By Meredith Somers | MIT Sloan Ideas Made to Matter | April 29, 2021
One of the qualities that makes sports so satisfying is the simplicity of the games: The team that scores the most points is the winner.
But a recent MIT Sloan workshop told a much more complicated story about opportunity and equality in athletics.
“We like to think that sports is this great meritocracy, in which winning is the only thing,” said Chris Rider, associate professor of strategy at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business. “It’s definitely not that simple, and it’s much more systemic than we think.”
Rider joined MIT Sloan associate dean Ray Reagans and senior lecturer Ben Shields this winter in a three-day exploration and analysis of the intersection of race, gender, and management through the lens of professional sports. The workshop was also taught by Shira Springer, a journalist and lecturer at Boston University’s College of Communication.
“The one thing that we wanted the students to get out of this experience was recognizing how systemic processes work,” Reagans said. “So we’re really using sports to do a lot of heavy lifting: people are emotionally attached, and it allows us to do things that you couldn’t do in other settings.”
Here are three insights for executives on how to think about systemic issues in this area in their own industries.