the funneling of black and brown bodies into sports

You know what it is: you know what it is: you want to know what it is:
I believe in volcanoes.
I do believe in Vesuvius.
You know what I do not believe in?
Motherfucking football.
If one more person brings a uniform around my kid


Christine is very persistent that she does not want her son to participate in sports – and as the mother of a black boy she has good reason. In 2018 a study by the University of Southern California’s Race and Equity Center concluded that black men are being exploited in the name of college athletics – “Of the 65 universities studied, black men comprised 2.4 percent of all undergraduates but 55 percent of football team members and 56 percent of basketball team members “

To make this disparity worse graduation rates are lower for black male athletes and have been dropping every year. Author and ex-footballer Martellus Bennett cites this study in an article he wrote for The Washington Post Beyond the game: We teach black boys sports are their only hope. What if we let them dream bigger? Martellus talks about the larger cultural implications these stats contextualize – that so many black boys and communities see sports as the only path to success, a path out of poverty.

Sports, he says, creates a hierarchy of how students are viewed in the neighborhood and how the neighborhood chooses to uplift the student. -Athletes are overly celebrated in communities at the cost of academics, arts, technology. Football coaches discourage exploration of anything else. When “only 8 out of every 10,000 high school football players get drafted by an NFL team” this means that these communities that have been set up around black boys are setting them up to fail.

If one more person brings a uniform around my kid
Instead of a pencil or a paintbrush or 3D printer I swear to God.
My son’s voice is loud here.
And nobody says stop that.
Or sit out.
Or man up.
He is: he is: he is allowed to be.


Not only economically but in the long term we know that football causes irreparable damage to the brain. According to NPR “A report by the Journal of the American Medical Association, published in 2017, showed that in a study of 111 brains of deceased former National Football League players, 110 had evidence of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). CTE has been linked with repeated blows to the head, and can result in behavioral changes and cognitive decline.” Despite the known risks, low-income students think that the chance of getting rich in the NFL, or a scholarship to high school or college is worth it. (NPR)

Christine wants her son to have nothing to do with this culture and risks.

Fun quotes:
“Given the formidable revenue generating force of college athletics—especially football and basketball—these figures strongly suggest racial exploitation, the kind whereby black men are used primarily for their athletic skills to generate income for universities that educate mostly white graduates for successful careers.”
Are universities exploiting black male athletes in order to raise revenues?

“It’s a luxury to worry about these long-term, sort of abstract damages to these kids and their parents,” Samaha said. “The risks are all around them — the risks of not going to high school, the risks of not making it into college, or the risks of of falling into kind of the street path that they’d seen other people around them fall into.”
Football is their ticket out. But Samaha argues that America needs to reckon with the broader ethical implications of the sport.
“America’s dual commitments to football and racial oppression have meant that the danger of the sport will increasingly fall on the shoulders of low income black and brown kids,” Samaha said.
Meanwhile, he says, the money from the sport is mainly going to white coaches and white owners.

Poor students more likely to play football, despite brain injury concerns

“So as black boys, we learn to dunk on people in the paint, not paint beautiful pictures. We stiff-arm defenders, not defend people in court. We crossover our opponents, not cross over into business. We learn code names for play calls, not how to code. We touch the top of the backboard, not the stars. We get introduced to the world based on our athletic attributes. Our superpowers.”
Beyond the game: We teach black boys sports are their only hope. What if we let them dream bigger