My boy was approximately 6 when he had his expert sports activities epiphany, which I promptly deflated like a Tom Brady soccer. “Daddy, I wanna play soccer after I grow up….”

“Nope… You can’t play football,” I instructed my son. “You’re not going to be someone’s practice dummy on their way to the NFL.”


Harsh? Maybe. But in this father’s loving eyes, there has been extra to dream for my black son’s future than just soccer and basketball — and also his good mind to shield. How about engineering or regulation or physics?

In the following breath, he requested, “Can I play basketball?”

Education, no longer pro sports activities, is almost usually the important thing to a black child’s future 1

“Yes, son, you can play basketball. You also can run song and pass-u. S . A .,” I replied, echoing the recommendation I had heard as soon as about taking up a game you can do for the rest of your life.

I grew up playing basketball and soccer as a kid on Chicago’s West Side. Like such a lot of other boys, I dreamed of at some point making it to the NBA, even supposing it became for me and my athletic ability set just a pipe dream.

I admit to having sinned with basketball, to have spent long hours on a concrete court docket — within the rain, cold, sleet, or sunbaked heat — hoisting up shots from near sunup to properly after sunset.

I’m a sports activities fan. A member of the NFL Sunday-loving dude clan who stays for the game and savour each difficult-hitting scintillating moment. I’m a former basketball junkie with a nonetheless timeless love for the sport.

And but, I am admittedly also a hypocrite.

My deep love of sports activities isn’t something I ever desired to pass on to my kid, especially at the chance of him potentially being smitten by using the professional sports malicious program that consumes far too many black boys. That has grown to be our cultural obsession located upon a pedestal.

An optical phantasm, it reasons far too many black boys to spend an inordinate amount of time honing their athletic talents instead of sprucing their intellect and their academic or artistic talents.

Education is the key, now not athletics.

Quite frankly, in some ways, I even have grown ill with soccer and basketball. I actually have come to see expert sports — or as a minimum, the idea of creating it to the pros — as a part of the mass myth that leads some distance too many African-American youths, specifically from negative neighborhoods, down the direction of chasing a dream that for the widespread majority of them will prove to be just a mirage.

Indeed across the African-American landscape, the pipe dream is alive and properly from wherein I stand at the sidelines sobered by way of reality.

The truth is that at the same time as turning into a professional athlete is not a not possible dream for some of our sons — and daughters — it’s miles for a maximum of them an unbelievable one. Supply and call for — no longer sufficient positions.

The reality is that there exist past game infinite opportunities and opportunities for careers, achievement, and existence. And a college sports scholarship can help pave the manner to excellent schooling.

The truth is that maximum black children will not run or dribble or rap and dance their manner to achievement. Not that something is inaccurate with any one of these.

The danger lies in having a one-dimensional perspective. It lies in lowering our youngsters’ opportunities to a pipe dream and in no longer seizing our position as dad and mom to put books first, no long balls.

It lies in knowing that the statistical probabilities for a maximum of the untold thousands upon hundreds of boys who lace up a couple of shoes turning pro in basketball or football are narrow to none.