The Dangerous “Race” Toward Sports

by justsomebody on December 9, 2016 - 3:49pm

African American males and athletics seem to go hand to hand in today’s society. Not only do people associate blacks with athletics, to a certain degree it is expected of them. The article that I want to highlight talks more specifically about the effects that the excessive representation of African American males in solely athletics and entertainment has on a community of people and the outcomes of those views (Beamon, 2010, p. 281). The article doesn't say that black males cannot achieve the success of athletes, that is not the point of the article, but the focus is that a many young African American males do however see it as the only dream to strive for as opposed to them holding up other academically successful careers up to the same level of respect and desire. 

 

The way Beamon was able to support these claims is through a well-developed qualitative study. The study attempted to examine the socialization process of African American male athletes specifically. To go further even further she was able to interview 20 former D1 athletes and let them talk about their upbringings. These interview sessions were about 1 to 5 hours with each of the partakers tasked with identifying different socializing agents in their lives. These agents (which included parents, teachers, television personalities, etc) often emphasized sports which came up as one of the findings. On another note Beamon found out that family was the most influential of the socializing agents. Out of all of the athletes interviewed at least one guardian or parent was the one constantly pushing them toward the athletic environment and that they truly believed they could and should try with all their effort to make it to the professional stage. Again, there is not problem with the support from family. The issue is that this in turn produces dangerous consequences which Beamon believes to be setting back social and cognitive growth amongst these black males. Lower levels of academic achievement were a constant amongst many African American homes. Other findings in the study also addressed the problem with a lack of role models outside of sports and entertainment. The study showed that 15 of the 20 respondents identified athletes are their biggest role models while the other 5 said that they had no role models and that the next in line to a role model would be a family member: further strengthening the fact that family seemed to be the most important socializing agent (Beamon, 2010, p.290). With socializing agents all reinforcing sports, young African American males only see sports as the equivalent to success or the big ticket prize to strive for. To know there are so much more opportunities to find success outside of sports such as through academics and working hard in education is very important for young African American men to know. Readers should understand this research to be more informed. There are actual causes behind the stereotypes that people ignorantly recite about black people and sports. Beamon gives the readers an insight to the question of “why” these common misconceptions come to be and what we, as readers, can take away this. Young black men should all explore what else is out there before making the decision to commit to being a professional athlete solely off of the fact that that is all they know. I, as a young black man myself, can really relate to the article and through my own agents I have been pushed to see the broader world around me. The big takeaway we can all learn as young black men and all other men and women for that matter, is that there is a lot out there if we just open our eyes and look for it.

 

 

Beamon, K.K. (2010). Are Sports Overemphasized in the Socialization Process of African American Males? A Qualitative Analysis’ Perception of Sports Socialization. Journal of Black Studies, 41(2), 281-300

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