 1-in-4,000 chance of making the NBA while a "white" male has just a 1-in-90,000 chance. Something needs to change. Right?


Why should it? The best players are in the NBA. That is all that matters and that is all that should matter.

My idea is absolutely ludicrous for that reason. It is impossible to argue against the fact that the best individual for the position should be offered that position. Yet this is precisely the argument seemingly made by many organizations across the country. In the sports world, this has been notable with the NFL. The NFL mandated that all teams must interview "minorities" before hiring a coach.

How is this fair to anyone? It says that "minorities" are not good enough to get positions on their own and that too many "whites" are.

Elsewhere, affirmative action rewards "race" and not merit. Organizations choose certain schools or locations to target in recruiting so certain "racial" quotas are met or to make the organization appear diverse.

Did I miss something? Every organization, whether it is an athletic team, school, workplace, etc., should seek the best, most capable individual for every available position. The NBA has it right, while just about everyone else has it wrong to some degree.

What is this "race"?

Growing up in a town where "racial" divides and diversity were absent, and in a home where every individual was to be treated with equal respect, I have always struggled with what others call "race." To this day, based on what I have witnessed, I only have a rough definition, and very little understanding of the phenomenon.

"Race" is merely a fabricated distinction, simply and solely used to describe the physical appearance of an individual. It has been created and inexplicably maintained by our culture. In truth, there is no "race."

No "white" appears exactly the same as another, just as no "black" looks exactly like another. We are all different.

Outside of my brothers, no one ever has, does or will have my same ancestry; there is no other individual who will ever grace this planet with my exact genetic make up. Everyone is unique. Still, race is a trait not bound by our genes, but taught to us at a young age and instilled upon us in our everyday culture.

Why is there "race"? Is it to be used as a scapegoat? Is it to create a sense of belonging? Those questions may never be answered. Instead, all sides should work as one group of inherently diverse individuals to eliminate the word, distinction, stigma, stereotypes and discrimination. No one is helped by this enigma. No one is winning the "race."

The WIS Playbook is a collection of sports articles generated by authors from within the WhatIfSports community. Contributors will include Paul Bessire and Nicole Green of, other guest writers and even registered WIS users. In the Playbook, you will find unique content that varies from our typical predictions and hypothetical matchups. If you are interested in submitting articles for the Playbook, please contact us through

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