Friday, November 17, 2006

Once upon a time there was a Porch Monkey

If you know me you perfectly understand that I have recently become a football watching fan. In the past I definitely enjoyed watching the phenomenal athleticism that’s displayed on Thursday, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday. I even enjoy Friday night football. The high schoolers are a treat to watch also. You would think I am overloaded with football, but I am not. I still have time to tend to my son and write commentaries. Nothing will change that. However, what has changed is my attitude concerning the commercialization of football and one educational disparity between the athletes.

At one point in my life I was okay with the hype that infiltrates college campuses and cities that have professional football teams. The excitement is intoxicating! The tailgating, gatherings at team fanatics’ homes, and the packed sports bars are enough to literally change a city for a day. The athletic event brings people together for three hours. The world’s problems are suspended in time for a brief moment. We become one. One in attitude and behavior. We are die hard fans who wants the Dolphins to whip-up on the Ravens. While we are celebrating, eating, betting, and drinking, someone out there is making MILLIONS of dollars at the expense of us and the stallions on the field. Someone is adding to their net worth while we bounce around declaring “The Steelers is MY team.”

Now, don’t let me steal your joy. Continue to be a fan. I will! The College Bowl Series is coming up and the Super Bowl is around the corner in Miami! But, I plan to re-incorporate a few facts back into my thinking process. I have allowed my mind to be clouded with Plaxico Burress’s one handed catches for far too long.

There is one major reason why I wrote this piece: an alarming study that was just shared with me. The study reinforced elements surrounding education and sports I already knew. Nonetheless, they are worth sharing. Hopefully, we will be reminded of the statistics as we jump with felicity while Reggie Bush dives into the end zone from the five yard line.

*The study shows that 72 percent of the white players who signed with the University of Georgia between 1996-1999 earned their diploma within six years, compared with just 24 percent of black athletes.

*There was a similar disparity at Georgia Tech, where white football players had a 72 percent graduation success rate. Blacks were at 41 percent.

Where should we attribute the blame? The black athlete, the black parents, or the schools? Of course there is a reason for the statistics. To help you understand the magnitude of the percentages and in an effort to share a redeeming story that can be shared with young black youth give me five more minutes of your time.

Once upon a time an 18yr old black man decided to go to a small predominantly white college to run track. He was recruited to run track, not to get an education. Getting an education was the last thing on his mind because he wanted to run track, not study. He wanted to share his dynamic jumping ability and speed by hurdling over a 42 inch high barrier. He was to be a hurdler, not a student. After only receiving a combined SAT score of 550; after his second semester of running track as a red shirt freshman; and after earning a 0.8 GPA at the close of that semester he began to rethink his purpose for going to college. He went to run track, not to be a student. Remember? After this horrible academic year he decided to buckle down and not embarrass his high school teachers any longer. He became a student, and not a black jock. He stayed at the same college. By the end of his five years at the white school he was a scholar athlete who graduated with a 3.4 grade point average. He became a leader on campus. He also completed an impressive track and field career. He became a 5 time all American athlete. This black man is yours truly.

I don’t share this story to be egotistical. I am sharing it because it is my “testimony”. In church we are told, “A testimony can save a life”. It is my sincere hope that this story will be shared with more black kids. They need to know that education is our most precious asset. Running up and down a field is fine. Black football players have made millions, and some have put some of the money made back into something good. There are countless examples. However, we (black folk) are still lacking in the most important area of life: Education. Jesus, Cadillac’s, and overpriced homes with cheap carpet will not save us. Some meaningful form of education is our gateway to a better life. If only we valued education like the Chinese. If only we yearned to learn the complexities of algebra and geometry. If only we stop depending on schools “to graduate” our black men. If only we were prepared to die for what our ancestors died for us to have:
An Education.

Shouldn’t the purpose be to graduate your self?

Written by Muata. Inspired by that young black boy who is encouraged to read instead of being trained to be a Porch Monkey.


Muata said...

Reader Response:

It’s amazing to me that we really expect the schools to care about us? Does the person that sent you this article think they care about the white athletes more? Do people actually think that an institution that charges tuition to attend actually gives a damn about any of its students? If so, these assumptions are ridiculous.

The school cannot graduate players. The players have a responsibility to graduate. Football players have a harder time graduating because it’s almost impossible to take 15 credits in a semester during the season. However, athletes can take classes in the summer if they choose. There are black athletes that graduate early. Some even graduate and have to take graduate courses because the NCAA won’t allow you to just hang around and play if you have enough credits to graduate. I think it’s safe to say that the parents and families of these students are failing them. UGA and Tech are not unlike any other institution. They want to win. There are hundreds of thousands of Alumni that wear their colors on Saturday and want their team to win. Yes, the schools make millions off of these football games. However, the athletes that attend do have a great chance at going pro and making millions and even greater opportunity to have a degree from one of the best schools in the country.

THESE GUYS NEEED TO STOP TRYING TO SLEEP WITH GIRLS AND HIT THE BOOKS. I have been around it all of my life and I currently work with an agent and I see first hand why the black athletes don’t graduate. Many of them don’t even care to. Many of the white players attend classes and take advantage of their opportunity. Where many of the black players are waiting to go pro.

Don’t you find it interesting how poor everyone’s family gets when they leave early and enter the draft? Most of them have been poor for years and an extra year will not hurt them.

I also blame the NCAA for not making the universities accountable for their athlete’s admissions standards. The truth is that many of the players would not even be able to be admitted to the schools they play for if they were not playing a sport.

Sports programs in college are not just about amateur athletics. It’s about winning and money. We should never expect the schools to care. It’s up to us to make sure our kids graduate and work the system that is working them.

-Larikus Scott

Muata said...

Reader Responses:

As for being a football fan and seeing what you are talking about, I feel ya!


My heart stopped and my smile enlarged with happiness, to read you testimony. You never shared that before. Thanks for letting us into your personal life.

I preach to my daughter day in and day out about studying and making certain that she stays focus on education, not just dance. I have always told her that I don't care for average and typical. I stress to her the pros and cons of education and being a production, successful individual in this life time.
Peace, always to you my brother.


I want you to know that you are an inspiration to someone. I am sure of that!!