Why you should care
Because the face of sports management is changing.
Prominent female athletes have been around for a long time — shoutout to Babe Didrikson Zaharias — but women in the sports boardroom? Not so much. Like elsewhere in business, women have been sidelined in the sports world too. But that’s starting to change with trailblazers popping up in owner’s suites, front offices and other high-powered arenas.
This OZY original series profiles a handful of the key women of color to watch, as the usual boys’ club running the show behind the scenes gets an overdue shake-up.
Tamika Catchings is one of the greatest women’s basketball players of all time. Now as director of player programs and franchise development for the Indiana Pacers, WNBA Fever and the G League’s Fort Wayne Mad Ants, she’s an off-court resource for players while gaining valuable experience on the back-office development of a professional organization. She’s building a front-office-worthy résumé, but her ultimate career path is fluid. Between her role with the Pacers, owning a tea shop and a budding broadcasting career, Catchings is enjoying the flexibility after being so narrowly focused for decades as a player.
Evelyn Magley is CEO of The Basketball League, a new minor league venture launched in January as essentially the anti-NBA. The players don’t make much money and they’re required to do community service and build ties with local youth. The venture is a long shot for success, but Magley comes from a long line of breakthrough women — so she’s undeterred by the odds.
Nadine Crowley is used to having coaches and fans ignore or belittle her on the court. But she has proven an ability to shape the game — on a global level, for both men and women — as one of a dozen International Basketball Federation (FIBA) referee instructors. She’s the first Black woman to achieve the milestone after a career spent climbing the capricious, often frustrating ladder of big-time basketball officiating.
Yulin Olliver, a former snowboarder-turned-agent at Yunexis Agency, which represents the world’s top female skateboarders, has managed to keep her shred cred intact while becoming one of action sports’ most powerful super agents. And in the process, she’s doing more than anyone to elevate female skateboarders into marketable megastars.