As N.F.L. Fights Racism and Sexism, Team Owners Undercut the Message

The N.F.L. has wrestled with the problems with race and sexism extra prominently than most North American sports activities leagues. About three-quarters of its gamers are Black and roughly half of its followers are girls, however most majority house owners are white males and the league has struggled to rent nonwhite head coaches and common managers.

Individual franchises have lately confronted scandals involving allegations of sexist conduct.

In 2018, Jerry Richardson, the proprietor of the Carolina Panthers, bought the group and was fined by the N.F.L. after an investigation confirmed accusations, detailed in a Sports Illustrated report, that Richardson settled complaints of sexist and racist feedback to workers with massive payouts that got here with nondisclosure agreements. The league superb was $2.75 million, whereas Richardson’s proceeds from the sale had been no less than $2.2 billion.

Last yr, New England Patriots proprietor Robert Ok. Kraft was charged in Jupiter, Fla., with two misdemeanor counts of solicitation of prostitution. Kraft pleaded not responsible and a Palm Beach County choose threw out video proof gathered in the day spa the place Kraft twice went for massages. A 3-judge appeals courtroom panel final month heard arguments in the case, which continues to be pending. That authorized final result might immediate penalties from the league below its private conduct coverage.

The N.F.L. has tried to handle sexism amongst gamers and workers by requiring groups to interview girls for govt positions; instituting anti-harassment coaching at the league workplace and golf equipment; and requiring groups to submit plans for unconscious bias coaching and anti-racism coaching. Even so, some inclusion and variety consultants for the league have expressed frustration at the gradual tempo of change.

The league had additionally struggled to reply to protests towards racial injustice led by the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick and different gamers who knelt throughout the enjoying of the nationwide anthem starting in 2016.

After the N.F.L. neither defended nor stopped the protests instantly, Trump turned the league right into a political punching bag, calling on house owners, a few of whom closely supported him politically, to fireplace gamers who demonstrated throughout the enjoying of the nationwide anthem in 2017. Trump reiterated his stance that gamers ought to stand throughout “The Star Spangled Banner” final month, giving new gas to a divisive debate that has pitted followers towards gamers — and gamers towards group house owners.

Kaepernick final performed in the 2016 season, and when he went unsigned in 2017, he accused the house owners of colluding to maintain him out of the league due to his political views. After quite a few entertainers stated they might not carry out at N.F.L. occasions in solidarity with Kaepernick, the league paid the quarterback and his former teammate, Eric Reid, a number of tens of millions of to settle their case.

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