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Blackballs, Curveballs, and Black Boys?
There’s an adage that sports reflect life, though I hold a prejudice for baseball as the best mirror of how we live. I hold another baseball prejudice: There are too few black boys playing baseball.
My first thoughts along those lines are that we all spend our entire lives in the batter’s box swinging at pitches life throws at us. For perspective, thirty years ago I dreamed I would grow into the on-field talent and toughness of Jackie Robinson with the off-field conscience and courage of Martin Luther King, Jr.
Growing up on Hollywood Rd. in Atlanta I dreamed of playing professional baseball, and did, but little did I know then I’d end up attempting to right baseball’s biggest wrong, the lack of black boys playing the game.
Please don't read this as a rant shaming America's game. Think of it, rather, in baseball terms of "chin music" that's will hopefully get your attention before I serve up a straight pitch you can handle. What I write is meant as an exposition of the years of challenges facing deserving black boys who just want a chance at-bat.
Over time what I’d like to call fallacies, but will instead call misconceptions have undermined the inclusion of more black boys in baseball:
- Black boys are not as athletic as they used to be
- Black boys refuse to practice on their own
- Black boys have lost the ability to think critically
You'll get no argument from me that black boys need to take more responsibility for their success, but my hardball life experiences have persuaded me that even exposing those misconceptions as the fallacies that they are will not level the playing field.
Because I believe the problem lies in these three hard to hit pitches black boys face if they even get a chance to swing:
THE FAST BALL
“White is Right” is a mistake I made and regret, and continues to be made by young black athletes who think white coaches provide better instruction, favor with scouts, and a shield from the label that black boys are lazy and not coachable.
These decisions adversely affect the black talent pool, delivering no harvest for the upcoming generation and the cycle continues as many black boys are consumed with winning and not our legacy.
“Winning Is Everything” is the second pitch that fools and confuses black boys. As young players, their intensity should focus on self-development instead of winning. A deadly mistake they make because they're anxious about a scholarship or big-league future is equating wins with self-worth. Their pursuit of winning causes them to bankrupt their identities as win now obsessing is the very thing that causes them to lose big later."
THE CURVE BALL
“Hope is Enough” is the most dangerous pitch of all. Filled with the illusion of hope, black boys who sit and wait for the world to come to them are like the deuce, spinning through life as the curveball does. But, suddenly, their path drops to a bad place.
Who is on the mound throwing those pitches at black boys? A fireballer with HISTORY stitched on his uniform. HISTORY’s pitches not only strikeout black boys in baseball it injures them in life, too.
These words are mine, they come from my bleeding baseball heart and describe my passion to preserve the game I love, inviting you to help me get more black boys into baseball, with your agreement, critique, and ideas.