“Professional sport is supposed to put Black History Month directly in the public eye” – The Guilfordian


Take a look at Serena Williams, Muhammad Ali, Jackie Robinson – even leagues as a whole, like the NBA and NFL, which initially banned allowing black athletes to compete, but are now at around 70% of the competition. Black – and it is impossible to say that the popularity of sports is inseparable from the success of black athletes. February is dedicated to remembering the triumphs and nuances of black history, and sport has proven to be a facet of American society hugely advanced by the achievements of blacks.

“Sport allows us to examine where we are as a society because it reflects who we are,” said Michael White, professor of sports management at Guilford College, referring to this unique platform in the United States. United.

This distinctive sort of chair of sport bullying in American society, combined with the evident depth of black history, creates a unique crossroads where historical figureheads can be commemorated and celebrated for their contributions to athletics and their profound impact on the fans who watch them.

“On a personal level, I see these players as examples of how to ignore opponents and stay true to your goals,” said Guilford quarterback Derrien Phillips, discussing some of his early role models in football. “They have all been examined in different ways, but continue to persevere in their careers. “

Phillips’ testimony of the inspiring role these professionals frequently play exposes the complex adversity that many black athletes face on their journey, and the caliber of strength required to endure and overcome it. Not only do black professionals have to work to become the elite in their fields, but they do so as targets of animosity and discrimination.

“Over the course of my career I would say the stereotype of black quarterbacks has at times overshadowed my total ability to play and learn the game,” said Phillips, “but I would compare that to being black in school. ; we’re “not smart enough, don’t try hard, class clowns,” the list goes on.

Phillips makes this link between stereotypes encountered in sports and academia to highlight a similarity between the environments where he has had to ignore discrimination, choosing, in his words, “to let stereotypes of race fuel me even more and push me to win ”.

However, racial stereotypes also frequently shape the circumstances black athletes face in several ways. Junior volleyball player Makayla Felton spoke of her experiences throughout her career playing in high school and club leagues, often as the only African American on otherwise white teams.

“I’m sure you know this stereotype that African Americans are good at sports because we can jump high, run fast, and we are “naturally athletic.”, ‘”Said Felton. “MYour teammates were really watching me to help win games by scoring the majority of points and being the best in defense.

Felton recalled her decision to remain silent about the pressure she was facing, simply because of her acceptance of the circumstances.

“I didn’t feel upset about my situation,” she said. “I just noticed (that was) my situation.”

This kind of apathy in response to the isolation faced by black athletes may indicate a potential for change to begin in the sports industry. However, this change must be adopted elsewhere.

As icons like Serena Williams become more and more recognized, young athletes are given role models in the prevalence of famous black athletes. Encouraging and normalizing black participation in sports, especially in women’s athletics, can help create a more welcoming and welcoming environment for new generations.

Felton pointed out that the very presence of four Black players on his team, rather than zero, created a new sense of belonging throughout his professional experience.

“I feel blessed every day to be at Guilford in a team where there have been more than three other black girls on the team with me, ”Felton remarked. “(I felt) more at ease with the Guilford volleyball team because of it.”

White shared similar observations about the atmosphere in Guilford.

“(I’ve) seen it in our own classes here at Guilford College – the opportunity to have an open debate, an open conversation about what’s going on in our world,” he commented.

He pointed out the need to teach students to have honest conversations about race, and spoke about the crucial role sport plays in such conversations.

(The breed is) safe to talk about, (and) it’s something to talk about, ”he said. “One of the things I’ve always enjoyed about sport is that it’s a place where people from different backgrounds, people from different backgrounds, come together to be a part of something.

White, like many others, recognizes the potential of sport to become a tool for social progress. Whether these are examples given by icons of sport or the education that people gain from watching sports, the audience and society’s interest in sport creates a path for history des Noirs is transmitted and celebrated directly in the public eye.


Sara R. Cicero