Fielding a Team for the Fans: The Societal Consequences and Title VII Implications of Race-Considered Roster Construction in Professional Sport


Part I examines Title VII, its history, and the prospect of its application in the race-considered roster construction context. Part II engages the phenomenon of race-considered roster construction and explores its persistence in the post-civil rights era, primarily through historical examination of Major League Baseball’s Boston Red Sox and the National Basketball Association’s Boston Celtics, two professional sports organizations for years associated with racially imbalanced rosters. This part also explores the consequences unique to employment discrimination in the race-considered roster construction context. Part III examines the applicability of Title VII doctrine to race-considered roster construction, exploring the factors involved in establishing liability as well as the means by which a professional sports organization might seek to defend against a Title VII action. Part IV explores race-considered roster construction favoring non-white players, rather than white players, through examining the construction of the 2005 New York Mets. This part analyzes the extent to which Title VII applies differently to such roster construction, the role of affirmative action in that application, and whether such roster construction, even if deemed lawful, risks generating the negative societal consequences traditionally associated with race-considered roster construction favoring white players. Finally, Part V encourages sustained Title VII scrutiny of professional sports organizations’ personnel decisions to reduce the incidence of unlawful race-considered roster construction and, thus, eliminate the negative societal consequences it breeds.


Professional athletes, Race discrimination, Employment discrimination, Civil Rights Act of 1964



N. Jeremi Duru (Temple University)



Publication details



All rights reserved

Peer Review

This article has not been peer reviewed.

File Checksums (MD5)

  • pdf: 42c92d44d5eeec70e1b2cd8fd8450f5a