Kevin Lewis is a retired NFL linebacker.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

The Dream Comes with a Cost

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr's Dream was a vision of fair rules and fair play, refereed by executives of our peers. Statistics show our society considers sports to be the most nonracially biased sector of our country. If that's the case, Black Colleges have a lot of work to do. Once upon a time all of the Black movers and shakers, athletes and the sorts came from Historical Black Colleges and Universities or HBCU's. MLK didn't call for complete abandonment of his beloved Morehouse to opt instead for Harvard; he just wanted blacks to have Harvard as an option. For athletes, this story falls along the same line. Black athletes are courted from an early age by these huge predominately white colleges who speak about their educational achievements along with their state of the art campuses ,technological advances, dorms and of course athletic facilities. Many of us, after reading the last sentence, will just sit back in our chair and say, "of course they have that stuff. They have the money from the state or federal government and we get pennies." HBCU's receive monies as well, but what's not disclosed to the public is how many of predominately white Universities fundraise. When these schools need a new building, arena, weight room, track, sports complex, they fundraise. Heck, these schools begin to fundraise with new graduates about a month after graduation. How much do you give to your HBCU yearly? Schools have realized that football is king and in order to make huge profits, your schools football program must gain alumni and fan support. The easiest way for your football program to make money is to win, and then join a conference. The Big 10 made 22 million dollars per school last year because of their new Big10 television network. HBCU's football programs lack the support to consistently fill stadiums. For instance, FAMU now has to play Grambling and not Tennessee St in Atlanta due to TSU alumni and fans non commitment to their University. Also, Bethune Cookman Univeristy WIldcats went undefeated until the end of the season, yet couldn't completely sell out a game all year. ESPN has been more than courteous by placing HBCU football on tv even though these games haven't sold out. They're taking a loss, because these games are paid for by advertisers who sponsor games and buy commercial spots. Advertisers look for games with higher ratings to ensure high viewership.

Now at the same time, many black athletes are completely ignored by HBCU's. After speaking with many athletes and even looking on recruiting sites. The top athletes aren't even being offered scholarships by HBCU's. Coaches frankly feel that they have no chance in landing these athletes. Why? Facilities, TV contracts, these reasons can be addressed by HBCU alumni and fans. Start supporting your schools and quit saying the "U" or some other school has your favorite college team. MLK said, "In another dimension, an equally striking change is altering the Negro campuses. Not long ago the Negro collegian imitated the white collegian. In attire, in athletics, in social life, imitation was rule. He imitated with such energy that Gunnar Myrdal described the ambitious Negro as an "exaggerated American." Today the imitation has ceased. The Negro collegian now initiates." MLK has called on HBCU's to be leaders, to set trends and be innovators. No area can be neglected, not even in the sports realm. When we look to the number of opportunities given to Black coaches in professional and college ranks, you shouldn't complain. Almost 100% of the coaches at HBCU's are Black. Make the University programs better and more talented coaches will be discovered.      Now many black athletes are completely ignored by HBCU's.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

It’s A New Season

It's a new season. We have to play our best game of the year. It's us against the world. These are the mantras that begin to resonate through the locker-room. It's playoff time and every game is either bbq or mildew. The first things teams do is to become familiar with their personnel. Players want to know what their opponents' strengths and weaknesses are, and how they use them. Then coaches begin to lay out a game plan that will cause the opposition to have the most problems. They'll put more coverage in the back end to force a throwing team to run the ball more. Coaches will also put in a lot of deep balls and screens in their offense to counteract a defense that makes a living blitzing. Once game plans are implemented, the team breaks into groups by positions. At this time position coaches begin to teach the game plan through film study and players get to see what happens to their opponents when other teams have done the same things against them. After time has expired on film study practice begins. Players then move to the practice field and start to meld all of the information that's been giving to them together with their own unique style and abilities. Practices become very intense and much sharper. Leaders inspect all of the verbal and non-verbal language to ensure complete player focus. Coaches reframe from being on the attack because they never want to squash the confidence or create any doubt on the team. Once practice is over the team goes back to meeting rooms and begins to correct practice and breakdown more game film of their opponent. After film study is over most teams players leave the facility and go home. The teams with good leadership don't go home at this point. They usually stay and order dinner at the team facility or they go over one of their teammate's house to delve deeper into the game plan and their opponent. These teams realize they moniker, "you're only as strong as your weakest link." They understand that no matter how good they play, there's always another teammate that needs extra assistance. After the week comes to an end it's now time to strap on the pads and get to business. The teams begin to feed off of momentum and belief. The teams that remain constant under pressure will be the teams that will continue to advance to the Super Bowl. You will hear their players continue to make comments like, "we believed in ourselves," we knew we would make the play to win", and of course the old, "it took all three phases and our belief in each other to win this games.