Racism In Sports Essay, Research Paper
Wendy Sue Gifford
Peter A. Kiniklis
The African American College Athlete
The role of college athletics in the American home is known to all. The traditional football games on Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. March Madness for NCAA men’s basketball as well as the year’s end Rose bowl for college football leaves fans glued to their televisions for hours. Millions of Americans stare at ESPN or absorb themselves in the most recent issue of Sports Illustrated just to catch the latest news on their favorite teams’ recruits, recent games, and statistics. Often just viewed as a past time to most it is easy to lose sight of why these athletes are on the field , court, etc. to begin with. Believe it or not, it’s for their education. These young adults ranging anywhere from seventeen to twenty-three years of age are all members of the NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association). As such these students must initially meet the requirements to get accepted into their chosen university, participate in their sport, and ultimately graduate from their selected institution. It is often forgotten that these members are students first and athletes second. Delving deeper into this very controversial matter are the race and gender issues that come into play. The most affected minority group affected by these stipulations and is the African American. While struggling through the ongoing prejudice and discrimination that still exists today, African American athletes are still expected to follow the same guidelines as every other student that participates in college athletics. By investigating the trends from the past years of African American athletes beginning with their entrance into college throughout their athletic and academic careers and then afterward, you can see that although great leaps have taken place for this minority, it is still difficult for them to measure up for many reasons.
When the student athlete applies for admission to his/her school of choice there are two applications. One to the university, and one that goes through the NCAA Clearinghouse. This Clearinghouse governs the eligibility of any tentative student-athlete that will receive a scholarship to participate in a NCAA regulated collegiate sport. The requirements stipulated by this governing body include a minimum G.P.A. of 2.0, thirteen academic “core” courses as stipulated buy the NCAA and minimum scores on either the SAT or ACT college entrance exam. Students with lower standardized test scores need higher G.P.A’s in order to meet the specified requirements. These requirements are known as Proposition 16 (once known as Prop 48). Proposition 48 had only 11 necessary core courses but no sliding scale as far as a lower test score ofr a higher G.P.A. Since the implementation of this proposition, African Americans are denied acceptance at a rate 9-10 times higher than that for whites. (1) NCAA’s own research proved that hypothetically placing the 1986 stipulations on entering student-athletes in 1984 and 1985 would have denied 47% of the African American student-athletes who went on to graduate and only 8% of white student-athletes. Also taken into consideration is the fact that there is a direct correlation between low income families and standardized test scores. When the Proposition 16 requirements were invoked in 1996 to take place of the past Proposition 16, the number of eligible student athletes dropped from 83.2% to a stunning 64.7% . And though 67% of Asian and White college bound high school students met the requirements, only 46.4% of African American students did. African Americans are not even getting a chance to start, let alone prove what they can do. The discrimination begins simply at the beginning of enrollment to an institution and gets worse thereafter.
The rates these above criteria are weighed against are the graduation rates of those student athletes who do meet the requirements and attend college versus the normal student body. Even before the induction of Prop 48, student athletes maintained a higher graduation rate than the regular student body. This statistic still holds today. The most recent study shows the entering college class of 1992 where 58% of the approximately 67,000 graduated in six years versus their general counterparts’ graduation rate of 56%. Although the rate of graduation for male and female basketball players had slipped in the past several years, a minimal amount it can be attributed to the high success rate of the African American Athlete in professional sports such as the NBA or NFL. Though this may sound negative, the black female athlete is still graduating at a rate 12 percent higher than that of the her general counterparts and the black male at a rate 10 percent higher than his. Although the proportion of black student athletes dropped after Proposition 48, the actual number of graduating black student athletes increased. This supports the fact that those students entering college since its induction, have had a much higher success rate than those before.