Fielding a Team for the Fans: The Societal Consequences and Title VII Implications of Race-Considered Roster Construction in Professional Sport

54 Pages Posted: 10 May 2006  

N. Jeremi Duru

American University - Washington College of Law

Abstract

Professional sports organizations' relationships with their players are, like other employer-employee relationships, subject to scrutiny under the antidiscrimination mandates embedded in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Professional sports organizations are, however, unique among employers in many respects. Most notably, unlike other employers, professional sports organizations attract avid supporters who identify deeply with the teams and their players. To the extent an organization racially discriminates, therefore, such discrimination creates the risk that fans will identify with the homogenous or racially disproportionate roster that results. The consequences of such race-based team identification are wide-reaching and potentially tragic. Through engaging the race-considered roster construction phenomenon, with particular attention to the discriminatory histories of Major League Baseball's Boston Red Sox and the National Basketball Association's Boston Celtics, this article explores the societal discord race-considered roster construction breeds and Title VII's role in thwarting it. As the construction of Major League Baseball's 2005 New York Mets suggests, however, race-considered roster construction may favor non-white players, just as it has traditionally favored white players. As such, this article also explores Title VII's application to such race-considered roster construction, the extent to which developing affirmative action jurisprudence might shield this form of race-considered roster construction from Title VII liability, and whether Title VII's inapplicability in this context would result in the aforementioned negative societal consequences.

Keywords: Sport, Athletics, Employment, Discrimination, Title VII, Race, Violence, Red Sox, Celtics, Jazz, Mets

Suggested Citation

Duru, N. Jeremi, Fielding a Team for the Fans: The Societal Consequences and Title VII Implications of Race-Considered Roster Construction in Professional Sport. Temple University Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2006-08; Washington Univeristy Law Quarterly, Vol. 84, p. 375, 2006. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=901474

N. Jeremi Duru (Contact Author)

American University - Washington College of Law ( email )

4300 Nebraska Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20016
United States
202-274-4414 (Phone)

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