Women's Sport: Meet Michele Roberts, the executive director of the National Basketball Players Association

Behind the scenes of sports around the world, many women are working hard to bring the events to life, to support players and grow their sports. That’s why this month at GiveMeSport Women we are shining a light on some of the amazing women making waves off the field of play.

First up is Michele Roberts, the executive director of the National Basketball Players Association.

What does she do?

Roberts started her career as a lawyer and became the first woman to head up the NBPA, the union for NBA players, in 2014 after previous executive director Billy Hunter was ousted by the players. She is now halfway through her second four-year term in the post.

In her role, Roberts oversees the day-to-day running of the union that represents over 400 basketball players as well as making sure that policies are executed. Her job also involves conducting the collective bargaining agreements with the NBA on behalf of the players.

How has she impacted sport?

As well as making sure that players’ rights are protected and their value is recognised, Roberts has spearheaded an approach that encourages the players to be aware of their power to do good, especially concerning areas such as mental health, political activism and racial injustice.

ESPN reports that in 2017 she co-wrote a letter to the players with NBA commissioner Adam Silver that said: “None of us operates in a vacuum. Critical issues that affect our society also impact you directly. Fortunately, you are not only the world’s greatest basketball players – you have real power to make a difference in the world, and we want you to know that the Players Association and the League are always available to help you figure out the most meaningful way to make that difference.”

Why is she a role model?

As the first woman to take up the post representing some of the biggest sports stars in the world, Roberts is already someone to look up to. Combined with her desire not just to support the players but to see them make a positive difference in society, Roberts shows exactly what we should all be aspiring for – that sport both entertains and leaves the world a better place.

Whoever follows her when her term ends in 2022 will have big shoes to fill. 

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