Donald Sterling Is Blackballed From Basketball For Being A Private Racist
IT has to be said that Donald Sterling, the owner of the Clippers basketball team, doesn’t sound like the very brightest of bunnies. He’s a billionaire, self-made, so obviously he has some brains. But if you had fairly racist views would you really go into a business where you’re going to end up paying black men tens of millions of dollars a year? Which is pretty much that the owner of a basketball team in the US NBA does end up doing.
But that’s what he did and he let slip to an ex-girlfriend of his (who is herself what would be regarded as African American, or black, so clearly he doesn’t mind screwing them) that he really would prefer it if she didn’t bring black people to his basketball games. Just all most, most, odd, given the colour of his team and of a near majority of the fans. But he did it and now it looks like they’ll take his team away from him:
However, what the veteran owner of the Los Angeles Clippers basketball team may have thought was a trivial, private conversation has left him with a lifetime ban from any involvement with his team or the wider National Basketball Association, a maximum $2.5 million (£1.48 million) fine and the prospect of being forced to sell his franchise by fellow team owners.
Now we might think that a little odd, that they can force him to sell his business just because they don’t like his views. But that’s down to something special about the way that American sports are organised. We couldn’t force someone to sell Liverpool or whatever just because of their appalling views on race. It’s private property so the views of those who own it have no relevance. But that’s not the way it works in US sports. The valuable thing is in owning the franchise. And that really belongs to the league itself, not to the nominal owners. There’s no promotion or relegation in US sports. The league says there’s x number of teams and here’s the people who own those franchises. Which means, of course, that the league can also say that, well, we’re not going to let you keep that franchise.
It’s not quite confiscation of private property here.