For about two years there has been talk of the formation of a Sports Task Force. I first sent an email asking for such a group to the staff of Mayor Ron Dellums during the first two months of his administration but did not receive feedback. Then I twice talked to the Mayor about brieking him regarding what happened to Oakland's Super Bowl Bid and the Oakland Sports Commission I established in 1998.
The Mayor said he would get back to me on the matter, er, have his secretary call me, but never did that, so I had lost any faith in his interest in solving Oakland's long-standing sports industry problems.
Then I was approached by Steve Lowe and Chris DeBenadetti, both who have been active in Oakland politics and sports journalism respectively. We talked about such a task force with a member of the Mayor's Staff over a year ago. Then we waited, but to Lowe's credit he pushed for it constantly.
Now it's formed.
The first meeting was Thursday of two weeks ago, and during a week which saw me dealing with matters of business, death, and family so I did not attend it. Not that I'm not willing to help. We have a legion of problems.
The first problem is that Oakland does not see it's sports industry as just that. We need to answer the following questions before we decide what to do:
1. What does the industry consist of in Oakland?
2. How many people are employed in the industry?
3. What are the strengths of and threats to the industry?
4. How can we best emphasize the strengths and combat the threats?
5. What resources are available.
Those are the bottom line questions. They also apply for the entertainment industry. I also favor this approach because I'm afraid that the task force could degenerate into over-policized anti-intellectual talk and backstabbing. We need to have an academic approach to be of any real value.
We also need to have the Mayor drop in once in a while. And on that note, the Oakland City Council needs to get over the power-trip idea that every sports issue calls for money from the City of Oakland. That's not true. And it's a good idea why the task force needs to start with the questions I posed above so that we can better understand how to deal with what's ahead of us as a city.
It's a good start and while it's a bit late it's necessary. We have a lot of challenges to tackle.
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