The NBA recently moved away from the term “owner” in favor of “governor,” to refer to the person who holds a controlling stake in a franchise. While I can see why the language is a problem, the change in nomenclature is an overreaction.
In a league where approximately three-fourths of the players are black, the term “owner” holds a different sort of weight. The title has been compared to a slave owner due to the racial differences between most of the league and the “governors.” A majority of the “governors” in the NBA are white men outside of the occasional international owner and Michael Jordan.
The term “owner” is assigned to the person, however the issues in the league go beyond the label the people that are in power. Coaches, general managers, and “governors” are all predominantly white males, unlike the majority of the players in the league. Attention should be focused more on how the league can get more diversity into positions of power. Women coaches are slowly making their way onto coaching staffs, but there are no female head coaches. The NBA has done a better job than the NFL in terms of hiring coaches of color, but there is still a reoccuring theme. Executives and people on the business side of the team, unless they are former players, are predominantly white males. Progress can be made on more than just the name of the “governor.”
The person(s) who hold majority stock in the team do just that, hold stock in the team, not any individual player. \The team, the jerseys, the logos, the brand, can all be traced back to the “governors,” but the actions of the players and their individual freedoms are completely separate. The contracts that bind the players to the team have clauses that give them the freedom to leave, request a trade, and make millions of dollars. The “governor” often has no say in player contracts and simply just works with the financials of the franchise.
Whether “governor” or “owner” change should be focused on society, and the larger issues in the league instead of a single word. The word, having had no issue in any other professional sport, has somehow gained more traction than Colin Kapearnick and his choice to kneel during the National Anthem in the NFL. Kapearnick and other NFL players have pushed the agenda to show the racial and socioeconomic disparities in the U.S.A. by kneeling during the National Anthem. The message they are spreading, regardless of the manner of how they go about it, still offers more value to our society than the debate over the use of the word “owner.”
I fully support the use of professional sports to promote social change and improvement. From the equal pay for women to awareness of police brutality, the one of the biggest platforms in the world is the perfect place to initiate social change. This being said, to focus on the nomenclature and use of “owner” when these individuals do indeed own the team, seems absurd, especially when it is replaced by the term “governor.”