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Monday, October 08, 2007
More on Knicks, Sanders

I know that some may think that yet another article on the much-discussed verdict in favor of Anucha Brown Sanders against Madison Square Garden is overkill. But today's New York Daily News has a column worth reading.

Titled "How MSG ruined Anucha Browne Sanders' dream," sports columnist Mike Lupica, shows why he is continues to be at the top of his game. Lupica focuses on the Ms. Browne Sanders' dreams of working for MSG, only to have those dreams extinguish in a maze of Animal House antics, back-stabbing executives who she thought were her colleagues (and even friends) who turned their back to curry favor to Garden Boss James Dolan and Knicks Coach/GM Isiah Thomas. It provides a saga of an female executive -- whose resume included stints at Eastman Kodak and IBM -- who entered a never-never land where star players score with female employees in cars fealty is more important than competence (all one has to do is to witness the disintegration of the team over the last five years) and whose top player executive stunned just about everyone here in New York with his deposition comments on why it's not as bad for a black male to call a black woman a "bitch" and a "ho" as a white male.

And the bad news is not over. The $11.6 million award is only for punitive damages. We await the jury's verdict on the compensatory damages.

Because of the case, Lupica notes that Browne Sanders's career in sports marketing was over. "I couldn't even get callbacks from people in [the National Basketball Association]. I had hit a pretty big wall. But I was committed to seeing this through."

Other choice quotes:

Not only did they take my job and my career, they tried to make it my fault, and then destroy my reputation in the process," she said.

"She complained about Isiah Thomas calling her a "bitch" and a "ho" and trying to get her to go "off-site" with him when he couldn't otherwise turn her into the kind of yes-man that everybody else at the Garden, including Dolan, the rich man's son, had become in his presence.

"That was another amazing part of it, listening to their side of things, the way they thought they could convince people that I was the arrogant one," Browne Sanders said, then did something she is able to do now, more easily than at any time over the last couple of years.

"Right," she said. "The woman was the arrogant one here."

She now works at the University of Buffalo as the senior associate athletic director in charge of marketing. The article notes: "It's college," she said. "It's a good, nice, happy environment, something I needed again. It's kids."


One of the things that interests me about the intersection of sports and law is the special attention paid to otherwise-common legal controversies when they arise in the sports context. Then, it is important, when possible, to generalize the legal issues and use the illustrative case to better understand how the law works across the board.

What Brown Sanders has experienced is quite typical of what many women experience in the workplace (especially in historically male-dominated areas) and what happens to them when they complain and seek legal recourse. So while Lupica's column is important to raising our sympathy for Brown Sanders, it also should be important to cause us to understand and change workplace behavior more broadly.

Blogger Howard Wasserman -- 10/09/2007 12:07 AM  

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