BLACK MALES AND COLLEGE ATHLETICS

19

BLACKMALES AND COLLEGE ATHLETICS

Inspite of the many problems plaguing college athletics, black maleathletes do benefit from participating in college athletics (mostnotably college football). Visible sports like football andbasketball have seen an ever increasing representation of the blackmales. Even with the increment in the number of black males engagingin college athletics, there are challenges that continue to facethem. Some of the hurdles are attributed to exploitation in the sensethat they are used by their officials to make millions when at theend of the day, they receive no compensation for their effort.Controversies surrounding compensation offered to the athletes andthe payment schemes that can be adopted to benefit the studentathletes are also existent. Asides from the financial aspect of thechallenges that the black males encounter, some of the students donot complete their academic courses. Some of the student athletes donot graduate an occurrence that ought to be a concern to the highereducation policy makers. Surprisingly, amid all these challenges,black male student-athletes still gain. These students gain fromscholarships, an occurrence that has increased the number of blackmale enrollees given that they form the greatest percentage of thebeneficiaries. Some have access to financial aids which is the reasonwhy there is minimum attrition rate attributed to finances in blackmale college athletes. These students also have access to academicsupport which ensures that, at the end of the day, they outperformothers who do not engage in sports. What can be deduced from theabove findings is that, black male student-athletes draw benefitsfrom their indulgent in college sport. This paper will seek to studythe historical perspective of black male athletes and theirengagement in the sport as well as the challenges and the benefitsthat they acquire therein. Possible payment methods that can beadopted by the college officials to reduce some of the paymentcontroversies surrounding the athletes will also be tackled.

Historicalcontext

Pathto the 21stcentury

Theessence of black men in the US has a past that tends to be disturbingand which began since the time of enslaved entry of Africans into thecountry. The sporting world has not been spared in the ‘disturbingpast’ as mentioned earlier. Navigation through history is importantin the study given that historical information regarding a topicprovides the blueprint for comparison with the present and as aresult, uses the findings to prepare a roadmap for shaping the futureif allowed the chance. A similar analogy is critical in the study athand, particularly in the identification of how far the black malestudents’ participation in college sports has come and the practiceas it is today while looking into the future. In the US, the historyof sports participation has been marred by the presence of racialideologies1.Some of the ideologies take note of the fact that people use theirbelief regarding skin color to gauge the athletics potential of anindividual.

Themost current thinking is that, individuals who are dark skinned excelin certain sports because of the natural capabilities that theypossess2.Asides from that, black students have to deal with the condemnationof being considered as intellectually inferior and being oftraditional caricature. The ideology as mentioned earlier has goneahead to shape the current social organization structure. Amid thesocial structures that are today, educational institutions are taskedwith the provision of an ideal environment that would allow allstudents, despite their racial backgrounds, to thrive. Educationalinstitutions have to be at the forefront of ensuring that studentsare matriculated well into higher learning and at the end of theircourses, graduate and thus return to serve the community. On thatnote, the black students plus other students of color have asignificant role to play as they navigate through both academic andsocio-cultural challenges that face them given the long history ofmarginalization that defines what the education system was in thepast and how it is at the moment.

Bluntlystated, the history of the black males in college athletics has beenmarred by racial marginalization. A look at the history of the blacksociety gives an insight on the indulgent of black men in collegiateathletics. The history as aforementioned resulted in the developmentof people who have devalued minds, and who are hopeless. The outcomeof a society whose members feel like their intellectual capacity isdevalued is the onset of a decline in both life chances and choices.The fall in the hope for the black youths has been reflected in thefunctioning of institutions like family, education, politics, churchand the economy. With the decline in optimism among the members ofthe black society, the occurrence that set in is one that ischaracterized by crime, drugs, violence, warfare as well as despair.The decline in hope was quite prevalent in students both middleschool and colleges and the only way that these students vented werethrough expressing their passion by taking part in the athleticfield.

Untilthe period of the 1940s, after the Second World War, there was anoted change in the attitudes of the blacks3.The war saw an increment in the number of organizations that were outto support initiatives that were aimed at redeeming the rights ofAfrican Americans that were deprived of them by the time theReconstruction period was coming to an end. The pressure to treatblack people as equal citizens was extended to the sportingorganizations. Full integration in sport began taking effect in thecolleges and universities4.

Thesporting organizations saw the need for integrating the AfricanAmericans because these organizations noted an increment in theattendance of games which meant that revenue streams in sport throughmediums like the radio and television proved to be promising. Theintegration of black males in college sport picked up quite well inthe 1950s5.Historically Black Colleges were the quintessence of collegefootball. African American players who took part in college footballwere not welcome in the white campuses until the periods between the1950s and the 1960s where the ‘white rule only’ exception wasslowly loosening up6.However, despite the attempt to garner full integration of the blackmales in college athletics, challenges still existed where the blackyouths were given caution against transgressing social barriers.These athletes were further tasked by their coaches with theresponsibilities of better performances while at the same time,leading an exemplary lifestyle. These youths were also advised tomaintain passiveness in the face of racial insults that were thrownat them as well as avoiding dating white women. The black youths tookheed to the pieces of advice that were presented to them up to the1960s when multiple transformations in the quest for desegregationwere taking effect7.In the change period, the southern universities that had the mostracist sports teams found themselves on the losing ends when theybattled out in the field with teams that embraced racialintegration8.

Inthe period after 1968, the integration of black youths in collegesport proceeded hand in hand with the assertiveness of the blacksthat was present in the US9.As much as the ranking of black athletes in college sport is not wellstudied, it is clear that all colleges and universities, except for afew denominational ones, integration has taken effect since the1960s. Black athletes over the years have been noted to excel insport as well as their professional counterparts. The cultural changethat was widespread in the 1960s saw transformations beingadministered to policies in sports. As some of the students wereseeking equality in the treatment that they received while takingpart in sporting activities, athletics scholarships that were beingoffered were increasing. The following decade saw further incrementin the grants that were provided and had become prevalent in notonly the revenue sports namely football and basketball, but in othersas well10.The increment in the grants resulted in the expansion of athleticsquads which saw swelling of athletics departments in as far asoperating expenses were concerned11.Still, in the 1970s period, financial stress was eminent because thediversity and increment in college athletic spending were not fullycovered by the rather small fan base.

Thelate 20thcentury and into the new 21stcentury was characterized by reforms in the college sport. Thequestion that lingered in the minds of many was not whether collegeathletes were being paid, but rather how much were supposed to bepaid. The notable fact at the time was how the National CollegiateAthletic Association (NCAA) began to be viewed as a smart cartel thatwas out to exploit athletes who were considered to be ‘unpaidprofessionals’12.

Factsand figures in student-athlete enrollment

Inthe study of the history of student athletes and their admission intocolleges and universities, acknowledgment of the role that the NCAAplays is important. The Association has been tasked with the mandateof managing college student athletes. As much as the body has beenlinked to deceptive tactics and self-interest, it has continued torecord impressive statistics regarding the enrollment of collegestudent athletes. The NCAA recruitment facts reveal the fact thatcollege students have significantly benefited from the participatingin sports. Some of the pathway opportunities that are evident are theincrement in enrollment of the black students. In the Division Ischools, the number of students that are enrolled is very high aswell as the number of athletics scholarships that are provided13.

DivisionI schools are noted to manage the largest budgets that concernathletics. A full array of academic programs is offered in thedivision which black students can partake14.According to the 2016 statistics, the number of black students inDivision I was noted to be at 176,000, a figure drawn from about 346colleges15.Out of the number identified earlier, about 56% gain from athleticsaid and the graduation success as of 2014 was noted to be at 83%16.Other statistics identified that the median enrollment for studentsundertaking undergraduate studies was noted at 960517.The average team number per school in the statistics was at 19 whileparticipation in sports of the student body was identified at 4%18.

InDivision II schools, according to the 2016 NCAA statistics, 61% ofthe students gained from athletics aid. The students enrolled inthese schools benefit from growth opportunities through academicachievement, athletics competition, and community engagement. Theparticipation of student-athletes from whom the 61% were drawn,totaled 118,80019.The academic success rate in the same NCAA statistics as of 2014 wasnoted to be at 71%20.The NCAA statistics provides insight on the extent to which studentathletes are gaining from the aids and the scholarships that areprovided by the authority. The overall amount that is spent on thestudents` totals to over $1 billion and the rate of the studentsreceiving scholarships is seen to increase at a rate of 4.5% on anannual basis21.The beneficiaries of these scholarships are majorly black maleathletes compared to other minority groups, where the Asians, forinstance, are noted to form the lowest percentage of beneficiaries22.The meaning of the statistics presented earlier is that is theenrollment of the black athletes is noted to be on the rise. Theblack students who benefit from the scholarships go on to achieveacademic success though at a lower level compared to non-athletestudents23.

Thehistory of black athletes in colleges and universities sheds light onthe transformation that has been present in the world of amateursports, as far as benefits are concerned. The history also revealschallenges that are presented to students which are considered asdetriments in this paper. The section below will give open anunderstanding on the cartel of collegiate athletics where the side ofthe students and that of the sporting authority, the NCAA in thiscase, will be considered.

Blackmale student-athletes: Detriments vs. Benefits

Blackmale students draw a broad range of advantages as a result ofengagement in sport. However, very limited research that acknowledgesthis fact is available. As stated earlier, black male students arethe greatest beneficiaries of the athletic scholarships that areavailable. Some of the challenges encountered and the benefits thatthese students enjoy are noted below.

TheExploitation of Black students in collegiate athletics

Thereis the concern that rests among some members of the general publicregarding the role that black students in the collegiate athletics24.The role of NCAA in providing scholarship opportunities to blackstudents is notable, however many questions revolve around thefunctionality of this authority. Eyebrows are raised each time theword NCAA buzzes in the ears of athletes and findings reveal thatexploitation of student athletes takes place. The exploitation of theathletes is so much that some people have resorted to referring tothe NCAA as a ‘lucrative cartel’ that is out to mint money off ofstudent athletes when they are in their ‘periods of relevance.`When the student is deemed as being irrelevant, they often end upbeing dropped by officials that manage them, sadly with nothing.Studies in the area of exploitation of student athletes are verydiverse, and some of the findings that have noted will be identifiedas below.

Studentathletes as ‘money-minting machines`

TheNCAA is linked to accusations of using student athletes for theirself-interest. Overrepresentation of blacks in revenue generatingcollege sport tends to be on the rise at an ‘alarming rate’.25The2009 statistics indicate that only 4% of black students accounted forthe students that took part in full-time undergraduate studies in theinstitutions of higher learning. However, in Division I colleges, 55%of the students in the football and basketball teams were blackmales. The Division I institutions are considered to be mostprofitable ones in as far as competition levels are concerned26.These statistics portray the overrepresentation of black males in therevenue generating sport which ought to be a concern to the policymakers. Such like disparities are subjects to debate when looking atthe extent to which the black men are duped and exploited forathletics reasons. The fortune that the NCAA makes off the blackstudent athletes and how this cash is utilized raises eyebrows. Thefinding presented above affirms to the fact that students are used as‘money-minting machines.`

Discrepanciesin both the completion and graduation rates:

Asidesfrom being exploited to make money black athletes are noted to bedisadvantaged in their studies to the extent that the numbers inpercentage of those who make it to graduation appear to bedwindling27.Available statistics in some colleges indicate that the numbers ofblack athletes that are graduating are lower compared to ordinaryblack students who do not engage in any form of sport28.The meaning of the above findings is that most athlete students losefocus while on campus especially when they are expected by theircoaches to put on a good show while battling it out against theiropponents during competitions. These students are expected by theirofficials to fill stadiums with supporting fans and thus make money,something they do at the expense of their academics. What is notableis that the officials that manage student athletes tend not to havecare about the academic eligibility of these black students butinstead, their athletic one. The racial inequity present in thegraduation rates of black athletes in powerhouse sports indicatesthat these students fare poorly in as far as academics compared totheir counterparts from other races29.Also, despite the increment in the graduations rates of black studentathletes, it does not make a difference because other races recordrising rates as well. The meaning is that racial disparity persistsfurther30.The concluding note in this respect is that students are takenadvantage of by the sports programs that they indulge31.The aftermath is that they fail to complete their courses or they donot make it to graduation.

Contradictoryfact

Thecontradictory bit that exists is that, despite the fact that athleticblack students are exploited by the NCAA as well as other affiliateorganizations and bodies, they benefit as well at the end of the day.The student-athletes` gain from opportunities provided to them by theofficials who manage their sporting action. The athletes also benefitfrom financial aids and the possibility of earning academicachievement because of a lesser workload. Some of the advantages thatare evident are as pointed out below.

Opportunitiesfor excellence

Theblack athletes are provided with an array of opportunities which as aresult draws them closer to realizing future success. The studentsbenefit from opportunities that they did not have in the firstplace32.The scholarships that black athletes get allow them to be enrolled ininstitutions of higher learning. Most of the beneficiaries arestudents who are transiting from high school and as a result, becomematriculated into colleges. The students acquire the chances toreceive college education by engaging, representing and excelling insporting activities. These opportunities also shape the athletes forfuture acceptance into professional teams. These students, therefore,have their future success molded through athletics scholarships.These athletes, if determined, go on to improve their families andcommunities in the long run.

Financialassistance

Thescholarships that the students acquire, in the form of financialaids, allow them to stay in school during their academic sessions. In2012, statistics available from the NCAA revealed that 5% of theblack males in college had access to scholarships33.A majority of the non-athletic students drop out from collegesbecause of reasons that are financial based. When they drop out, thechances of them achieving their academic endeavors become almostimpossible, and the scenario that looms in is desperation andinstances of individuals who failed to pursue their dreams. Studentattrition rates owing to financial reasons are examples of thescenarios that prompt individuals to hopeless lives34.Athletic black male students, therefore, have an upper hand when itcomes to success in both academic and sporting endeavors.

Interviewsconducted by a research study identified that a majority of the blackstudent athletes counted themselves as being lucky because of thefunding opportunities that they received35.Most of the students were happy that they would not have to pay offmassive loan debts having acquired the scholarships as a result ofengagement in college sports. Some were glad that their parents didnot have to worry about footing their education bills. Theseinterviews revealed that the black students looked to thescholarships as important funding options that allow them to stay inschool indicating that they truly benefited from indulgence incollege sports36.

Academicsupport

Asa result of acquiring scholarships, the black male students whoengage in college sports gain from having a lighter workload, ascenario that allows them to balance both their curricula and extracurricula activities. While these students pursue excellence in thesporting field, they also add to the prestige of the universities orcolleges that they represent. The black male students are thereforeable to develop their esteem as they advance in both academic andathletic vocations of their college or university lives. Theeducational success of some of the black athletes is very impressivedespite their tight schedules, thanks to the academic support thatthey acquire in the form of extra tutoring37.These athletes have been noted to outperform their regularcounterparts, with statistics evident from flagship universities38. In South Dakota University, for instance, the graduation rate ofregular black students was determined to be at 36% compared toathletic students whose graduation rate was noted to be at animpressive 86%39.

Talksregarding the benefits and the disadvantages that affect blackstudent athletes are rather controversial. For instance, a majorityof the researchers take the side of the student-athletes when itcomes to addressing payment. These researchers support the fact thatblack student-athletes are exploited for their efforts. On thecontrary, the college officials that manage college athletes make theidentification that these students benefit from engaging in sport,given the ‘education package’ that they offer these students.This section will look to identify the controversies surrounding thecollege officials regarding the pay regimens that are offered toblack athlete students.

Controversysurrounding payment of the student athletes

Paymentcontroversy is the dominant form of student-athlete exploitation thatblack athletes encounter. The controversy is heightened in therevenue sports particularly during the championships40.In basketball and football championships, college officials tend toshow the extent of their craving for parades, fans, pageantry and anincrement in the number of games that are televised. In suchinstances, graduation rates are noted to be very low among collegeathletes when on the contrary, the recruitment of young men solelyfor their athletic potential tends to be heightened. The pressurelevels for athletes to put their best foot forward during the gamesalso rises. For quite a while now, first-year students have beennoted to enter into contractual agreements with the universities theyattend where they exchange athletic performance and the keys toacquiring higher education learning opportunities. The disturbingtruth is that the students in the agreements live up to the end oftheir bargain as far as providing exemplary athletic performances areconcerned. The universities, in this respect, have been noted toignore some of their parts to the contracts.

Theathletic departments in colleges and universities gain from giftedblack students who they have significantly commoditized41.These departments accumulate a lot of gate receipts, revenues ofmedia streams like televisions and radios, visibility in the nationalplatforms and program university donors. The financial imbalancesthat exist between the black male student-athletes and the collegesor universities which they represent have resulted in criticsexposing the surpluses in finances that the officials in the collegesand universities pocket, behind the backs of the athletes42.The athletes are as a result rendered powerless or may be alienatedor isolated because they tend not to be in a position where they cancontend for their rights to receive a reasonable pay. Thedisproportionate number of black athletes taking part in football andbasketball adds further to the injury. The analogy that is created iswhere the playing fields in the colleges are compared to the historyof the American slavery (males as laborers) which was a disturbingpoint in the history of the US43.The comparison of the exploitation of black male athletes to the longand unsightly history of racism in the US calls for an address to theissues surrounding the controversy in payment. Some researchersconsider the refusal of the NCAA to pay black student athletes asbeing an apartheid system where the students suffer in exploitationat the expense of the industry decision makers who are predominantlywhite44.The disturbing truth is that the NCAA makes billions from collegerevenue sport, thanks to unpaid labor of the athletes45.

Itis important that the student athletes be paid for the effort thatthey put when they engage in sporting activities. In the bid toaddress what could be done to salvage the esteem and power of theblack male athletes, the recommendations which concern paymentschemes are imperative.

Whatcan be done to alleviate the student-athlete pay controversy?

Curbingthe long history of black male athlete exploitation would requiregoing back to the drawing board where ‘crooked paths ought to bemade straight.` In the absence of making the necessary correction tothe system that is presently available, a scenario that is mundanewill continue to take effect. Some of the recommendations that canalleviate the current challenges in the student-athlete payment areas below.

Adoptionof the pay-after-play model

Theembrace of the pay after play method can be done to minimizeinstances of student exploitation.Underthis model, the college officials can offer students with monthlystipends after their participation in sports46.A majority of scholars in the legal field have affirmed to theapplication of this method, and they believe that model would workwhen talking of the discrepancy between the revenue garnered by theNCAA and the absence in compensation that is offered to athletes. Ifthis option is chosen, the colleges must be aware of the legalrepercussions for instance tax implications.

Sharingof revenue

Anotherpayment scheme that may be considered is the revenue sharing option.The plan involves sharing of the profits that are garnered in a givenseason. In the plan, the sharing is done between the college teamsand the student athletes after arriving at an agreed percentage47.The scholars that support this plan indicate that students ought toshare in the net profits that are made by a given team so that at theend of the day, only the teams that made profits acquire compensationto their efforts.

Laundrymoney option

Theoption presented above allows colleges to provide student athleteswith spending money which is estimated at a figure less than themonthly stipend48.

Eachof the options presented above has its merits and demerits, and it isimportant for colleges to understand them before considering theiradoption. Whichever regimen the colleges ought to adopt, the systemin place must ensure that fairness is embraced and that the voice ofthe student-athletes is heard loud and clear.

Conclusion

Thepaper has addressed important issues that are critical when talkingabout the participation of black males in college athletes. The walkdown the memory lane of the indulgent of black men in collegeathletics identified matters that revolved around racism andexploitation of some of the members of the black race. The struggleof the black men in their quest for breaking free from their socialideologies was captured in the history of college sport. Theexploitation of the black males has been linked to the fact that theyare overly represented in fortune making sports. Even with theirsuccess, some of the black athletes tend to have poor academicrecords. The exploitation has also been identified to be verycontroversial in the area of compensation that is supposed to beoffered to the black student-athletes. However, despite the factsthat revolve around exploitation of college students by Associationsthat manage them, they also benefit for the most part. The blackathletes were noted to achieve academic excellence because of thescholarship opportunities that are provided to them. The studentshave been allowed access to higher education opportunities which theywould not have been able to acquire in the first place. Thesestudents also benefit from financial aids that have been awarded tothem, a scenario that prevents them from dropping out of colleges.Additionally, some of the black students have been noted to gain frommanageable workloads which allow them to acquire academic success.Lighter workloads allow the students to balance their extra curriculaand curricula activities. At the end of the day, some colleges end uprecording a high number of student-athletes that go on to outperformtheir counterparts in academics, thus, increasing their overallgraduation rates. There is no doubt that the black malestudent-athletes benefit from college sport, despite the hurdles thatthey go through, given the findings that have been presented above.

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