I’ve written about this before and as I watch the Super Bowl today I think about it again.
Why doesn’t corporate and institutional America look like the players representing today’s Super Bowl competitors? Seventy percent of National Football Players (NFL) are black and that is true of the Los Angeles Rams and the New England Patriots.
The statistics are similar for the National Basketball Association (NBA).
The explanation is equally simple and sad
Many young poor blacks and Latinos don’t see faces like theirs among America’s professional, educational, and government elite. Instead they see persons like them excelling as athletes.
Professional athletics are acceptable professions, of course. But when–as a young person–you see most of your race or ethnicity in these activities and too few in other fields, it’s not surprising that you accept a world of limited opportunities.
Furthermore, too many colleges recruit young athletes for their teams but provide very little academic support. The college graduation rate of young black male student-athletes compared with their fellow classmates is disgracefully low.
This is wrong
We need more persons of color like Astronaut Leland Melvin among America’s institutional leaders. The son of black educators in Virginia. Melvin’s inspiring Ted TALK should remind us and especially today’s young people of the many paths open to all regardless of color, race, religion or sexual orientation. Our universities need to do a better job of encouraging all young people to excel academically and give realistic counseling on career opportunities.
I will enjoy today’s Super Bowl contest between two good NFL teams and marvel at the gifted athletes who will star in the game.
But at the end of the contest tonight, I’ll think of role models like Leland Melvin and ask how many NFL players might have chosen his journey if given the chance? Especially those who dreamed of athletic glory but never made the cut and never received their degree.