Thursday, February 28
Is Jesse Jackson a rebel for every cause?

From civil rights leader to presidential wannabe, the Rev. Jesse Jackson has been the country's most visible and vocal leader in the black community for more than three decades. He commands media attention at the mere mention of his name and corporate giants often yield to his criticisms.

But when Jackson has attempted to flex his political muscle in the sports arena through his Rainbow Sports organization, it seems his influence has lacked the same weighty punch.

Over the years, Jackson has pressured the nation's colleges and NFL teams to hire black football coaches, yet today only four oversee Division I-A college programs and presently just two are head coaches in the NFL. "There is one standard for choosing coaches in the National Football League and another standard for choosing players," he said in the days leading up to Super Bowl XXXIII in Atlanta. But are his words still heard today?

It has been 55 years since Jackie Robinson broke baseball's color barrier, but in Major League Baseball today, there is only one black general manager -- the White Sox's Ken Williams -- and only six teams have minority managers in a sport in which more than half its players are minorities. And if Donald Watkins is successful in his pursuit of becoming the new owner of the Minnesota Twins, he would become the first African-American to have a controlling interest in a MLB team.

So is the glass half full or half empty? Has Jackson met his match in the sports arena? Or does this battle look more like a 162-game baseball season in which Jackson hopes to win more than he loses over the long haul?

No matter how it is looked upon, Jackson is engaged in a daunting task, but nonetheless a task he has freely chosen to tackle.

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