When Magic Johnson and a group of fellow investors plunked down $2.15 billion to purchase the Los Angeles Dodgers, the deal was the largest amount ever paid for a sports franchise.
But Johnson’s involvement in the deal could possibly mean more than just the further diversification of the former NBA great’s business portfolio.
Johnson, who has already become the face of the organization, also has an opportunity to lend his star power to baseball, perhaps spurring the increased participation of African-American players and fans.
Johnson has a stake in a sport in which the number of black players and fans has been its lowest numbers in several decades.
Sixty-five years after Jackie Robinson integrated baseball wearing a Dodgers uniform, African-Americans and baseball have an estranged relationship. For example, the percentage of African-Americans on Opening Day rosters has dropped from 18 percent of players in 1991 to 8.5 percent last year.
In addition, only nine percent of fans who attended a major league game last season were African-American, reported a Scarborough Research study. Meanwhile, only six percent of African-Americans consider baseball to be their favorite sport, according to a separate Harris Poll.