Thursday, May 26, 2005

Beyond Powell

Nats provide more than just talk on diversity

Aside from shoddy recent play, the hot Nats story of the moment is the news that Colin Powell has signed on with Team Malek-Zients and, as such, is somewhere between a potential and a likely future part-owner of the Washington Nationals. Powell was quick to address one implication resulting from his interest:

"In Washington, we have the opportunity to reinvigorate this city and bring baseball back to a generation of youth who have lost their connection to our nation's pastime," Powell said in a statement yesterday. "I'm encouraged by baseball's efforts to diversify its ranks and its reach, and the Washington Baseball Club shares that commitment to making this team accessible to every Washingtonian."

Here, Powell is not-too-subtly addressing the perception (backed up by statistical evidence) that African-Americans are "tuning out" the National Pastime, as has widely been reported. See, e.g., St. Barry and some other guy in the Post a couple of months ago.

It is worth noting, however, that the Nats already employ African-American members of the community in some heavy-hitting, influential positions. And, as Carla Peay of BlackAthlete.net points out, they're ladies, to boot:

Chartese Berry is the Nationals Vice President of Communications, and is responsible for community relations initiatives, media relations, and public affairs. Carleen Martin, the Nationals Director of Marketing and Promotions, oversees outside marketing and in-stadium entertainment. It would not be an overstatement to say that Berry and Martin control the image, the access, and the entire presentation of the Washington Nationals. From the fans to the media, the imprint that this baseball team makes is in the hands of these two young African American women.

The article provides a fascinating read, by the way. Both Berry (NFLPA) and Martin (NBA) have previously been employed in connection with major professional sports leagues. Both sound young, energetic, and committed to making the Nats attractive to all sectors of the region---and, of course, to the region as a whole.

I just hope they're not the ones behind "Let Yourself Go!"

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