The Evolution of Athletes
Did they grow up in the last forty years?

EspreeNet News Service

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I've been involved with athletics for nearly 40 years and many of us black male athletes have worked to change the course of behavior of our brothers.

My junior year in college at Syracuse University, we stopped a bunch of freshmen football players from getting into a war with Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity. But now we see the same thing 25 years later with the Michigan State football team.

Twenty-five years ago we tried to get the football players to wear clothes to class instead of sweats everyday. We tried to get them to sit in the front of the class w/out hats and doo-rags and skullcaps.

Twenty years later while speaking to a college class, ten of the black football players were sitting in the back of the room with skull caps and doo-rags.

Over the last twenty-five years we've wrote articles, held mentorship programs, adopted hundreds of black male student-athletes and we still see the same things happening over and over again. It's not just an individual issue about Arenas, or Michigan State, or Tennessee's Basketball team, or Chris Henry's troubles, or Pacman Jones, or Michael Vick..or TI, Slick Rick, and Larry and Roger Troutman for that matter.

Sports and entertainment are a microcosm of society.

Drugs, dogs, guns, etc. are a part of everyday life for many of us brothers whether we want to be around it or not. The problem is there is inadequate and insufficient re-styling and re-programming of black males to change our direction en-masse.

It is not an individual problem but a systemic problem which requires systemic intervention. But then again, black males have always struggled with how to work these systems to change our direction.

We'll keep at it but it is a lonely, dark and expensive endeavor to undertake.

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Published January 11, 2010

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