Carpe Diem

The twisted ‘logic’ of diversity

The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport (TIDES) at the University of Central Florida puts out a series of annual racial and gender “report cards” on professional sports including basketball, baseball, football, and soccer (see a list here) and they’ve recently added a new “report card” on sports writers. I’ve reported on their questionable reports before, see this CD post from last summer. Here are results from two recent “report cards,” one on the NBA and one on Associated Press Sports Editors (ASPE) member newspapers:

1. The 2012 Racial and Gender Report Card: National Basketball Association

NBA players for the 2011-2012 season: 82% of the NBA’s players were people of color, decreasing by one percentage point from last season. The percentage of African-American players in the league remained constant from the 2010-2011 season at 78%.

Latino players comprised 3% of all NBA players, dropping one percentage point from last season. Both Asian players and players categorized as other races decreased to less than 1% of all players. The percentage of white NBA players increased to 18% for the 2011-2012 season. This is a one percentage point increase from the 2010-2011 NBA season, in which the lowest percentage of white NBA players was recorded since the Racial and Gender Report Card began reporting the composition of the NBA teams. International players comprised 17% of the NBA’s players during the 2011-2012 season, remaining constant from last season. This remains the lowest percentage of international players since the 2003-2004 season.

NBA Grade for Players: Race: A+

2. Total staffs of all Associated Press Sports Editors (ASPE) member newspapers

The percentage of total staffs comprised of women and people of color increased for the APSE member newspapers in 2012. In 2012, 86% of APSE newspapers’ total staffs were white men and women, which was a 1.4 percentage point decrease from 2010 (87.4%).

African-Americans, Latinos, Asians, and “others” held 7.6%, 3.7%, 2.5%, and 0.3%, respectively, in 2012. In 2012, women made up 14.6% of total staffs of APSE member newspapers. This was a 3.2 percentage point increase from 2010, when women held 11.4% of total staffs of APSE member newspapers.

In 2010, white men and women comprised 87.4% of the total staffs of all APSE member newspapers, while African-Americans, Latinos, and Asians were measured at 6.9%, 3.3%, and 1.9%, respectively. In 2008, white men and women comprised 88.3% of the total staffs, while African-Americans, Latinos, and Asians were recorded at 6.2%, 3%, and 1.7%, respectively. In 2006, white men and women comprised 88.6% of the total staffs, while African-Americans, Latinos, and Asians were determined to be 6.1%, 3.5%, and 1.3%, respectively. The percentage of total staff comprised of “other” people of color in every APSE study has been recorded at less than 1% each time.

The percentage of total staffs comprised of women has remained similar in each of the previous APSE studies at approximately 11% each year before jumping to 14.6% in 2012.

Grades for APSE total staffs: Race: C+/B- and Gender: F

MP: So there seems to be some rather inconsistent and twisted “logic” here. The NBA gets a letter grade of A+ for the racial composition of its players, even though blacks (at 78% of NFL players) are far over-represented relative to their share of the overall population (13.1%), and all three of the other racial categories are grossly under-represented in the NBA relative to their share of the population: whites (18% of NBA players vs. 63.4% of the population, Latinos (3% vs. 16.7%), and Asians (1% vs. 5%). By any realistic metric of racial diversity based on racial representations in the general population, it would sure seem like the NBA deserves a letter grade of F. Apparently, the only minority group that matters are blacks, since the NBA gets an A+ even with the significant under-representation of Latinos and Asians.

And that metric seems to be the one applied to sports writers that results in that group getting a letter grade of C+/B- for race and a grade of F for gender. That is, white sports writers and staffers, and especially white male staffers, are over-represented at ASPE newspapers relative to their shares of the total population. Therefore, because women are unrepresented relative to men, the ASPE papers get a letter grade of F, and because black, Hispanic, and Asian staffers of both genders are under-represented relative to whites, the ASPE papers get a letter grade of C+/B-.

Bottom Line: I guess the twisted “logic” of diversity can be stated as follows: Whenever women or racial groups are under-represented relative to their share of the general population for employment, college admissions, STEM careers, political office, positions of leadership, head coaching positions, boards of directors, etc., there’s an obvious lack of diversity caused by unaddressed, unconscious, or intentional gender or racial discrimination, and that under-representation must be addressed until proportional representation is achieved. However, whenever women or minority groups are over-represented in any outcome or group (e.g. veterinarians or NBA players) relative to their share of the population, that lack of diversity and over-representation is completely acceptable and need not be addressed. Did I get that right?

Update: Based on the lack of female directors at TIDES, doesn’t the organization deserve an F for gender?

16 thoughts on “The twisted ‘logic’ of diversity

  1. Yes, you got that right. Diversity doesn’t mean what Websters says it does. Diversity is the presence of lots of the “right” groups. Too many white males is not right. Too many women or blacks is right. And as Curtis Purington pointed out above, diversity clearly doesn’t extend to viewpoints or thinking. That’s because you clearly benefit by sitting next to or being taught by a diverse group of skin colors. You don’t benefit by sitting next to or being taught by people whose viewpoints are actually diverse.

  2. I’m guessing their rationale would be that minorities and women are historically oppressed groups in the US. Therefore, if a minority now dominates the NBA, that must be the result of competition, ie the blacks are just better, whereas if white males still dominate journalism, that’s probably the result of the old boy’s club still raging along. There is some logic to such inferences, certainly one can’t argue that blacks are conspiring to dominate the NBA or NFL when the majority of executives in those sports, the ones who hire the athletes, are white. The journalism conclusion is harder, as it’s certainly possible that white males are either better at or just happen to congregate in journalism more, just as 80% of education majors are women. It’s probably a mix of those benign reasons and perhaps some discrimination, as a majority of journalism majors these days are probably female, yet the profession is still dominated by males. With the upcoming death of all the newspapers and the rise of blogs these days, I suspect that imbalance will be corrected soon.

  3. “Diversity is whatever we say it is. NBA Players? No problem – the composition of the team is a reflection of pure meritocracy. The NBA front offices and elsewhere? The fact that it does not have the same composition as that of the players is evidence of racism. Anywhere there is disparate representation – it is evidence of racism – except when we say it is not”

  4. Wow so 4 men: 2 black males, a jewish male and potentially another jewish male stands in authority to judge grades for diversity. This type of blatant hypocrisy should destroy any credibility.

  5. Prof Perry asked :

    Did I get that right?

    Yes, you got that right. Why are you still expecting them to have a problem with being hypocritical?

    You seem to think they care about fairness. When will you learn that they do not?

  6. “one can’t argue that blacks are conspiring to dominate the NBA or NFL when the majority of executives in those sports, the ones who hire the athletes, are white”

    True, but there still is the assumption that white players can’t play. That infects football too, in most positions. There have been interviews where white players have said they were told straight up they weren’t going to be hired. Were such motives used to not hire blacks, it would be evidence of illegal discrimination.

    Those attitudes can be a great resource for your team, if you’re willing to avoid them. Look at how good the New England Patriots have been for years now, by picking up discarded white players from other teams and forging them into a perennial super bowl contender. Naturally, they are derided as an allegedly racist team.

  7. And how many Asian female refs are there in the NBA? Should they not get an “F” in this regard?

    Really, this is too silly to warrant comment.

    I hate racism, or religious hatred, or sexism (including bashing white males).

    The NBA also discriminates against short white women, btw. Not a one on the courts.

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