WNBA partnership offers internships, mentoring for Black youth


But will the Lynx join this national diversity effort?



The WNBA recently has joined forces with 100 Black Men of America to create more mentoring opportunities for Blacks.

100 Black Men was founded in New York City in 1963 and then became a national organization with nine chapters in 1986. Today there are 116 chapters in the United States, England and the Caribbean with members who include corporate executives, physicians, attorneys, entrepreneurs, educators and men from numerous other professions.

Two key components of the WNBA-100 Black Men partnership is a Dads and Daughters program and for two members of the Collegiate 100, an auxiliary organization to 100 Black Men, to be considered for a summer internship at the league’s New York headquarters. It seems to fit nicely with the group’s overall mission of offering “unique, innovative mentoring initiatives that are locally relevant.”

“We do have a presence” in several W markets, such as Atlanta where there are four 100 Black Men chapters and two in the Los Angeles area, says Marvin Dickerson. An executive committee member, he further states that the national organization is encouraging WNBA franchises to establish “a strategic long-term relationship…in [their] local community, and the relationship needs to be mutually rewarding.”

“Most of the players on the court are college graduates,” continues Dickerson. And not to mention the fact that many of these same female players are Black: “We think that is a good message and image to convey to our young people,” he points out.

But even more so, the opportunity for young Blacks to be exposed to “the business of the WNBA” is even more important. “They have a lot of people off the court — they have salespeople, sports staff, trainers, advertising, marketing…all types of people that support their business. This provides us the opportunity to give our kids exposure to business behind basketball at the ground level.”

Although Dickerson says Minnesota does not have a 100 Black Men chapter, we still wanted to know where the Lynx fit when it comes to providing internships. The team regularly brings in summer interns, but most if not all are White. We called the team’s chief operating officer, Conrad Smith, last week for comment but did not get a response by press time.

The Lynx have their players out and about all the time. But what about front office types — why can’t our Black youth see these folk, especially if these persons look like them? It’s what’s behind the scenes that counts even more than scoring a basket on the court.


The 100 Black Men message should be adopted by every WNBA franchise, including Minnesota.


“Not all of our kids are aspiring to be professional athletes,” believes Dickerson. “That young person may be interested in marketing or sales, and then they would be more interested in talking to the V-P of sales. Then we want to make sure that that young person understands that what we are exposing them to [is] a group of people or an organization that has more to offer than just the game of basketball.

“It is about the life lessons, the experiences — it is about the processes that you go through in life,” he notes. “The lessons on the court are very valuable…but we also want  kids to see those things play out behind the scenes in other areas.

“The players may only be there four to six months out of the year, and then they go overseas or go home. But the people that are behind the franchise — the executives, salespeople and the marketing [people] — show up every day to go to work,” Dickerson emphasizes. “Connecting with them…might be more important than connecting with [the players] on the court.”

Such connections for Black youth, therefore, should not be restricted to only players’ photo ops and interview sessions.

The 100 Black Men message should be adopted by every WNBA franchise, including Minnesota — to “have a positive impact in the young people and the communities that we serve,” concludes Dickerson.


New Wolves’ record-making TV schedule lacks color

Minnesota Timberwolves officials announced last week that a franchise-record 95 percent of its 2012-13 season games will be televised locally either on Fox Sports North or Channel 29.

However, unless the still-to-be-announced Wolves play-by-play announcer changes this soon, the entire television and radio broadcast crew virtually will be all White, save for analyst Quincy Lewis for the upcoming season.


Did you know …?

What is the percentage of Black front-office personnel in WNBA franchises? (Answer in next week’s “View.”)

Answer to last week’s question: How many current and former WNBA players won medals at the 2012 Summer Olympics? A total of 24 — including 14 Black females: nine gold medals for the United States, four silver medals for France, and a bronze medal for Australia (Elizabeth Cambage).


Charles Hallman welcomes reader responses to challman@spokesman-recorder.com.