Lesson of the Day: ‘LeBron James Leads a Generation of Athletes Into Ownership’

Lesson of the Day: ‘LeBron James Leads a Generation of Athletes Into Ownership’

In our “What’s Going On in This Graph?” feature, we recently asked students to make observations about “Diversity in Professional Sports.” Spend a few minutes looking closely at this graph, reproduced below — or found here in a larger size.

Then ask yourself the questions we pose in this feature every week:

You can share your answers with your class, or you can read the “Reveal” at the bottom of the post that gives more information about the graph. You will use what you observed as you read the featured article.

Read the column, then answer the following questions:

1. Read the first two paragraphs of the piece. Then look back at what you noticed and wondered about the graph above. How does the graph support Kurt Streeter’s assessment of the current situation?

2. According to this column, what power do athletes have when they can get a seat at the table of a team boardroom? Are there other advantages athletes might gain when they have this voice and power?

3. How are LeBron James’s goals and actions as an owner different from those of Mario Lemieux or Michael Jordan?

4. What is your reaction to Renee Montgomery’s activism on the court, and eventual partial ownership of her former team? What other stories similar to hers does this column describe? Have you heard of still more? Explain.

5. What are some of the possibilities and strengths of grass-roots activism led by athletes? What are some of the limitations of this kind of social change?

6. This piece is a column, not a news article. In columns, writers share their opinion in their own voice. How can you tell this is a column rather than a news article simply reporting facts? What is your opinion of what this columnist concludes?

In “Faces of Power: 80% Are White, Even as U.S. Becomes More Diverse,” The Times conducted a review of more than 900 officials and executives in prominent positions to make observations about racial diversity within leadership and power.

Navigate to the section of the article with the subheading “99 people own professional baseball, basketball and football teamsand read the paragraph and view the photos.

In your journal or with your classmates, consider the following questions:

  • What is your reaction to what you discovered? How does it change or deepen your understanding of the featured article?

  • What possibilities and advantages can you imagine for athletes owning teams? What are the potential downsides or concerns?

  • How do you think things like racial and gender diversity in sports leadership could change the way that leagues operate?

  • How do you feel about the use of the term “owner” given the racial differences between team leadership and many players? Do you think this term should be changed given its association with slavery? Why or why not?

  • In the featured article, Kurt Streeter uses the term “owner-activists” in reference to LeBron James and Renee Montgomery. How do you feel about this term? Does it excite you about the opportunities for players or former players? Or do you feel that athletes, current or former, should stay out of social and political issues?

Next, think about your own community and the possibilities for activism or change for your local sports. What power do you think young people can have to make change in the sports that they are part of? For instance, consider a middle or high school sports team you’ve been involved with. Have you or your peers ever organized an action in solidarity with a social or political movement? If so, which ones? If not, are there any actions a professional sports team has taken that you would like to see your team echo? Which and why?

About Lesson of the Day

Find all our Lessons of the Day in this column.
Teachers, watch our on-demand webinar to learn how to use this feature in your classroom.