African-American athletes have been a controversial topic in recent sports media and news.
The 2013 Heisman Trophy recipient Jameis Winston, who became the first freshman quarterback to win the BCS National Championship, was accused of sexually assaulting a female Florida State University student Dec. 7, 2012. The case was later dismissed due to lack of evidence.
According to ABC News, the FSU star quarterback said the case has taught him to be “more mature.”
Winston is the spark of the Seminoles Football team. Even before the courageous comeback in the last minutes of the Florida State and Auburn championship game, he led his team to an undefeated season as a freshman and finally to the team’s first championship since 1999.
Can you give a young 19-year-old credit or respect for these accomplishments, which represent not only his family’s legacy, but the institution’s as well? These trials and tribulations show the perseverance and determination of a man to overcome the odds placed against him.
Instead, black athletes are often ridiculed when faced with adversity and are often required to exceed unfairly high expectations before they have their legacies solidified.
As we observe Black History Month, it is safe to say these athletes have set the tempo and economic development of how companies market their products to the masses.
Companies such as Nike and Adidas endorse these athletes with multi-million dollar contracts to advertise their brand of sneakers and athletic wear to various demographics.
Former National Basketball Association Commissioner David Stein increased the revenue of the NBA by 500 percent, saving the company from near bankruptcy in 1984.
With key athletes such as Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Shaquille O’ Neal, Kobe Bryant and LeBron James being the cash crops for the NBA’s revenue, ticket sales and endorsement has turned the NBA into a company worth more than $5 billion.
Fredrick Douglass said “Without struggle there can be no progress.”
Can you respect the diligent work of these athletes? The majority of these athletes are not from a high social class and have endured the circumstances and odds that faced them.
Rejection isn’t meant to disappoint or discourage an individual but strengthen his faith and character. It grants him the ability to measure and test his potential and resiliency in facing the obstacles ahead.
If you have passion for anything you will martyr to its cause. Everyone will not like the image of what they feel you should be, but to defer these thoughts, you must kill negative images with actions. Actions display effort.
One thing I wonder is, with all the different challenges these athletes may face in the pursuit to become positive role models to inner-city children, which is more important: sleep or a good work ethic?
It is easy to work and earn your living and settle for the fruits of your labor than invest in your community to uplift a movement bigger than the role you play as an individual. It is a hard road to face as we observe Black History Month, but without struggle there can be no progress.