Posts Tagged ‘collegiate sports’

We have a new kind of slave in America today. In reality, they are still beaten and bear the scars of their enslavement. They are paid slave wages in exchange for what we are calling an education…which they don’t really get because their masters have them on a particularly short leash, and when the ‘massa’ calls, they damn well better jump. Who are these modern-day slaves, you ask? They are Black collegiate athletes who are preyed upon by the likes of too many Division One recruiters, coaches and athletic directors.

In a recent study by The Center for the Study of Race and Equality in Education at the University of Pennsylvania, it was stated that, “The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) noted in a recent television commercial that Black male student-athletes are ten percent more likely to graduate than are their same-race male peers who are not members of intercollegiate sports teams.” However, “This is not true across the six major NCAA Division I conferences whose member institutions routinely win football and basketball championships, play in multimillion-dollar bowl games and the annual basketball championship tournament, and produce the largest share of Heisman trophy winners. “

For Black kids, one of the few ways to improve themselves and their families’ economic status is to play sports to the extent that they can receive a scholarship to college and go on to become a professional athlete. The best road for doing that is to play collegiately at the Division one level and to tout their wares on the gridiron, basketball court, or baseball diamond. With luck, much, much luck, they will have an opportunity to become professional athletes…somewhere in the world. While not broken down by race, an article from the Business Insider in 2012, noted that only 11.6 percent of collegiate baseball players went into the major leagues. It’s worse for other collegiate sports. For example, of the nearly 68,000 college football players, only 1.7 percent are drafted; and a mere 1.3 percent of NCAA hockey players make it to the NHL. Of the over seventeen thousand college basketball players, the percentage drafted is 1.2. These figures are pathetic when one considers that playing sports at the D1 level becomes more important than education at the D1 level. Colleges spend millions of dollars recruiting high school men and women to come play for the “good ole U.” The University of Tennessee, for example, spends over two and a quarter million dollars to recruit. Auburn and Notre Dame are also in the two million dollar club. Million dollar recruiting schools include Texas Tech, Kentucky, Alabama, Georgia, Nebraska, Oregon, and several others.

Let us, however, get back to the plight of the Black collegiate athlete.  The University of Pennsylvania study found that, “Across the four cohorts (consecutive years) studied, only 50.2 percent of Black male student-athletes graduated within six years, compared to 66.9 percent of student-athletes overall, 72.8 percent of undergraduate students overall, and 55.5 percent of Black undergraduate men overall. The study found that 96.1 percent of the NCAA Division I schools graduated Black male student-athletes at rates lower than student-athletes overall and that a whopping 97.4 percent of the institutions graduated Black male student-athletes at rates lower than undergraduate students overall.” Let us look at one school as an example: The University of Miami’s undergraduate population of Black students is 3.3 percent, yet its football and basketball teams are 75.7 percent. The graduation rate for Black male athletes is 66 percent as compared to 78 percent – pretty miserable – for all undergraduates. At Boston College, another ACC team, the overall rate of graduation rate for undergrads is 91 percent; for Black male athletes, it’s 68 percent.

No matter what statistics are thrown around, the Black male athlete appears to me to be little more than chattel, just as the Black slaves were way back when. Compare graduation rates; compare the number of collegiate athletes who go on to play professional sports; compare the percentages of overall Black undergraduate population to the percentage that compete in the arena, and one has to ask the question, “Are these kids being treated fairly?” Some might answer by saying that it’s the only way a Black kid could get to college. What does that mean? Does it mean that the secondary schools attended by Black kids don’t prepare them for entry? Others put it more crudely by saying the Black kids’ value sports more than they value education. Well now, who puts those values into their heads; where do they acquire those values? It’s that type of ignorance that has to be addressed.

I enjoy watching college football, and I enjoy college basketball. When I watch some offensive or defensive coach berating these young men on a Saturday afternoon, screaming so hard that the veins in his temple are pulsating, I get pissed. Yell at them for what they did wrong, fine, but don’t go apoplectic on them. Don’t get caught on camera shoving them or slapping them across the helmet while you’re spitting venom into their face masks. Sure it’s your job to point out their mistakes; of course, it requires that you demonstrate just how upset you are, but you’re missing one point…these are supposed to be student athletes. If you want to treat them like shit, pay them; pay them and don’t call them students. You don’t care if they go to class as long as the grades they get allow them to play for you. Let’s take the phoniness out of collegiate sports as far as the Black athlete is concerned. Pay them for playing for four years. After that, pay for them to attend a junior college for two years, and if they are successful, pay for them to go on, but don’t give me this bullshit of calling them a “student/athlete.” Study after study has shown how the Black male athletes are used and tossed aside. It’s time for it to stop. Black parents have to instill in their children a different set of values. Education will get you where you really want to go. Athletics is a gamble with very, very long odds against success.

Anyone who believes that slavery is a thing of the past hasn’t watched D! collegiate football or basketball lately.


Read Full Post »