I was excited to check MSNBC.com today and find this article that states that the black athlete graduation rate is up 24 points over 20 years (from 1984-2004) for all NCAA Division I Sports. At a time when black athletes are generally praised for their work on the field moreso than their work in the classroom, it’s good to see that the performance gap between blacks and whites is narrowing.
What I also found to be interesting was the statement in the article that black athletes tend to graduate at higher rates than black students in general. While we all know “those athletes” at our school who are more focused on their sport than their academics, it’s good to see that overall, athletes are contributing to the academic and athletic climates of universities.
Anyone who knows me, knows that I feel that we should encourage athletes to be academically successful also. There’s a book written by Dr. Billy Hawkins, a professor at UGA, entitled “The New Plantation: The Internal Colonization of Black Student-Athletes” that discusses the colonizer/colonized relationship between sport coaches/administrators and black student-athletes. It’s an interesting read, and Hawkins implies that the trend with predominantly white institutions is to give the black student-athletes superficial academic assistance with the goals of only keeping them eligible to play their respective sport; as opposed to academically preparing them for a life outside of the world of collegiate athletes.
At any rate, it’s good to hear some positive news about black student-athletes, and hopefully those graduation rates will continue to rise. There’s always room for improvement- it’s the biggest room in the house.