Activists in Seattle gathered Monday to protest tech billionaire and Seahawks owner Paul Allen’s campaign donation to Republican candidates and called for the NFL to deposit a portion of its dollars into black-owned banks.
The Microsoft co-founder donated $100,000 to the National Republican Campaign Committee and Great America Committee, a PAC created by Vice President Mike Pence, the largest check Allen has sent to a federal political candidate or committee, according to a review of Federal Election Commission filings.
“I have been out here protesting the economic injustices that have occurred in professional sports and to add insult to injury the owner of the Seattle Seahawks and Portland Trailblazers, Paul Allen donated $100,000 to the Republican party,” said community activist Eddie Rye Jr to Seattle Medium. “What that really says to the Black players is Paul Allen is taking away or supporting people who are taking away your voting rights and your civil rights.”
Leaders are advocating for equality between professional sports and the Black community. This comes at a time when prominent sports figures such as Colin Kaepernick and Miami Dolphins player Kenny Stills are using their platforms to call attention to issues like police brutality.
While Black tech workers make up approximately 8 percent of the industry, Black athletes are overrepresented across professional sports. The NFL is roughly 70 percent black, and the NBA is 75 percent, according to The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sports.
Allen, who bought the bought the Seahawks in 1997 for just $194 million, is one the NFL’s wealthiest owners,. His worth of nearly $19 billion makes him the 40th richest man in the world.
Rye notes that while professional sports are lucrative, the Black community does not reap the economic benefit from the disparity, according to the Seattle Medium.
A number of retired NFL players are backing the call for the NFL to deposit 10 percent of its annual revenue and one-third of the NFL Players Pension Fund into Black-owned Banks. NFL teams brought in $8 billion in revenue in 2017, despite drops in television ratings.
Former football players James Hastings and Nesby Glasgow, and Fred Anderson, a Super Bowl Champion with the Pittsburgh Steelers, all gathered to in support of the protest and to discuss issues in the Black community.
“When there is an opportunity to financially protest, that’s the way to protest,” said Hastings, a retired 14-year NFL veteran. “I think the only thing that we really stand to gain or to grab anyone’s attention, is going to be through the almighty dollar.”