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Panel at the 2022 Hispanic Leadership Summit.
Latino representatives in the U.S. sports industry. Photo: @WAAH_Foundation.

Sports as an engine for Hispanic inclusion

A talk about how sports should work as a platform to generate greater inclusion took place at the 2022 Hispanic Leadership Summit.

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During the final session of the 2022 Hispanic Leadership Summit, a diverse panel made up of Latino leaders who stand out as executives in various teams from the different sports leagues and associated corporations in the United States, highlighted the way in which sports have allowed them to achieve their dreams, pointing out the strategy used by this type of shows to get closer to the Hispanic public.

Especially highlighting the industry's ability to ignite fan passion and lift community spirits, "Journey of Diversity in Sports & Entertainment" offered attendees a different look at leveraging leadership in sports to strengthen diversity in the country.

The panel, made up of Omar Minaya, a former player and MLB executive; Iris Diaz, Chief Marketing Officer of the Dallas Mavericks; Gersson Rosas, senior basketball advisor for the New York Knicks; and Alex Martínez, representing Nike, reflected two of the characteristics that both, sports and Latinos, have: Passion and joy.

Omar Minaya at the 2022 Hispanic Leadership Summit. Photo: Screen Capture.
Omar Minaya at the 2022 Hispanic Leadership Summit. Photo: Screen Capture.

Minaya stated:

It is in the fabric of our community, in the blood. Sports have been a vehicle for us, a vehicle for the future, for the positive we have.

The Value of the Latino Market

Especially highlighting the fidelity and loyalty of Latino fans, for almost all sports, around which they have found spaces to integrate into American culture and demonstrate their support for these symbols of unity, the teams of the different leagues have been working to raise the ability to include their messages and make them more attractive and culturally relevant among an increasingly large and influential community.

“Representation matters,” Rosas said, noting that what he likes most about sports is the passion you have to bring, even when you're not good at it. The senior adviser, who has worked in different organizations within the NBA, pointed out that only sports, in this case basketball, are an excellent medium to applaud and empower diversity, especially at this time when the league has players from all over the world.

Gersson Rosas at the 2022 Hispanic Leadership Summit. Photo: Screen Capture.
Gersson Rosas at the 2022 Hispanic Leadership Summit. Photo: Screen Capture.

“This is an exciting time for Latinos in sports. Not only in the field. There is a significant increase in Latinos in executive positions,” said Rosas.

What are Teams Doing to Reach Hispanics?

Taking advantage of the emotional charge that a sporting event implies, sports teams and brands have gone from sending generalized messages to their fans, to presenting proposals that focus on each specific community, appealing to their customs to make them feel part of the family.

“We can use sports as a way to unite. Sports can change hearts and minds. It is a platform that we can take advantage of,” highlighted Martínez.

Alex Martínez at the 2022 Hispanic Leadership Summit. Photo: Screen Capture.
Alex Martínez at the 2022 Hispanic Leadership Summit. Photo: Screen Capture.

Among the actions that these organizations are carrying out, the following stand out:

  • The Dallas Mavericks, who have the first Latino CMO in their history, are creating original campaigns exclusively to attract Latino fans.
  • Nike, in association with Serena Williams, created the "Serena Williams Design Crew" initiative, with which they offer a 9-month training program for Latino and African-American designers, some of whom have become full-time designers for the company.
  • The NBA, for its part, introduced “Border Programs,” an event the organization holds each summer in which they travel to remote locations to give new players, coaches and referees the opportunity to learn and get exposure.

The convening power of sports is a force that must be used to offer inclusion, as well as to exploit markets, such as Latinos, eager to make their economic contributions to the organizations, whether through the purchase of a ticket, the execution of a sponsorship, or even acquiring shares.

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