Black athletes have been using their platforms to bring attention to issues plaguing the black community for decades. From Muhammad Ali rejecting the draft during the Vietnam War, to John Carlos and Tommie Smith’s black power symbol at the 1968 Olympic games, to Colin Kaepernick taking a knee during the National Anthem. Police brutality and civil injustice have continuously been the forefront of black athlete activism. These recurring issues have resonated deeply with both the general black population and the black athletic population. Giving these athlete’s opportunities to display black pride and the power to reinforce a new sense of community.
Without a doubt that the black community provides black athletes with a large amount of support in the midst of these communal hardships. I strongly believe all black athletes should attend historically black colleges and universities (HBCU’s) to accomplish two goals: advertise the culture and cultivate financial resources. Please don’t take this statement at face value. Black athletes attending HBCU’s is not about being the first in line at the cafe’s soul food Wednesdays or attending the amazing homecoming events. Placing black athletes on teams based at majority black schools helps to directly address the needs of these specific institutions.
Not too long ago, I was a college athlete. Having come from both a small HBCU in Maryland and a private white institution (PWI) in Illinois, I have seen the best and worst of collegiate athletics. During the recruiting process, athletes are attracted to one thing: resources. While on my college visits, you could imagine that I had many conversations with my parents about these resources. While some of these conversations ended in debate and others in agreement, our fascination of these collegiate resources remained the same. The facilities were where I honed in on the most. Somehow, I was always left in awe. My comments were always along the lines of, “Look, they have turf in their weight room” or “Wow, that stadium holds 100,000 fans!” I’m 100% every other college recruit shared these same sentiments. But for college recruits to possess these feelings, they have to be impressed by the resources. How can these schools leave an impression on these college recruits regarding their resources when they lack the money to obtain and maintain them?
What if Florida A&M University or Alcorn State were able to leave an impression on Reggie Bush? Just imagine if Jeffery Okuduh, Trevon Grimes, and J.K Dobbins, whom all be attending The Ohio State University in the fall under Coach Urban Meyers, chose HBCU’s. There’s no secret that these top recruits will go 1st round. If each of them went to an HBCU, their chances of going to a National Championship could do two things. It would give them a chance to publicly take a political stance for the black community and would significantly increase ticket sales and team sponsorships. They would also draw even more attention from NFL scouts towards looking at HBCU’s.
Due to the success of the University of Alabama’s football coach, Nick Saban, he makes more money per year than the school’s dean. On his current roster, which includes various top players from different recruiting classes, there is a total of 115 players on the team. 77 of those 115 players identify as being a part of a minority group. If minorities make up 66% of the team, just how drastically would sports culture be affected if each of them attended an HBCU instead? Would HBCU’s be able to rake in hundreds of thousands of dollars and improve resources? Would the University of Alabama make as much profit from their football team? Would these players have a different sense of self? Would they be able to make a change in both the black community and the sports community? Stay tuned because I’ll be back in a few months to dig deeper on this topic. Happy Black History Month!