Written by MG
Est. reading time: 5 minutes; Contains 1155 words
Every year all across the nation we watch black men rule the professional sports scene. Every important sport, every season, every team. From league sponsorship and ad revenue, international sales, down to specific team strategy, there is one common symbol when you think of sports in America. THE BLACK MAN RULES.
When you reach the highest levels, color no longer matters, but there is a reason the most physical positions on the sports playing field are saturated with black athletes.
Poll any black neighborhood and 9 out of 10 boys look up to sports figures and hope to become one. This also plays a role in why we dominate the professional sports population. It can be one of the few options coming from a poor area, an option with a huge upside.
So we celebrate the ones who have made it. Wear their jersey’s, watch them on television, study their profile’s. Dreams accomplished. But what about the rest of us? We all loved sports growing up, and still do. It’s who we are. It’s who I am. Recovering sports addicts.
The climate of sports has changed since Ray Rice. TMZ has been invited to the party. Social networks are fully integrated into every gaming experience. Sports, in general, are not the exclusive man’s clubs they used to be.
This is what first started to drive me away from using up every ounce of my free time, consuming sports. Some of my earliest memories are sitting on a small chair in a dark room watching Laker games. Fast forward to High School and it was 24/7 sports consumption for me. And everyone I rolled with. I had hoop dreams. Wanted to play on the big stage. Put all my eggs in one basket. Therein lies the issue with black men. We become sports and nothing else. Nothing realistic that can help us build our individual empires.
As we travel along through our youth, a black child on the sports path is praised. It can help keep us off the streets and out of trouble. Sports can provide some much-needed structure, discipline, even guidance with the proper adults in place. Build a young man’s confidence, toughness, give him a backbone. Respect. No matter how good you are, you will always run into someone better. Be humbled.
So we nurture our young athletes. We tell them to watch the game tonight on T.V. to see how the pros do it. Sign them up for summer camps, hone in on your raw talent, refine those skills. Make that dream seem a bit more realistic when it all comes together after that first growth spurt. Start catching touchdowns and now the city knows your name.
The statistics, however, bring some dark clouds to those dreams. I’m not a numbers guy, so let’s just say, you won’t make it. Neither will your kids. The one thing I never heard growing up was, “why do I limit myself to just sports”? I never had a backup plan, and the ones I pretended to have, never received any real attention. The stories about the superstar running around mama’s living room at 3 years old holding a football are legendary. The millions of others born in the same year who had the same hopes that crashed and burned are a reality. Repeat every year.
“I strongly believe the black culture spends too much time, energy and effort raising, praising, and teasing our black children about the dubious glories of professional sports.” – Arthur Ashe
We box ourselves in. No one ever asked me what I liked outside of sports because my life fit the script. Why question a 15-year-old black kid reading the sports page of the newspaper in math class? We get released into the world as young adults. Physical specimens, no field to play on. As our twenties pass by, we can be found chasing women, and figuring out where to watch the game. Then the age of 30 hits, the first time our youth seems to truly be coming to an end. Where are the riches we have been lazily chasing with no plan or tools? Those riches are nowhere in sight, and we have no answers. It’s the 4th quarter of a tight game, and we are busy complaining to the refs.
Things like law, financial literacy, and entrepreneurship, are passed over to be fanatics and memorize enough stats to win a “which team is better” debate. Balance, as with everything, is all that is needed. Sports can be a tool for us, a very important one. Working in a team environment is an important aspect of succeeding in the world. I believe grooming children to make the big leagues is a very dangerous and lazy strategy, and all too common. The goal should be helping our kids use sports to receive free rides to universities to study their other areas of interest in a focused way. Develop well-rounded skill sets. Stepping into the world at the age of 21 with a bachelor’s degree and no debt would be an advantage usually reserved for wealthy families. These large universities profit millions off the backs of athletes who most likely will never see a dollar of professional money, so let’s use them accordingly.
We need that “dominate the game” mentality to carry over to the rest of our existence. A bunch of captains on the field, yet in life we settle for punching the clock, asking the boss when we can eat our lunch. Black people consume the most media as a whole, and for the men that means sports. Essentially, cheerleading the teams we love, never being involved in life games of our own that actually matter.
What I used to love about sports was, coaches never accept excuses. Life is the same way. Run the play correctly and more often than not the results will show. We must broaden our horizons. Set these kids free, let them know how big the world is. Your son can download a game on his tablet. Great! But can you teach him to code the games? Bring him under the hood with you when the car breaks down, under the sink when there is a leak. Open up that newspaper and learn how to profit off an oil crisis.
We have built in inherent advantages in this world. Physical superiority. If we were to truly get our act together, no other race would sniff the professional sports we choose to occupy. The irony is, if we were to get our act together, we wouldn’t produce as many athletes. Our goals would be too high in this world to settle for shooting baskets. Intellectual superiority.
In the end, whatever you choose, carry the mentality you learn on the field with you. There shouldn’t be anyone who thinks you got to where you are as a 2nd option, due to a failed sports career. If there are, offer them a job, Boss.