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Sport Matters

Leadership, Power, and the Quest for Respect in Sports

Kenneth L. Shropshire

Donald Sterling. Ray Rice. The Washington Redskins. The Miami Dolphins. NCAA Athletes.

These names, among countless others, have blanketed the headlines as the media has brought global attention to several recent sports controversies. Now, Kenneth L. Shropshire, The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania professor of Legal Studies and Business Ethics and Director of the Wharton Sports Business Initiative, uses these stories as a prism for exploring the leadership challenges facing team owners, management, players, and fans.

In Sport Matters: Leadership, Power, and the Quest for Respect in Sports, Shropshire examines the need for diversity, inclusion, respect, and equality in sports, focusing on the need for leadership to embrace and deliver these principles in a real and tangible way within the sports industry. He also introduces the Sports Power Matrix, a framework for understanding power within the sports industry.

Sport Matters addresses what the Donald Sterling drama can teach us about race and the need for inclusion at the ownership level; the lessons learned from the NFL and Ray Rice case; the Washington Redskins name and the economics of change; what the Miami Dolphins matter tells us about respect in the workplace and beyond; and compensation and equality in “amateur” sports.

Sport Matters, filled with disturbing revelations and uncomfortable truths, also provides hope, revealing how obstacles to achieving an ideal culture of equality and respect within the sports industry can be removed. Shropshire argues that while change matters, continued emphasis on diversity, inclusion and respect is needed to create true progress.

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About the Author

Kenneth L. Shropshire

Kenneth L. Shropshire is the CEO of the Global Sport Institute and the adidas Distinguished Professor of Global Sport at Arizona State University. He is also the David W. Hauck Professor Emeritus of Legal Studies and Business Ethics at The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. His most recent books areThe Miseducation of the Student Athlete: How to Fix College SportsSport Matters: Leadership, Power, and the Quest for Respect in Sports; Negotiate Like the Pros: A Top Sports Negotiator’s Lessons for Making Deals, Building Relationships and Getting What You Want; and Being Sugar Ray: The Life of America’s Greatest Boxer and First Celebrity Athlete. His other works include In Black and White: Race and Sports in America; The Business of Sports; and The Business of Sports Agents. ... More


“In Sport Matters, Kenneth L. Shropshire shines a light on recent sports controversies that show us how far we have to go to create a culture of respect and civility in sport. Fortunately, he also recommends steps toward making important changes, which we hope will lead to true progress. Highly recommended for anyone who wants to understand the critical leadership challenges in sports today.”


—Stephen M. Ross, Owner, Miami Dolphins

“There has been significant social change over the years, but as Kenneth L. Shropshire argues in Sport Matters, the power and money are still not available to all, regardless of gender, race, and sexual orientation. Shropshire shows how we can make deeper progress toward leveling the playing field.”

—Billie Jean King, Former World #1 Tennis Champion and Activist

“Kenneth L. Shropshire’s Sport Matters is nothing short of essential reading. In a diverse society, each individual should enjoy the respect and equal access to which they are entitled, regardless of their race or any other aspect of their background. As Shropshire notes, this is still not a reality within the world of sports. In Sport Matters, Shropshire points the way forward. This book should be read by all of those who are interested in, or even curious about, sports.”

—Charles J. Ogletree, Jr., Harvard Law School Jesse Climenko Professor of Law and author of more than one dozen books

Sport Matters makes a seminal contribution to our understanding of the power structures, roles, and broader societal contexts and relevance of the American sports enterprise today. Professor Kenneth L. Shropshire’s firsthand knowledge and insights, born of years of experience working and consulting with sports leagues, teams, and individual sports figures, combined with the keen analytical and deconstruction skills of the practicing attorney, uniquely positions him to explore and explain critical connections and relationships between developments within and beyond the sports arena. A must read for all who are seriously interested in the current state, institutional functioning and trajectory, and broader meaning and consequences of sport in America today.”

—Harry Edwards, PhD, Professor Emeritus, University of California, Berkeley, and Consultant, National Football League and National Basketball Association

“The concerns and solutions set forth in Sport Matters are invaluable for those focused on improving sport and its impact around the globe.”

—Mori Taheripour, Former Senior Advisor, Sport for Development, US Agency for International Development (USAID)

“In Sport Matters, Kenneth L. Shropshire examines several troubling controversies in sports that stem from a persistent lack of diversity, inclusion, respect, and equality. But Shropshire offers ways to address these challenges and attests to sport’s ability to combat racial, gender, and social inequities in sports and throughout society. It is a must read for anyone who wishes to see sports as a means for social change.”

—Richard E. Lapchick, Chair, DeVos Sport Business Management Program, University of Central Florida, and Director, Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport

“Kenneth L. Shropshire’s Sport Matters reminds us that diversity and inclusion strengthen and enrich us all. The book is highly recommended for those who wish to understand the need for respect in the world of sports and beyond.”

—Patrick T. Harker, President, University of Delaware

Sport Matters confirms that Ken Shropshire is the nation’s most thoughtful and incisive voice on issues of sport and society.In the book, Shropshire examines a number of challenges and societal ills with which the sports world is currently grapplingfrom racial disparagement to domestic violence to homophobia to questions of exploitation in collegiate athleticsand puts them in solid historical context while challenging us to consider how the future could and should look.It is a brilliant exploration and a must read for anyone who questions what sport means to our society.”

N. Jeremi Duru, Law Professor, American University, and Author, Advancing the Ball


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In the Media

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January 1, 2016  |  Research at Penn
Leadership, Power, and Respect in Sports
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August 4, 2015  |  International Business Times
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April 27, 2015  |  The Post Game
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April 8, 2015  |  The Philadelphia Citizen
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Ken Shropshire discusses his book, Sport Matters, on The Tavis Smiley Show
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February 25, 2015  |  Knowledge@Wharton
The Leadership Challenges Facing the Sports Industry
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February 23, 2015  |  MSNBC, The Cycle
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February 23, 2015  |  Sports Business Daily
Plugged In: Kenneth Shropshire, Wharton Sports Business Initiative
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February 19, 2015  |  American Public Media Marketplace
PODCAST: Finding diversity in sports leadership
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February 12, 2015  |  Wharton Magazine
Why Sports Matter
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January 26, 2015  |  MSNBC, Sports Matters Show
Sport Matters in society: 1-on-1 with Kenneth Shropshire
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January 20, 2015  |  The New York Times
Success and Shortfalls in Effort to Diversify N.F.L. Coaching