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Reporter's notebook: Behind the scenes of the game-changing Equity League initiative

Posted at 5:14 AM, Dec 15, 2020

MILWAUKEE — “I need to interview the President of Microsoft, and the Presidents of the Packers, Brewers, and Bucks… all at the same time,” I told my News Director.

The opportunity presented itself a couple of weeks ago to potentially break this huge story about all three of our major sports teams collaborating on a new initiative. It’s grounded in the social justice movement. In addition, they’ve got Microsoft on board, as the Packers are already engaged with the global giant in the TitletownTech project. The President of Microsoft, Brad Smith, is an Appleton native.

One of the reasons I haven’t slept much the last few days is because this is like a whole bunch of amazing stories all in this one interview.

First, there’s the Equity League initiative. It will be a partnership that aims to invest in minority start-ups and entrepreneurs. It will seek out and fund business plans primarily in the African American and LatinX communities.

There’s the why and the how behind this with Microsoft.

There’s the why and the how behind this with the Packers.

There’s the why and the how behind this with the Brewers.

There’s the why and the how behind this with the Bucks.

Then, there’s the fact that I’ve got Mark Murphy of the Green Bay Packers, Peter Feigin of the Milwaukee Bucks, and Rick Schlesinger of the Milwaukee Brewers, all on the line, with a chance to get into what went down in their locker rooms this summer.

I had a ton of new information about the Bucks not taking the floor for their playoff game, and how they were communicating with other players on the Brewers and Packers. It was news to me as well, that the team presidents joined the GM’s and coaches in a conference call shortly after, to talk about what was happening, and how they could support their players.

Milwaukee Business Journal's Mark Kass discuss new social justice effort collab with sports team

It’s a lot to try to cut down and throw into a couple of television stories. So I’ve written an extensive article that goes deeper even than my TV stories, which are also posted here.

We’ve also decided to include the full, unedited interview with the team presidents, Smith of Microsoft, as well as Israel Squires and Cordero Barkley. The latter two gentlemen are actually leading Equity League, and explain in greater detail how it will work and why it matters.

We spoke for about a half-hour Saturday morning. The four most difficult things about this:

1. Calendar coordination: that’s a lot of important people we had to get on the same page.

2. The technical: how do we try to show all the principals in a large monitor format, so we had more than the Microsoft Teams Recording.

3. Now that I’ve got all this good stuff, how do we break it up into television stories and share it with our viewers.

4. Keeping a tight circle. My deal in getting to break this story was to wait until Tuesday morning when their team was ready to launch. I had to get a lot of people on board, without sharing too much information.

We’re not done. More to come on this as new information develops and hopefully new businesses and dreams succeed.

Watch the full interview below:

The Equity League full interview: Wisconsin's top sports teams form social justice effort together

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