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Articles by Dr. Lapchick

Date of Release: December 15, 2013
Nelson Mandela Laid to Rest
by Richard Lapchick

The 10 days of mourning for Nelson Mandela have come to an end after he was buried Sunday with his ancestors in the rural town of Qunu. The commemorations included Tuesday's memorial service at FNB Stadium, the 100,000-plus people who passed by his casket at the Union Buildings in Pretoria and hundreds of events in South Africa and around the globe. I have never seen such love for anyone in my lifetime.

His body was flown from Pretoria to the Eastern Cape on Saturday night. The roads from the Mthatha airport to Qunu were lined with thousands of people who were dancing and singing. Suddenly the global and national attention was local with the people who so identify with Nelson Mandela as family and neighbors.

As the sun set Saturday, the men in Mandela's family, tribal chiefs and African National Congress leaders gathered for a private all-night vigil in the tradition of Mandela's native Thembu clan. His body sat in his own bedroom, which overlooked his grave site.

I have been committed to the anti-apartheid movement and in post-apartheid South Africa for nearly 45 years, so when I came here this week for the services, I tried to do everything with the South African people and not ask for special requests. I knew that I needed to get access to the memorial service on Tuesday so I asked. But when I went to see Nelson Mandela lying in state, I was simply one of 100,000 who passed his coffin.

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Date of Release: December 14, 2013
Mourners Wait Hours to Celebrate
by Richard Lapchick

After absorbing the news of the passing of Nelson Mandela and making it to South Africa for Tuesday's memorial services, I joined and watched as the people of South Africa continued to express their love for Nelson Mandela.

I wanted to visit Mandela's old home in Soweto at 8115 Orlando West, which had been the scene of dancing and singing after he passed, and also to go where he had been living most recently in the Houghton section of Johannesburg.

I had been on the street to see the Mandelas' original house when I first helped bring the NBA to South Africa in 1993. My wife, Ann, and our 5-year-old, Emily, were with me, along with David Stern, Dikembe Mutombo, Patrick Ewing, Alonzo Mourning, Wes Unseld and Lenny Wilkens. Ann and I will always remember Emily getting down on the floor of the van after observing that Mandela's house was surrounded by tin-roofed shanties that were typical of the houses and poverty in Soweto. It was her first experience with serious poverty, and she couldn't look at directly.

That poverty was, of course, overwhelmingly the indisputable result of the apartheid regime's oppression of the 81 percent of the population who were people of color.

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Date of Release: December 11, 2013
Mandela is a Lasting Inspiration
by Richard Lapchick

The FNB Stadium was blanketed by low-hanging clouds, cool temperatures, strong winds and continuous rain during the state memorial service for Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela. But nothing could dampen the celebration attended by nearly a hundred heads of state and 55,000 to 60,000 South Africans.

During the 13-hour flight from JFK to Johannesburg, I recalled memories of President Mandela and the brutal history of apartheid that led to the amazing transformation of a nation dominated by oppression, hopelessness and hate into one where love, forgiveness and reconciliation swept the people.

I listened all night to the songs of Miriam Makeba, the giant of a talent whose music inspired her African brothers and sisters to believe in what they could not see, to put a floor on the despair caused by apartheid and a roof over the people's dreams of freedom.

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Date of Release: December 5, 2013
Missing Nelson Mandela
by Richard Lapchick

This is a day I hoped would never come. The loss of Nelson Mandela is impossible to measure.

Mandela, who died Thursday at age 95, is perhaps the most beloved political figure in my lifetime. It didn't matter whether you were liberal, conservative or radical; black or white; man or woman: This man brought people together. And part of his humanity was understanding the role sports could play.

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Date of Release: January 17, 2012
Muhammad Ali: Ultimate role model
by Richard Lapchick

Professional athletes: Take note. You might think you can create a legacy by winning championships or amassing great statistics. You might think you can say and do anything as long as you are in the public eye for your athletic ability. But look around and see how enduring those who came before you are. You'll find this common bond: The former great athletes whose legacies are secure are the ones who made important connections with their communities.

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Date of Release: January 9, 2012
College athletics shows diversity progress, room for growth
by Richard Lapchick

Two reports issued late in 2011 highlight some of the positive changes regarding hiring practices in college sports, as well as some of the areas where college athletics is terribly behind the rest of sports regarding issues of diversity and inclusion.

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Date of Release: November 30, 2011
Violence against women needs action
by Richard Lapchick

As someone who has followed sport and social issues for more than four decades, I know the power of sport to heal communities, effect positive social change and bring people together. I know, too, that sport has been a powerful way to expose the general public to problems rarely discussed openly in our society.

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Date of Release: November 13, 2011
A Lifetime of Battling Bias
by Harvey Araton

In Richard Lapchick’s long battle against racial bias in sports, numbers have been his oral weapon of choice, reliable and irrefutable, though admittedly not the most effective means of commanding a room.

“Because I use a lot of statistics when I speak and that can bore people, sometimes I need to get their attention first,” said Lapchick, the author of the widely quoted racial and gender report cards that study hiring practices of professional and amateur sports.

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Date of Release: October 13, 2011
Rooney Rule, Goodell Factor Into Improved NFL Diversity
by Richard Lapchick

If I was asked to rank the various professional sports leagues for racial and gender hiring practices 10 years ago, the NFL would have ranked last. In the 2001 Racial and Gender Report Card, the NFL earned a B for race and a D for gender for a combined low C. That put the NFL behind all the other pro leagues, colleges, the U.S. Olympic Committee and the national governing bodies.

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Date of Release: August 1, 2011
Madison Avenue Needs a Rooney Rule
by Richard Lapchick

Madison Avenue ad agencies need a Rooney Rule for future hires in their creative director positions. The rule, which requires NFL teams to interview candidates who are people of color for head coaching and senior management positions, helped transform the NFL from a league that had almost all white head coaches to one where seven of the past 10 Super Bowl teams have employed people of color as head coaches or general managers. 

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Date of Release: May 17, 2011
Dean Smith and a Civil Rights Legacy
by Richard Lapchick

This Tuesday marks the 57th anniversary of the landmark Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka that led to the desegregation of America's schools. While many remember the decision, not so many recall that the board of education in that case oversaw the schools of Topeka. Below the high school level across Kansas -- as well as at many levels all across America -- schools were still segregated before 1954.

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Date of Release: May 16, 2011
Sports Media's Diversity Lags Behind Leagues That It Covers
by Richard Lapchick

White men continue to dominate the top-level sports media positions. For those seeking diversity in the media, there was not much good news in the 2010-11 Associated Press Sports Editors Racial and Gender Report Card. The media had the worst grades for both racial and gender hiring practices among all the report cards issued in 2010 and 2011.

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Date of Release: May 6, 2011
Fitz Hill Still Recruiting, Coaching, Leading
by Richard Lapchick

Despite a strong academic background and experience as an assistant in the powerhouse SEC, Fitz Hill's tenure as a BCS head coach was short. But sports' loss has been academia's and society's gain.

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Date of Release: March 23, 2011
Tourney Should Favor Academics
by Richard Lapchick

As the prominent racial justice champion Cornell West said, "Race matters."

As men's and women's basketball teams take the court in the NCAA tournament this week, there is so much joy and happiness on the campuses involved. The hard work of the student-athletes who have brought their schools to this point will be applauded in so many ways.

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Date of Release: March 21, 2011
College Diversity Figures Improve; Areas of Concern Remain
by Richard Lapchick

Amid March Madness, colleges received some good off-the-court news recently with the publication of the College Racial and Gender Report Card by the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport at the University of Central Florida. I co-authored the annual study along with Chris Kaiser and Brian Hoff. 

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Date of Release: November 15, 2010
College Football Enjoys Bright Year for Coaching Diversity
by Richard Lapchick

This is a big time of the year for college sports at the elite level. Conference championships are soon to be claimed in football. Bowl teams will be announced. Other fall sports are wrapping up conference titles and headed toward NCAA championships. Men’s and women’s basketball teams can’t wait to play in front of real audiences in person and on TV. 

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Date of Release: October 22, 2010
Historic game set for Charlottesville
by Richard Lapchick

On one sideline: head coach Mike London.

On the other sideline: head coach Ron English.

Overseeing one athletic department: Craig Littlepage.

Overseeing the other athletic department: Derrick Gragg.

These four people make Saturday's game between Eastern Michigan and Virginia an historic matchup.It's the first time in the history of FBS football that two teams competing against one another bring African-American head coaches and African-American athletic directors into the game.

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Date of Release: August 23, 2010
Baskeetball Without Borders brings hoops, hope, help to Africa
by Richard Lapchick

I need to start out with three disclaimers. I am the son of a pioneering NBA coach. I am someone who has been in love with the continent of Africa for more than 40 years. Finally, I have spent most of my adult life in programs that try to use sport as a vehicle for social responsibility and assist communities in becoming safer, healthier and better places. That being said, I believe everything that follows is still objective and accurate.

I recently returned from my 35th trip to Africa. This time it was with the Basketball Without Borders program led by the NBA. In terms of social responsibility on an international level, few organizations are comparable to what the NBA has done anone are comparable on the continent of Africa. The NBA has opened a new office in Johannesburg for the continent. The office is led by Amadou Fall, who was previously an executive with the Dallas Mavericks and himself is a son of Senegal.

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Date of Release: August 19, 2010
Good work: Hoops triumphs in Senegal
by Richard Lapchick

I fell in love with Africa when I made the first of my 35 trips to the continent; to Uganda in 1967. Each time I go, I am amazed by the people and what they are doing.

I have just returned from my latest journey to Africa, this time to Dakar, Senegal, in West Africa with the NBA's Basketball Without Borders program. I was a guest of the program on this trip, as I was last year when Basketball Without Borders visited South Africa. I wrote about that trip, too. And I accompanied the NBA on its first trip to South Africa back in 1993.

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Date of Release: May 17, 2010
MLB Excels in Racial Diversity; Gender Category Needs Work
by Richard Lapchick

Major League Baseball may have its issues, but when it comes to hiring women and people of color in their team front offices and in the central office, MLB has it figured out. This was apparent when the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport at the University of Central Florida released the 2010 MLB Racial and Gender Report Card (RGRC) in April.

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Date of Release: May 6, 2010
Super Bowl ads: Time for a change
by Richard Lapchick

When the New Orleans Saints and Indianapolis Colts took the field on Feb. 7, their Super Bowl wasn't the only game being played. There was a championship at stake for Madison Avenue advertising agencies that evening, too. As the players were on the field fighting for yards and points, corporate America was fighting for consumer dollars.

As I watched this year with my wife, Ann, we both remarked how many ads seemed to go way over the line with stereotypical images that could be considered offensive. In the months since they aired, I've looked further into the content of those ads and the people who produced them; and it became apparent that both areas reflected a stunning lack of cultural diversity and sensitivity.

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Date of Release: April 2, 2010
Darryl Williams lived a true hero's life
by Richard Lapchick

Darryl Williams was laid to rest on Saturday in Boston. I was lucky enough to have him as as both a hero and a dear friend for more than 25 years.

I first learned about Darryl in 1980 while I was writing a book, and his story compelled me to want to join the world of sport. One of the first things I did when I helped start Northeastern University's Center for Sport in Society in 1984 was to hire Darryl to speak to students in the Boston schools.

I knew the day I met him he would become a lifelong friend. And he was.

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Date of Release:March 29, 2010
Excellence in Classroom Should Coexist with March Madness
by Richard Lapchick

Each March, I author a widely quoted study on the graduation rates of the men and women playing on the teams that make it to the NCAA Division I basketball tournaments. The study examines the academic performance of male and female basketball student athletes and of African-American and white basketball student athletes. When I first started doing this, the news for the men’s teams was almost always bad; the women have always done well.

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Date of Release: February 12, 2010
Eddie Robinson Museum a fitting tribute
by Richard Lapchick

It could not be more fitting that the Eddie Robinson Museum opens right in the middle of Black History Month 2010.

The grand opening on Saturday will be preceded by a huge banquet in Coach Robinsion's honor Friday night with keynote speaker Mike Tomlin, who knows he wouldn't have been coach of the 2009 Super Bowl champion Pittsburgh Steelers without Robinson.

It has been almost three years since Robinson died in April 2007. He led a life so extraordinary that it was worthy of a museum. When I think of iconic African-American sports figures who changed America, I think of Jackie Robinson, Muhammad Ali, Arthur Ashe and Eddie Robinson.

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Date of Release: January 11, 2010
Don't Let Some Transgressions Diminish Opinion of All Athletes
by Richard Lapchick

It would be easy to view issues in sports in the past year and become cynical about the role athletes play as role models or even if they should ever be role models in the first place. The actions of some athletes often make it more difficult to say athletes are stars in the community as well. But I am convinced that most are just that.

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Date of Release: December 31, 2009
Brutus used sports to fight apartheid
by Richard Lapchick

Dennis Brutus died in his sleep Saturday in Cape Town, South Africa, at age 85. Between the early 1960s and the end of apartheid in South Africa, the architects of that most racist regime rarely slept, due to the force of major activists such as Brutus.

He was a renowned poet, but I knew Dennis as a freedom fighter who used sport as his weapon. In the course of our first meeting 40 years ago, Dennis Brutus changed my life.

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Date of Release: December 9, 2009
Historic week for minority coaches
by Richard Lapchick

One year ago this week, I wrote that we needed a civil rights movement in college football. As of Dec. 8, 2008, there were four African-American coaches left in the FBS (Football Bowl Subdivision), the lowest number in 15 years. African-American coaches at Kansas State, Washington and Mississippi State had just lost their jobs. Late in the 2008 hiring process, African-American coaches were hired at New Mexico, New Mexico State and Eastern Michigan -- but those additions hardly made up for the losses at Big 12, Pac-10 and SEC schools. Randy Shannon at Miami (Fla.) was the only African-American BCS conference coach left.

Now, with Florida defensive coordinator Charlie Strong being introduced as Louisville's new football coach on Wednesday afternoon, everything has changed. With several coaching positions remaining to be filled, there are 11 African-American head coaches, and 13 coaches of color among the 120 FBS schools. That is four more than the previous high in the history of college football.

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Date of Release: October 26, 2009
Honor Brand with an open, inclusive search for successor
by Richard Lapchick

It is still hard to believe that Myles Brand is no longer with us. We all lost a warrior for student athletes, Title IX and civil rights in sports. On Wednesday, thousands will
gather in Indianapolis to pay tribute to his life and achievements. I am sure that many will speak of the difference he made in having college sport live up to its ideals.

There has been much speculation in the media about the process to choose his successor. Many, including myself, wonder how we can fill the shoes of such a giant. It would be a tribute to Myles if the process were as open and inclusive as possible.

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Date of Release: September 25, 2009
Mark Sanchez and football's lost past
by Richard Lapchick

The New York Jets are off to a 3-0 start and the media is in a frenzy over quarterback Mark Sanchez, especially after he outgunned superhero Tom Brady and the New England Patriots in Week 2 of the NFL season.

Less noticed, though, is Sanchez's presence among the less than 1 percent of NFL players who are of Latino background. Their numbers are growing, but those players remain mainly off the radar screen.

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Date of Release: September 17, 2009
Brand: 'A friend in the justice world'
by Richard Lapchick

America lost a champion for student-athletes, for Title IX and for civil rights in sports with the passing of Dr. Myles Brand on Wednesday. No one did more to make college sport live up to its ideals. We knew he'd been fighting deadly pancreatic cancer since January, but no one was ready when the announcement of his passing came.

Like many others, I lost a hero and a friend.

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Date of Release: September 14, 2009
'They gave me back my hope' - South Africa Trip
by Richard Lapchick

In Johannesburg earlier this month, all the sports talk was about the 2010 World Cup. It dominated the sports pages and TV time. And yet, the NBA created its own space here with the arrival of its Basketball Without Borders (BWB) Program.

I traveled with the BWB and watched with interest as it happened, not only to observe the effect of NBA stars Dwight Howard, Dirk Nowitzki and Chris Bosh and WNBA legends Theresa Edwards and Nykesha Sales on the people of South Africa, but also the effect of South Africa on them. And I saw the African athletes on the trip -- Dikembe Mutombo, Luc Mbah a Moute and D.J. Mbenga -- as they watched their teammates react to everything.

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Date of Release: September 14, 2009
South African trip a vivid example of how sports make a difference
by Richard Lapchick

I recently returned from Johannesburg, South Africa, as part of the NBA’s Basketball Without Borders program. It was the sixth time I visited South Africa, a country I came to love while helping lead the sports boycott of its apartheid-era government during the 1970s, ’80s and until Nelson Mandela was inaugurated president in 1994.

Since its first trip in 2001, BWB has become the largest global initiative of any professional sports league, reaching 11 countries on five continents, with more than 300 NBA players, coaches and staff having served as camp coaches and mentors for nearly 1,200 young athletes from more than 100 countries.

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Date of Release: June 15, 2009
'Giving back' more than just words to Magic, owner
by Richard Lapchick

I am unabashedly a fan of the NBA and the Orlando Magic. I grew up in a house with a father who was a coach in the early days of the NBA. Basketball was part of our lifestyle. I love the game but also what the game does for society. I have watched throughout the tenure of David Stern as commissioner of the NBA as he helped the league develop into an organization that shows how it cares in a very public way.

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Date of Release: May 27, 2009
Oregon hears the call to action
by Richard Lapchick

In December, I wrote a column calling for a civil rights movement in college football. It focused on the small percentage of African-Americans and other coaches of color among the 119 Bowl Subdivision schools in football, relative to the 46 percent of college football players who are African-American.

The call was for a series of dramatic changes, including legal action under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and informing student-athletes of the graduation rates and hiring records of each athletic department in the country to help those student-athletes make decisions about which college to attend. A lynchpin of that call was to implement an "Eddie Robinson Rule," which would require that minority candidates be interviewed for head football coach openings. I know the NCAA has opposed this because it thinks its membership will not support it.

The state of Oregon now looks poised to pass a statewide law that would mandate this. The proposed law would require that athletic departments interview minorities for all head coaching jobs in all sports and for athletic director position

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Date of Release: April 3, 2009
Kareem's calling: Building a better world
by Richard Lapchick

The image is striking: An African-American man who is a Muslim talking to audiences about Jewish people who were leaders in the early civil rights movement and how African-Americans and Jews shared a common fight against oppression. And to add to this eye-catching image, the speaker -- the man working to rebuild bridges between the African-American and Jewish communities -- is a giant in the sports world.

The man is Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

It's happening. Abdul-Jabbar is a speaker in high demand at Holocaust events and for groups fighting anti-Semitism. And to those who know him, that role isn't surprising at all.

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Date of Release: March 18, 2009
The DeFrantz credo: "Yes, you can!"
by Richard Lapchick

I have known and been friends with Anita DeFrantz for three decades, since she was a vice president of the Los Angeles Olympic Organizing Committee for the 1984 Summer Games. She is one of sports' true pioneers, both for her marvelous athletic career and for her position as perhaps the most powerful woman in international sport through her role in the International Olympic Committee. Her influence is written all over the Olympics.

Recently, she told me, "I know we are not done yet; but between 1996 and 2008, we have had twice as many women competing in the Olympics than those who competed between 1900 and 1992 combined. Forty-two percent of the Olympians were women in Beijing. When I was on the team, it was less than 20 percent."

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Date of Release: March 9, 2009
Jackie Robinson Museum Deserves Support of America's Sports
by Richard Lapchick

America needs the Jackie Robinson Museum now. It is that simple.

As the Major League Baseball opener draws closer amid the crunch of the economy, we see cutbacks all across the nation. Jobs are being cut, businesses are closing, homes are being emptied after foreclosures, wars are being waged and budgets are being slashed in every sector of the economy. America’s confidence has been shaken.

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Date of Release: February 26, 2009
Lilian Thuram's off-the-pitch courage
by Richard Lapchick

If you are a soccer fan, you know that Pele called Lilian Thuram one of the 125 greatest soccer players of all time. Thuram, who turned 37 this January, led the 1998 French team to the World Cup and appeared in 16 European championships, retiring in 2008 after a heart problem was discovered. He recently was selected as a member of the federal council of the French Football Federation.

He is a giant in the world's most popular sport.

But that is not why I am writing about him. I'm writing about him because he has used his fame to campaign for civil rights in France and throughout Europe. He is speaking out as an almost solitary voice in European sports, as when Muhammad Ali and Bill Russell spoke out in the U.S. in the 1960s. Speaking out takes enormous courage.

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Date of Release: February 17, 2009
Rens' Isaacs a world champion
by Richard Lapchick

A circle closed in the history of basketball in America when John "Wonder Boy" Isaacs passed away on Jan. 26. Isaacs, 93, was the last living player for the Harlem Renaissance, the great all-black team in the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s.

I met Isaacs 39 years ago at my father's funeral. My dad, Joe Lapchick, was the center on the Original Celtics basketball team and later coached the New York Knicks and St. John's University. Dad had told me about the rivalry between the Celtics and the Rens. They started playing at a time when blacks and whites had not competed against each other. It is hard to imagine today when we look at the NBA's being nearly 80 percent African-American and Division I college basketball's being nearly 67 percent African-American. But this was the case when the Rens and the Celtics played against each other.

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