Since I’ve been watching college basketball over the past 4 days pretty much nonstop I decided to do a post on March Madness but I wanted to put a certain spin on this basketball post. This post actually has nothing to do with basketball and has more to do with race, exploitation and higher education. If you’ve already lost interest then #kanyeshrug. Also, I understand that my views may sound a bit controversial or out of date but hey they’re my opinions and if you don’t like it #kanyeshrug (x2).
Anyway, if you’re like me then you filled out a bracket or two (or 6). Looking at my bracket I saw out of the 68 teams represented (play-in games included) only two were represented by HBCUs. Those would be Hampton University and Alabama State University. I understand that in this day and age athletic programs at HBCUs pale in comparison to athletic programs at PWIs. Being that I attended a HBCU for my undergraduate education (University of Maryland Eastern Shore) and I currently attend one for graduate school (Meharry Medical College) I have great pride in all HBCUs.
Lets just look at the NFL as a microcosm of all sports. Here are just a few NFL players that attended HBCUs. Listed by school:
Alabama A&M: Robert Mathis, DE, Colts; John Stallworth, WR, Steelers
Alcorn (Miss.): Steve McNair, QB, Titans; Donald Driver, WR, Packers
Delaware State: John Taylor, WR, 49ers
Fort Valley (Ga.) State: Greg Lloyd, LB, Steelers; Tyrone Poole, DB, Carolina; Rayfield Wright, T, Dallas
Grambling: Doug Williams, QB, Tampa Bay; Buck Buchanon, DT, Chiefs; Charlie Joyner, WR; Jake Reed, WR, Vikings
Hampton: Kendall Langford, DE, Miami; Justin Durant, LB, Jaguars
Howard: Antoine Bethea, DB, Colts; Jay Walker, QB, Patriots
Jackson State: Walter Payton, RB, Chicago and Robert Brazile, LB, Houston, Jackie Slater, T, Rams; Jimmy Smith, WR, Cowboys
Mississippi Valley: Jerry Rice, WR, 49ers; Deacon Jones, DE, Rams; Ashley Ambrose, CB, Colts
Morgan (Md.) State: Vishante Shiancoe, TE, Giants; Willie Lanier, LB, Chiefs; Leroy Kelly, RB, Browns; Raymond Chester, TE, Raiders
Savannah (Ga.) State: Shannon Sharpe, TE, Broncos
Tennessee State: Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, DB, Cardinals; Ed “Too Tall” Jones, DE, Cowboys; Richard Dent, DE, Bears
Maryland State/Eastern Shore: Carl Hairston, DE, Eagles; Art Shell, OT, Raiders
Now this is just a short list. The key point here is that in the past as well as today there are still quality athletes being produced by schools that have perceived inferior talent. While watching the Duke/Hampton game I couldn’t help but cheer for Hampton for one of three reasons. 1) I hate Duke. Duck Fluke 2) I always root for the underdog unless they’re playing a D.C. based team (and that doesn’t happen often. DC sports teams are almost always the underdog) and 3) I would have loved to see a HBCU beat a perennial powerhouse.
Think about this. What if segregation still existed today? Like what if James Meredith decided to never enroll into the University of Mississippi? Black people would all still enrolled at HBCUs and lets face it the truth is that in most sports black people are superior to our caucasian counterparts. It’s not stereotyping if you look at the sheer numbers of African-Americans represented in the top two sports in this country (football and basketball). So lets for a second say that in this day and age all the top athletes in this country attended HBCUs. I guarantee the four number one seeds in NCAA tournament would look something like this, East: Hampton; Southeast: Howard; West: Florida A&M and Southwest: Morehouse. The play-in games would consist of the University of North Carolina and Ohio State University. The power conferences in football would look something: MEAC, SWAC and CIAA.
[in German; subtitled] It’s only the offspring of slaves that allows America to be competitive athletically. American Olympic gold can be measured in Negro sweat. Joseph Goebbels (The Inglorious Basterds)
So in this imaginary world that only exists inside my mind, all the top black high school athletes now attend HBCUs. Now HBCUs have all the talent and win all the games. Sponsors like Nike, Adidas, Under Armor and Powerade are now pouring their dollars into these schools because lets face it, no sponsor wants to be associated with a loser. We all like to be affiliated with winners. For participation in the tournament the NCAA gives teams a travel allowance for each game that they play, but the real money comes from their share of the conference money. For example the MVC received $2.95 million based upon its success between 2000-2005, whereas the Big 12 received $14.4 million. Teams that make it to the first round this year and lose receive $82,000 in travel money, and they receive more if they advance. Now imagine how much money all that money pouring in the MEAC or SWAC would fix. All the problems that are perceived to be wrong with HBCUs would cease to exist.
I’m in no way advocating or trying to discourage blacks from attending whatever school is right for them but I just can’t help but wonder. This is what happens when you watch a bunch of basketball while listening to Lupe Fiasco’s All Black Everything.