Sports and Culture

Today is the last day that I will be in this class but will continue with this website.

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Coaches vs. Graduation Rates

It is needless to say that many students want to go and decide to go to college during their high school years. These students maybe just students or student-athletes. As these students decide in a sport that they enjoy earlier on in life, they want to pursue that sport through school and play for their school. You try out for the team and you make it or you don’t. Then do the same thing again and again until middle or high school sports is over. During the high school years of playing, the athletes are waiting to be scouted for the sport and are trying to juggle the academics part of their high school career. They manage to do that then move on to college.

I have always been told that college is a different experience and is a lot more challenging than high school. However, that doesn’t affect my decisions on whether I am going or not, but thats not the point. The student athletes in high school end up playing in college.Now thats at least four years or more depending on the major and the college, but either way there is still athletes. There is something happening in these athletes life that some may see and others may not.

Every student at a college that plays a sport loves it. They love representing their school and the families that come out to see and the roaring crown in the stadium. Yea, thats all very great. But during the season and the games and the work outs and ALL the practicing that needs to be done to win, where does academics play a role. Obviously with less academics that results in less graduates. Thats the problem.

This problem lays mainly on the NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) football teams and the basketball teams. Focusing more on basketball the graduation rates and the theories behind them are ridiculous. However these rates have grown over the past ten years. VERY slowly though. Now, whether you watch college basketball on television or attend games or follow teams or do none of that, you should still care about the students.

A study done in 2002 showed that mens basketball graduation rates did not exceed 46 percent since six years before that. Thats sort of shocking, well not really. Thats just a quick little preview for the years to come. But the bottom line and the reasons for this, in my opinion starts with the coaches.

When coaches are out scouting they mention the educational opportunity at that specific college. Thats great and all but later on that little thought he mentioned earlier fades away. This thought seems to fade as soon as those players become a part of their basketball program. Once the player is a part of the program it’s all for the coaches or its for nothing. What I mean by that is coaches want the players to do their best to make them look good, well and to win of

North Carolina and head coach Roy Williams, center, celebrate a victory in the championship game at the men's NCAA Final Four college basketball tournament

course. Winning. Thats a deep thought. Have you ever considered how much time and effort coaches put into their players to make the team win? It’s a lot. But have you considered how much time the players spend making this happen for their coaches.

Coaches spend hours upon hours creating plans and training sessions and workouts and possibly foods to eat for the players. In return, the players spend hours upon hours working these plans and training sessions in the gym and on the court. Over and over again coaches tell their players, “if you put your heart and soul into these practices and games you can make it into the NBA.” Of course these players are going to give one hundred and fifty percent because they have a mind-set of making it to the NBA. With that in mind only a few players actually make it that far and fifteen players selected since 1997 were underclassmen. This brings back the issue of academics. Well the players can’t focus on these academics because they spend their every waking moment in the gym. This causes them to miss classes or not do work or both. This doesn’t apply to every single college out there. There are many with very good student athletes and have a very high graduation rate. These qualities are mostly found in the Patriot League.

The Patriot League is a separate league of college teams that may mix in a game or two with the normal college teams. There are eight Patriot League men’s basketball teams. There is one very important factor that separates these two leagues drastically. This just so happens to be education. Is it hard to believe that in this world a coach could actually enforce the thought studying?Well not for these eight schools. Education is by far the number one priority in these students minds and the coaches enforce that. Before a game the coach may say, “Fella’s if we win, we win, if we don’t then thats fine to, have fun and I can deal without winning, I can’t deal with you guys falling behind in school.” Thats a great pre-game statement. And it is true. Players in this league play the game of basketball simply for the game and it shows in their performance. On the other hand, they are in classes regularly and actually have a standard rule that if a player does not have a grade point average above a 3.0 they can’t play. This is not the case for the regular NCAA basketball teams.

For those colleges, your lucky if your coach looks at a transcript. They only need players not students. But there is a problem with that. These players came to the college to play and get an education, these coaches do not enforce that. I maybe wrong there maybe a few that can contradict my thinking and thats fine but I am talking about the majority. These coaches have one concern and thats winning. But what they don’t realize is that they are actually hurting these players futures.

These players spend so much time in the gyms that they forget school work like I have stated before. But when the season is over and the NBA career only calls a few people then what happens to the rest. They all stand there and have no idea what to do with themselves. They wasted away the semester practicing and not doing their work that when the season is over they don’t have the high enough grades to graduate. Now they don’t know what to do. No basketball, no school graduation, where do they go? As you can see the coaches brain wash the players by telling them they can make it big and leave them falling short by not supporting the education.

So in my opinion and im sure im speaking for others, ATTENTION COACHES! Start helping your players instead or hurting them.

Quick link on one way actions are being taken on this situation

Althea Gibson

Growing up as a child, you tend to follow what your parents do and don’t do. You would expect them to make things happen for you so you yourself don’t have to do it.  As you grow up kids may make bad decisions and turn to someone, to look up to, as an idol if you will. There is a woman who encountered many problems as a child and decided to make something of herself that other kids can look up to. This woman is Althea Gibson. Gibson (african american) was part of an african american family. She was born August 25, 1927  in Silver, SC. Even though she was born in South Carolina, Gibson grew up in Harlem, New York City. Growing up Gibson had a passion for sports and played sports regularly. However, being african american at that time was very difficult due to the separation of colors and Gibson often faced discrimination. As we learn about many athletes today, we learn that the majority did have problems as a child. Gibson can be added to the list. She faced problems in school, her family was on welfare, and she almost regularly ran away from home. I’m sure we have all heard about a kid running away and going back home and not doing it again…But to do it regularly??? Wherever she went she always came back.    

Gibson is a sports player. She played golf, basketball, and even table tennis. Gibsons love for table tennis won her tournaments. A specific person that would change her life watched a few of her games. This person is a musician named Buddy Walker and he noticed how well she was at table tennis and he is the man who introduced Gibson to regular tennis at the Harlem River Tennis Courts. Then a man physician named  Dr. Walter Johnson started training her. All theses things were going on and she went along with them due to her passion for table tennis and her urge to try standard tennis. Because of tennis, growing up, Gibson moved a few times.  In 1946 she moved to Wilmington, North Carolina for tennis training and at the age of twenty she had already won ten consecutive national championships run by the American Tennis Association (ATA). Three years later she was able to participate in the 1950 US championship. Throughout all the moving and playing and training she continued her education. In 1953 she graduated from Florida A&M University on a tennis and basketball scholarship. After graduation she went to Jefferson City, Missouri to work at Lincoln University as an athletic instructor.   

Once the color barrier had been broken, Gibson then started playing against the best of the best all around the world. In ’56 she won the Italian championship and the next year won her first Grand Slam title and captured the French Championship. Then won the US championship and along with that was announced Associated Press Female Athlete of the year. Gibson was also ranked in the world top ten from 1956-1958. Then in 1964 she became the first african american woman to play in the Ladies Professional Golf Association but was only there a few years. Then in 1971 she was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame and was appointed the New Jersey state commissioner of Athletics. She worked there for ten years.  Gibson is an incredible woman is she not? All the accomplishments and obstacles she had to over come.   

However, in 1991 she encountered an obstacle she overcame but would affect her forever.  In 1991 she had a stroke. And since tennis players made no money during the time she played, she was living off of welfare and couldn’t afford to pay for medication. Then twelve years later (2003) Gibson died in New Jersey due to respiratory failure.   

Althea Gibson was sometimes refered to as the ” Jackie Robinson of tennis” because Gibson was the first colored woman to play professional tennis. And for all her accomplishments and winnings, at the beginning of the 2007 US Open she was inducted into the US Open Court of Champions and 2009 inductee of the New Jersey Hall of Fame.This day was the 50th anniversary of Gibsons victory and the US championship.    

Everyday people may impact their society or surroundings everyday. Sports players impact the fans and make history   

(Althea during the 1956 Goodwill Tour)

and that history may make some sort of impact. Gibson on the other hand created an impact that will be in effect for a long time. There is always the stories of how players had it bad growing up and had to fight for what they wanted to achieve. Thats great and all, but Gibson created a foundation to help those in that situation. The Althea Gibson foundation was created to encourage and provide financial aid to the urban youth that wish to develop skills in golf or tennis. This foundation was also created to help improve the social condition of urban america. All the athletes today that do work for charities and have fun and get out and communicate with kids is great by all means. I wouldn’t doubt that they do it out of their hearts, but how many athletes start an organization. Like i stated before, many fund and support organizations, but there are only a handful of people like Althea Gibson that actually start something to make a difference.  

Gibson made a huge impact mainly to help others. However there were more than one african american tennis players at the time of Gibson. Ora Mae Washington was born on January 23, 1898. There were many african american sports players but Gibson was one of the first to make something of her talent. Washington played before Gibson and during the same time as Gibson. Washington was part of the ATA and within that association won championships between 1925 and 1936. Washington, like Gibson was not just a tennis player. Washington took part in playing as well as coaching womans basketball. Other african american tennis players consist of Katrina Adams and Leslie Allen. Allen is very important because she was the first african american woman to win a tennis tournament since Gibson.  

There have been many african american tennis players to this day like the very famous Serena Williams and her sister. Records have been set and broken again and again. I’m sure the athletic tennis players today know about and probably admire the things that past african american tennis players have done such as Althea Gibson and Ora Mae Washington, and everything they have accomplished they deserve.

Can Jimmy Johnson Do it Again Next Season?

I can easily say Jimmy Johnson is a talented driver and knows the sport. However, Nascar like any other sport, has teams. These arent big teams but they consist of three maybe four main drivers. The main drivers that drive with Johnson are Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt Jr. Now, me being a die hard Earnhardt Sr. fan, I was disappointed to see Jr. leave. It is actually a funny situation because as these drivers are together, their cars are similarly made, and Johnson destroys them both. Johnson has won the championship again and neither of them had the chance. Is he just that good?Johnson has a talent and will he be able to be on top again next season?We will have to see on February 7 when the season begins.

Sunday 12/6 Football

The Eagles came out on top against the Falcons and Michael Vick’s former team…Which im sure gave him more ambition to score those two touchdowns for the Eagles. With the Cowboys losing to the Giants, that  just helps the Eagles move up on the charts. So thank you Cowboys!

Who Will Go and Where?

If you didnt know I was a Cleveland Cavaliers fan, I am. I watch almost all their games and if i miss one i watch clips on ESPN. Lebron puts on a show, does he not?No he does. He is a player that steps up when he needs to and a star that involves the rest of his team. Now don’t get me wrong I like Kobe. I think he is also a great player and that why I think when they match up, it’s the most interesting to watch.  Right now the season is winding down and me as well as other basketball fans hate to see it end but are also excited to see who will go to what team or who stays. At the end of this season Lebron will be a free agent and Kobe can opt to be a free agent. Will Kobe?…..We don’t know. Where will Lebron go?The Cavs are his team it would be a shame to see him leave but its his decision as Kobe has the same choice. Kobe ended up losing money in his contract but will Kobe leave for more money since he has the choice? That will be the two pick-ups of the next season with out a doubt. As a Cavaliers fan I would hate to see Lebron or Kobe leave their teams because I look for the match up.

Lebron v. Kobe Who is Better?

Money & Yankees

This money watches over the Yankees who are #1.