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Dreams and Deception

Sports Lure, Racism, and Young Black Males' Struggles in Sports and Education


Isabel Ann Dwornik

This book helps young black males, educators, policy makers, parents, and all other interested parties to understand the importance of education alongside athletic pursuits. In the world today, many young black males view athletic participation as the way to secure a successful future. Yet for the majority of them, dreams of playing professional sports rarely pan out. Many end up returning to a life of poverty as a result of the sports lure which deceives them and entices them to focus exclusively on athletic talent at the expense of their education. This book presents a social historical and critical deconstruction introducing readers to this sports lure, revealing what makes it so powerful in the lives of these youths. As Isabel Ann Dwornik documents, centuries-worth of racism in the United States is at the core of this phenomenon, which has affected the academic identity development of black male youths and has discouraged them from taking full advantage of their schooling.

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In his Athens Banner-Herald article “Graduation Rates Improve for NCAA Tournament Teams,” David Brandt (2013) reported that for all student athletes that played in the 2012 and 2013 NCAA tournaments, the graduation rates increased from 67 percent in 2012 to 70 percent in 2013. This is quite a leap from the 1980, 1990, and early 2000 data, which revealed that less than 50 percent of all revenue-generating sports athletes graduated. As Lapchick (as cited in Brandt, 2013) noted, this is the most progress detected in graduation rates for over three decades (para. 7), especially considering that the gap between black and white players “declined 3 percent” (para. 7). Yet when examining the rates for NCAA tournament players, there is a 25 percent difference between blacks and whites. Moreover, Lapchick (as cited in Brandt, 2013) noted, out of the 38 percent of black male college graduates, 65 percent of them are student athletes (para. 10). Most likely this is the result of “the NCAA’s tightening of academic rules and recent involvement of U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan” (as quoted in Brandt, 2013, para. 10) and the NCAA’s threat to take scholarships away from colleges and universities that do not abide by them.

Within the past few years, the NCAA has done more than just threaten these schools. For example, in 2013 they banned 10 schools from post-season play, including the 2011 National Basketball Tournament Champions, the ← 185 | 186 → University of Connecticut Huskies. The “real threat of...

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