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The Mis-Education of The Black Athlete

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It’s that time of the year again, college graduation season. This is the time after four long years (five for some, shout out to the Super Seniors), when students are getting prepared to walk across the stage and make their family proud. When it comes to a large percentage of black athletes this day will never happen. They have been advised to make that jump from college to the pros early; due to “how high” they can go in the draft, and how much money they can make. A lot of these students take the jump, and unfortunately a lot has to do with their living situation.

Statistics from predominately white schools have reported close to 70% of white athletes graduate, compared to the 20% of black athletes who achieve commencement. It seems Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU’s) are left off this list where the majority of their athletes do graduate. When you have a Black athlete who is interested in pursuing a degree, a lot of times he is discouraged from staying his senior year. So they take the money and leave. There are some who decide to finish school. I’m sure a lot of us remember Vince Carter, then with the Toronto Raptors, going to his graduation and being ridiculed for it because he had a playoff game. Playoffs? Playoffs? True, the Raptors lost the game, but isn’t basketball a team sport? Maybe, he had an off game (a la LeBron…*ducks from Nikes being thrown by Cleveland Cavaliers Fans*).

Basketball Hall of Famer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar recently suggested that in order to earn an NBA paycheck the required age must be 21. If they aren’t educated about business, etc., will it really help? You see the stories of the bankrupt athlete, but is it their age to blame? Is it their agents? Is it their lack of education? Or is it their upbringing? I think it could be slightly all of the above, mixed in with the strong attraction of fame. What I always see is that it’s always focused on the black athlete, when you also have white athletes who leave school early, mismanage money and have children out of wedlock. So how about we put the focus on the broader picture? The bottom line is it’s about the money, as long as there’s plenty to be made, education will fall in the background. I say this about not only the black athletes, but about any athlete. Yes you have the talent, yes you have the money, but don’t let society “play” you for a dummy (I did not mean to rhyme LOL). Get that paper…not just the green.

“A well-informed mind is the best security against the contagion of folly and of vice. The vacant mind is ever on the watch for relief, and ready to plunge into error, to escape from the languor of idleness.” -Ann Radcliffe

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