Research Question: Why specifically in the African American community do males look for sports towards avenues of success? Although sports indeed keep many children out of trouble, and can help mold them into positive characters within the community, it can only suffice as a temporary goal that merely relies on physical ability. While the goal of playing a sport to hopefully gaining access to operate as professional athlete, the reality is, is that it can only reached by two percent of high school graduates. While the majority of impoverished students who use sports to make it out the “hood” spend their time solely on the extracurricular activities of sports and neglect the primary goal of attaining an education while being a student, this only results in a lack of education thus ousting them from the path to success in higher education.
In order to first under why such culture exists in the African American community, it is imperative to understand how such socializations occurred. In the article Are Sports Overemphasized in the Socialization Process of African American Males? A Qualitative Analysis of Former Collegiate Athletes’ Perception of Sport Socialization, the author Krystal K. Beamon argues that the over socialization of sports in African American communities comes from multiple factors that include the media, the actual community that individuals are subject to, and the imitation theory is what contributes to the influence of young black males to actively pursue sports rather than academics. (Beamon, 296) What this article has proved thus far in my research is that the African American community keeps recreating such ideologies thus perpetuating the stigma of how African American’s can achieve success. Although this provides a cultural analysis as to why sports are such a faction in the community, what my research aims to do is to pull in the context as to why such realities exists.
To understand the contextual framework as to how African American have been socialized, it is important to understand the black psyche and its relation to the world of academia. In the article Increasing African Americans’ Participation in Higher Education: African American High-School Students’ Perspectives, the author Kassie Freeman argues that while there is an evident correlation of economics of education in regards to success in the academic world, cultural capital that school systems don’t provide make a great deal in the choice of African Americans choosing to excel in academics. Additionally, the author continues to claim that in order to change the perception of education in the black community, there needs to be an active interest in providing information in regards to achieving access to higher education at an earlier stage in their development rather than just exposing them to these ideals in only high school. With knowing such information, one can see the results of early guidance and proper mentoring and its importance in influencing the perception of achieving an education further than that of just a high school diploma.
With such understanding of how school systems work in regards to providing resources to African Americans, it is important to continuously understand how this barrier affects the black psyche and the ways in which African Americans deal with such realities. In the article Gender and Race Patterns in the Pathways from Sport Participation to Self-Esteem, the authors Allison J. Tracy and Sumru Erkut argue that participation in sports help increase the self-esteem of those who participate in such extracurricular. More importantly, the authors found that African American boys had the highest level of self -esteem out of the tested subjects in regards to the improvement of the overall sense of wellbeing. Additionally, the authors argue that out of the test groups that the positive effect of the test arising from such physical capabilities contributed to the construction and idealization of their masculinity. (Tracy et al, 459) As a result, because African American men are hyper-masculinized in America, this striking ideal influences young African American boys to pursue masculinity in terms of creating a sense of male identity whereas their Caucasian counterparts earn additional self esteem in acquiring educational opportunities.
With such information, it is clear as to how African Americans males are influenced to pursue goals oriented around masculinity. W.E.B Du Bois argues in his book, Souls Of Black Folk, that African Americans suffer an inferiority complex that is essentially hidden sub-consciously. Because this is partly due to the disconnection of self-identity as a result of slavery, the continuous physiological affects that linger in racialized institutions still alienates the self-esteem of African Americans. Conclusively, because of this factor, African American males must rely on their masculinity to lessen their inferiority complex that has accumulated over the past four hundred years in order to find success. With such knowledge, a question that I ask is that will there ever be a ground that will give African Americans an equal chance in succeeding outside of physical labor.
Beaman, K.K. (2009). “Are sports overemphasized in the socialization process of African-American males? A qualitative analysis of former collegiate athletes’ perception of sport socialization.” Journal of Black Studies, Vol.41, No.2 , 281-300.
Freeman,Kassie. “Increasing African Americans’ Participation in Higher Education: African American High-School Students’ Perspectives.” The Journal of Higher Education. Vol.68, No. 5 (September-October., 1997) , pp. 523-550
Tracy, Allison J. Erkut, Sumru. “Gender and Race Patterns in the Pathways from Sport Participation to Self-Esteem.” Sociological Perspectives. Vol.45, No.4 (Winter 2002), pp. 445-466