By Willie Alex Hines
There have been discussions in the past couple of years asking the question: What if more of our elite athletes chose HBCUs to play college sports?
NBA star Chris Paul, who attended Wake Forest, has been one of the biggest cheerleaders wanting to see this. Journalist, Jemele Hill, has been saying what if a group of elite athletes decided to go HBCUs? Chris Broussard, another journalist, has also mused about more African-American players taking their talents to HBCUs.
It’s interesting that a future NBA Hall of Famer and two of the most established African-American writers would openly express their opinions about this.
But some uninformed people say they don’t want their children to play sports at an HBCU.
In one of his podcasts titled “Million Dollaz Worth of Game” the Philly Rapper Gilla da Kid is quoted as saying; “If that was my [expletive] son, he wouldn’t be goin’ to [expletive] Howard University, man.” Gilla believes that the Bison’s lack of television exposure would negatively affect his theoretical child’s NBA draft position.
Dwyane Wade has made similar statements saying that while it was a good gesture for Makur Maker to decide to attend Howard University, the university’s facilities and lack of TV time could hurt Maker. Wade said HBCUs need to be given more exposure. Maker politely responded that playing in high school gyms didn’t keep the NBA from finding Kobe or LeBron. Moses Malone went straight from Petersburg High School into the pros. If you can play; they know where to find you. Good point.
Before all of this business of college sports, I wonder how kids were found. Shannon Sharpe, who is on FOX Undisputed was drafted in the 7th Round in 1990 from Savannah State. Robert Mathis, Tarik Cohen, Darius Leonard, Ben Wallace, Charles Oakley, and Robert Covington are some other well known names who made it to the pros without playing at big schools.
It’s amazing that people who never attended, or know very little about HBCUs, are the main ones who have negative things to say. They don’t do anything to help lift our HBCUs and are the first ones to be critical or doubt these schools. Here’s a suggestion: If you want to help lift them from the dirt — quoting Dwyane Wade here — then promote the schools and find ways with your celebrity status and money to help them.
No, HBCU sports programs do not have the money or exposure to offer our kids that some other programs might. But they will have a culture that will help set the child up for success not only in athletics, but in the most import game of life. The schools have a culture that allows the young people to be themselves in an environment where they are valued. And most importantly, the athletes will receive an education that is on par and, perhaps better, than what a predominately white institution will offer.
Parents, please, stop getting caught up in the trinkets and the glitz and glamour that the PWIs may offer your child. As it is always said, if you are good, no matter where you are, they will find you.