The State of Black Athletes

I know this topic always causes debate among black folk: What is the role of the black athlete? Are they giving back to the very same communities they were raised in?  Do they speak out on political and social issues that plague people of color?

I ran across this article in the Post  and it is worth discussing.  Michelle Singletary is a Washington Post financial columnist who recently profiled a book written by Sportswriter William C. Rhoden.  The title of his book is “Forty Million Dollar Slaves: The Rise, Fall, and Redemption of the Black Athlete. 

In his book he makes some very blunt accusations and opinions that most black athletes, are not politically or socially active and are no better then the corporate sponsors who pinch every inch of profit they can. 

So to answer the questions guiding this topic; even though it is not their job to speak out on social issues, I feel that they have an obligation to give back to their communities.  All of us who have accomplished great things, did not obtain them on our own.  Most of our black athletes came from broken homes and poor neighborhoods.  I am sure many people attempted to help them along the way. 

People like Etan Thomas should be applauded because he is socially and politically active and doesn’t care about loosing commercial contracts for speaking out on the war and other social issues that plague people of color.  All athletes need to use him as an example.  

Marbury Shoe Line Gaining Steam

Hats off to Marbury!!  Finally an athlete who understands his unique position and what he has decided to do: which is to make affordable products to people who can’t afford $200 pair of shoes; He is not trying to line his pockets.

Black high School Athletes:  Are we sending the Right Message?

As I was watching ESPN I could not believe what I was seeing.  I thought I was watching a professional league draft press conference.  It turned out to be ESPN’s high school draft show.

What is really the purpose of college?  To pursue higher education, in order to become a more well rounded person.  College sports has taken on a whole new meaning and level. 

One local brother, Marvin Austin  has decided to attend UNC on a football scholarship.  Marvin Austin attends Ballou high School and lives in South East.  He is the first member of his family to attend college.  At the press conference he wore a black pinstripe suit with diamond earrings in his ear.  He was blinged out.  As happy as I am for the brother and his accomplishments, I have to be critical.

 This was not an NFL or NBA draft session, this was for college.  He is a high school senior who has just accepted a scholarship to attend college.  College is a place for learning and education, not to groom people to be drafted into professional sports.  The statistics are low for the number of college athletes who actually get drafted into professional sports.  I hope that since Marvin is the first in his family to attend college, that he will also be the first person in his family to graduate with a degree.  I pray that his family encourages him to stay in college. 

I know some will argue, that since Universities make millions off of college athletes that they deserve to get paid as well, but it is so much bigger then getting paid.  We need to encourage more of out black youth of the importance of college and education.


2 Responses

  1. This is what one of my boys had to say about it:

    For a black males perspective, I agree that professional athletes have MORE influence on our culture than clergy, politians, and some hip-hop stars. Growing up, it would have made a tremendous impact to see someone like Jordan stand up for causes that affect our community but we all know that because of many of their upbringing, they are only thinking about making money. I also think it’s difficult for these athletes because not only are they paid by the white owners BUT the majority of the ticket buyers are white. This means if they make a public statement that the majority race disagree with, they (and the companies that sponsor them) will lose money.

    The athlete’s voice can be as strong as groups such as the right-wing Christian Coalition, or some of those other groups. These groups rally together and FORCE the government to address their issues. If the majority of the people affected by Hurricane Katrina were white southern men, those groups (usually led by someone of stature) would have FORCED the administration to correct this.

    This is another tough one.

    It could be that the athlete really don’t understand the importance of social issues. We now live in a “get mine” society (that goes for athletes and regular citizens).

    On another note, I believe the New Orleans Saints winning this year was the WORSE thing that could have happened for those residents. Many establishments viewed that as “everything is alright now.” In reality the majority of season ticket buyers were people not affected by the flood/storm. To me, the athletes and organization should have been stressing ALL YEAR LONG (EVERY CHANCE THEY GOT) that the area needed help. Sadly, the conversation turn from disaster to TOUCHDOWNS.

  2. Here is a comment from another friend:

    This article I must say is very controversial. I would totally agree that athelete’s are the most infuential people on this planet. Every kid want’s to be Jordan, Kobe, and Iverson. I do think that most athlete’s could be doing a lot more with there money. However, we are living in a capitalist society. It makes me mad when I see these sports stars doing dumb stuff with the money……….let’s keep it real. However, I think it does take more than money to make things happen when giving back to the community. I think that is unfair to put that much responsibility on these stars. What about this great democratic society that we believe in? Hell, we should be asking them and not the athletes. My point is that we have to point the finger at each other. We are to blame just as much as they are. The only thing that is stopping us is the millions, but that does not have to dictate how we contribute. What’s stopping us to do the same.

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