The Problem of the Color-Line Part I

Heisman Bush Football

By Jamari Jordan

In his series of essays in Souls of Black Folk, W.E.B. Du Bois said, “The problem of the 20th century is the problem of the color-line.” The case could be made that society still cannot find the answer.

It may be 2013, but we don’t live in a post-racial society just yet.  Highlighted by recent racially-charged situations in America like Trayvon Martin, a post-racial society seems far away. Look to none other than the sports world to exemplify this.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL AND BASKETBALL:

Only seven percent of college athletic directors are black. Even more shocking, of the 120 colleges, only 12 feature black head coaches. While the power in college football has not changed, the pawns have.

Based off of a 2011 NCAA survey, African Americans gained a majority for the first time in football. In 1999, college football possessed 51.3 percent of white athletes and 39.5 percent of black athletes. In 2010, college football possessed 45.1 percent of white athletes and 45.8 percent of black athletes.

College basketball’s statistics does not show much growth in diversity either. Less than 20 percent of colleges have black head basketball coaches. As of 2010, 30.5 percent of athletes are white, while 60.9 percent are black.

Where’s the positive correlation? For sports dominated by black athletes, where is the black leadership. These pre-dominantly white institutions heavily recruited these black athletes. Many came from less-than backgrounds with a very low income and a single-parent household.

Not to say that white coaches cannot lead black players (i.e, Nick Saban at Alabama), but there is a level of admiration and respect that black players have for a coach that looks like them and face their same hardships.  The burden falls on schools’ board of regents and presidents. They must pursue diversity, not only in its student body, but in its leadership (teachers, athletic directors, coaches, and coordinators).

Until then, at these Division 1 schools, white “supremacy” controls the fate of the black athlete. Just like the slave community. The AD’s as the master, the coaching staff as the overseers, and the players as the slaves.

           

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