Is Black Media Discriminated Against During Postseason and All-Star Games?

By Joe Booker
Updated: February 22, 2006

TEXAS—The late Dr. Martin Luther King made his famous “I have a dream “speech over 40-years ago. Most of Dr. King’s dreams are still just a dream. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

This brings me to the NBA and other professional organizations.

For a long time I have observed how members of the non-black media are treated by the NBA compared to the way the black media is treated, especially the black print media. The host team has influence over how tickets, parking and other media privileges are provided to the local media. Evidently, the local black media was not a priority by the Houston Rockets during All-Star Week. Yes, some of us got a pass to the game, but that was the extent of it.

The Houston Rockets should consider when making media decisions for the black media that it was the black votes that passed the referendum to build Toyota Center.

During the recent NBA All-Star Game none of the black media received all the media perks that some of the non-black media received. Tickets to the jam sessions and parking permits were not given to the black media in Houston. Those members of the black media that held regular season press credentials were moved from their regular season seats. Over 90% of the players in the NBA are black, but less than 10% of the black media are issued credentials. Some members of the non-black media have only one percent representation of players, but have more credentials than the black media.

The black media, in essence, is treated like black coaches. Black players are signed to play, but they often run into road blocks when they signed up to be a coach. Some members of the black media run into some of those same problems when they apply for credentials and other privileges that are provided to non-black members of the media.

At times, some professional teams give them impression that they are doing the black media a favor when they are given credentials.

The most segregated times in America is Sunday mornings in church and in the press box at professional games. Black members of the media are scrutinized like no other media when it comes to applying for press credentials. At the recent NBA All-Star Game in Houston, several non-blacks were issued credentials that never attended a Rockets game this season.

The Forward Times, the largest black paper in the South and one of the largest black papers in the nation, was over-looked when it came to advertising by the NBA All-Star Game.

Most professional teams feel that members of the black media should be happy by just getting a pass to games. I have covered sports for a long time. There are too many good high school and college games for me to cover to be treated like a second class citizen by some professional teams and leagues.

I remember a situation when members of the black media requested more than one credential; the media relations person began to show a large frown on his face.

Professional teams cater to Corporate America. They also cater to entertainers, who contribute zero to the game. Season ticket holders have a difficult time getting tickets to postseason and All-Star Games. Those tickets are reserved for big business, entertainers and non-black media.

In most cases, the NBA, NFL and MLB, get their recommendations from local teams as to whom and how many credentials should be issued. The league offices have no way of knowing every member of the local media. They have to rely on information provided by the local team’s media relation department. This explains why non-black media people can get credentials they want, parking and all the privileges that go with it, and members of the black media do not.

I can count the number of out-of-town black media covering postseason and all-star games. Most teams will give the local black media a limited number of regular season credentials, but when it comes to providing the black media with the same privileges in the postseason and all-star games, the playing field is no longer level.

You know the drill—last served and first denied.

The more things change, the more they stay the same.