NCAA contenders looked like Black colleges

But they were not, nor do Black athletes or 

Black colleges share in the sport wealth


A week ago, tens of millions of Americans (with millions more around the world) tuned into the NCAA BCS national championship football game, played at the Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana. A big game.

And a big revenue generator. A great payday for all White colleges eligible to get their cut of the media and game-day millions. A big payday for White coaches dependent on winning records.

Ask, then, with all these millions, why players only receive a room, some books and a blanket? The players, the majority of whom are Black, are the economic engines causing mega-millions to rain down on America’s major White institutions.

And its not just football. It’s the same agenda and scenario with college basketball.

As we watched the BCS championship game, it was if we were watching two Black traditional colleges, because there were so many superb and excellent Black athletes on display in that game. Surely the winner was the Black college (as it would have been regardless of who won), which would also be an easy mistake to make for those watching around the world.

But then I came back to reality: White schools making millions off of Black field hands on America’s collegiate sports plantations. And yet, since the creation of the coach’s poll, the AP poll, and other polls in both football and basketball, a Black college has never been ranked in the top 25.

The facts: Black athletes make hundreds of millions of dollars for White institutions in exchange for a room, some books, a blanket, and the NFL dream.

Playing for a top-25 college is the doorway to being showcased for playing in the NFL. Only about eight out of every 10,000 high school football players will make the NFL draft. Black athletes play collegiate football and basketball at all levels. There are two national collegiate championships, football and basketball. Doesn’t it seem each year as if they are Black colleges?

In the 2012 national BCS championship game, the two White coaches are going to make, in salaries, bonuses and other gratuities, over $4 million between them. Guaranteed.

The players? Graduation? Not guaranteed. Studies indicate only 35 percent of Black players will graduate with a degree. Some believe the number is lower.

Yes, Blacks have come a long way. When the NFL became integrated in 1946, Alabama and Louisiana State University didn’t allow Blacks to do anything on campus except sweep and clean.

The addition of Black athletes to White schools after those schools were integrated resulted in even greater riches for White schools, but not for Black schools or Black athletes. And with the lucrative television contracts starting in the 1980s, America’s White universities hit a gold mine, where the schools got the gold and most Black players got the shaft.

And yet, in the tradition of “separate and unequal,” Black colleges in America slip further and further down the ladder of economic opportunity and growth. In the top division of NCAA collegiate football, there is an overwhelming number of Black players yet few Black coaches, few Black athletic directors, and few Black college presidents.

Fifteen years ago, the Rev. Jesse Jackson and his Rainbow Coalition drew attention to the disparity confronting Blacks in the sports worlds of America. Then Rev. Jackson got distracted and backed away. We have not.

We well remember the meeting held right here in Minneapolis, 15 years ago, at the Hyatt Regency, when White coaches like Joe Paterno, Lou Holtz and others told Blacks in sports to just be patient, as things would improve. Martin Luther King, Jr. decried the “wait and be patient” advice, as do we, for it really means wait patiently in your place at the back of the bus and be thankful to have that place.

And so you can understand my confusion and error in the championship game at the Superdome in New Orleans. I was thinking about the dream, the dream deferred, a dream big money says we should not talk about anymore.

Kind of like what Joe Paterno told the gathering at the Hyatt Hotel in downtown Minneapolis 15 years ago: Just wait and be patient and something good will come your way. Just like his assistant coach and all of those little boys?

God bless the American Dream. Think about the future and don’t take your eyes off the prize.

Stay tuned.


Ron Edwards hosts “Black Focus” on Channel 17, MTN-TV, Sundays, 5-6 pm; hosts “Black Focus” on Blog Talk radio Sundays at 3 pm; and co-hosts Blog Talk Radio’s “ON POINT!” Saturdays at 4 pm, providing coverage about Black Minnesota. Order his books at Hear his readings and read his solution papers for community planning and development and “web log” at www.TheMinne

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