On a lit June afternoon, historic Wrigley Field was a suitable backdrop.
Chicago Cubs co-owner Laura Ricketts has a rare position in the men’s professional sports leagues. She is one of the few women currently at the owner level. And Ricketts, as chairman of the board of the Cubs charity, has witnessed how sport can affect communities.
Although he did not grow up pursuing a sports career, Ricketts said he was the best athlete in his family.
“My brothers probably wouldn’t agree with that, but my mother wouldn’t agree. She knows,” Ricketts said in a recent interview with the Tribune, smiling. “That was my thing then.”
Ricketts was born five years after the adoption of Title IX in 1972 and was one of the first girls to benefit from the change, which included sports opportunities. He recalled playing T-ball at the age of 5 and filled his calendar with volleyball, softball, basketball and the track when he reached high school. He has recently started playing tennis with his wife Brooke.
“It’s hard to overestimate how this has affected my life – and to be honest, it made me who I am today,” Ricketts said of the sport. “Sport teaches you to be a teammate, it teaches you to work out, it teaches you to work very hard, it teaches you endurance, it teaches you that there is no shame in failing until you try hard or try something new.
“I know everyone who has been involved in my development and who I am to this day.”
Ricketts is also recognized as the first public gay owner of Major League Baseball. Ricketts, who was out when his family bought Cubs in 2009, admits that breaking down barriers can be burdensome; however, he believes it is an opportunity.
“I may be a weird woman, but I’m a white woman,” Ricketts said, “so imagine you’re a weird brown or black woman, or just imagine you’re a black or brown person with limited opportunities in this country, right?” I don’t know what it feels like to walk in their shoes, but I have an understanding from the beginning what it feels like to be unequal and when I think of someone else, I have that incredible access and incredible privilege.
“It ‘s probably coming out in baseball.
His sports foundation helped Ricketts move into Michigan Law School and eventually as a lawyer in a highly competitive, mostly male environment. Ricketts remembers how women in law formed a study group, encouraged and supported each other. Since then, the dynamics for Ricketts have gone local and national.
In addition to leading Cubs charities and creating youth programs, Ricketts founded LPAC in 2012, the first strange women-centered super-PAC to support and support candidates committed to LGBTQ + and women’s equality and social justice. She is also a member of the LGBTQ + Lambda Legal National Leadership Council for Lambda Legal and EMILY’s List, which works for the election of democratic women.
“I am very aware of the unique position I am in,” Ricketts said. “I’m happy to say it’s not as unique as it was 10 years ago, but for women in professional sports, it still feels like it’s just snagging and it’s so shifting to get more. But it seems to me that we’re slowly gaining momentum. People in these roles and their impact are immeasurable and that is why I feel this responsibility.
A big project awaits Ricketts and the organization through Cubs Charities. They are ready to build a city youth academy to accommodate some of their sports-based youth development programs for boys and girls. The project is expected to be officially announced shortly.
The academy has sports fields, including at least one indoor court, and a community center. It is expected to be built in the Chicago area, which needs investment but is attracting young people from all over the city.
“We really strive to be the best, and for a Cubs charity, it doesn’t just mean how we run our business or our employees,” Ricketts said. “It’s not just to be the best, but to show our impact and set an example for other teams. We want to be the team that other teams look at and say, ‘Let’s talk to the Cubs and see what they did because they’re doing it.’ rightly “in terms of diversity, equality and inclusion.
Ricketts has seen progress in the diversity of Cubs staff, just under 40% of whom are women, noting: “I think we should be 51%. She wants to do more – including working with Major League Baseball to encourage more equality in sport. Ricketts, a mother of three, sees this. as an area in which it can grow due to the visibility of professional sports.
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Behind the scenes, Ricketts has tried to influence change. When the Cubs were looking for a new voice for the Marquee Sports Network last year, Ricketts pushed the network’s top executives to talk to women for the seat. Finally, Beth Mowins was invited to play a handful of games. At Cubs board meetings, Ricketts, who is often the only woman in the room, has made it clear that they have more women and people in these roles.
Ricketts says he needs to ask questions in his job about why women can’t be recruited to stay in or even get into an organization, noting the need for an environment and culture that will help them rise to the top.
“My personal mission and my personal conviction is that we need women in positions of power and leadership. We all need it, not just women, but society, the planet. Ricketts said. “Because if we don’t have women in leadership and power positions in sports, government, politics, education, business, we lose.
“We lose what we can be, what we can achieve individually. We lose what we can achieve. But we all lose what we can become and what we can achieve as a community and society.
Belonging to a family ownership group can bring more individual control, especially when it comes to different policies. Although his immediate family members are particularly Republicans, Ricketts, a member of the executive committee of the National Democratic Party, does not feel he needs to do so at the public level.
However, he feels the need to talk to family members to understand where they are coming from and to let them understand his perspective, “at least how they talk about things and how they look at things, to take that into account, how to see them. things from someone else’s shoes.
“If you have a bigger family of resources and they all do a lot of things, they’re all trying to influence the world in a way that they think is good for everyone,” Ricketts said. “And you have a baseball team together and you have that visibility, the attention between being known for what you do and what you do, and being kind of connected to the family as a whole. I want to be known for what I do. I do what I have achieved.
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