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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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Chapter 11: Education and the Call to Action


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Martin Luther King, Jr. (as quoted in Horton, 2005) once attested, “The Negro will only be truly free when he reaches down to the inner depths of his own being and signs with the pen and ink of assertive selfhood his own emancipation proclamation” (p. 119). As Tatum (1999) documented, the dream of ending oppression, exploitation, and alienation for black men does not end without examining racial identity and what it means to be black in the white world. In doing so, there are important things that black males should not overlook, for instance, black-white relations and the history of slavery and racism, internalizations of inferiority for being a member of the black race, and contemporary racism, which has relegated many blacks to low-caste-like status indicative of inequality in housing, health care, education, and employment, and which underlie black males’ struggles for identity in the white world; those things that create within black males vulnerability and susceptibility to sports lure. Secondly, they should recognize that commercialism reduces black athletes to commodities in a corporate structure that caters to the dominant group. Finally, they must never forget that, based on athletic talent, many black males are prone to exploitation by profit-seekers that would have them believing that materialism underlies happiness. With this in mind, it is important to heed Schmitt’s (2003) assertion: “When everyone is ← 179 | 180 → constantly urged to acquire a new material existence, everyone’s personality...

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