Saturday, July 7, 2007

Oh, the irony...

It was a weird day. June 28, 2007 and I’m looking forward to the NBA draft and all the craziness that goes down between teams, with trades—you take this guy for me and I’ll take that guy for you—unexpected picks, and always a few WTFs in there, too. Even when watching on TV you can feel the nervous energy in the room running through both players and their families and friends. This year, I couldn’t wait to hear who Atlanta would select with the 3rd and the 11th pick. That’s a team whose fans have truly suffered through some horrendous years and strange draft picks and trades. I was hoping that this would be the year that the team would finally select the right players to add to a young talented squad led by Joe Johnson and the high-flying Josh Smith. A low post player (Al Horford) and a play-making point guard (Acie Law IV) would certainly have the potential to round out this Hawks team and finally bring some excitement to the ATL. And of course there’s the Heat, my favorite team. Who will Riley and Pfund select with the 20th pick to inject some youth into this geriatric, uninspired team? Will a point guard with the ability to be a rotation player this year, be available? Or how about one of the talented wing players; would one of them for whatever reason drop down to number 20? So many questions to be answered on that night.

So, while I’m watching the preliminaries on ESPN, I’m doing my usual flipping back and forth to the news channels—CNN, Link TV, MSNBC—and I see scrolling at the bottom of the screen that the Supreme Court, in their final decision to end this year’s court session, has voted 5-4 to effectively bring to an end the Brown v. Board of Education decision, which more than 50 years ago sought to end segregation in public schools. The landmark decision which held the promise of quality education for every child and the subsequent opening of economic opportunities previously afforded only to whites. The decision given in the two cases—Parents Involved in Community Schools Inc. v. Seattle School District and Meredith v. Jefferson County (Ky.) Board of Education—brought to an end two programs in Seattle, Washington and Louisville, Kentucky that attempted to maintain diversity in public high schools by using race as one of several factors to determine school assignments. In both cases, the school districts’ policies were intended to maintain integrated schools in the face of racially segregated neighborhoods.
(A good place to start for more thorough analysis of the decision and it’s potential impact: http://www.naacpldf.org/content.aspx?article=1181)

You know that little head drop to your chest that you do when a player on the opposing team drops a 3 on your team right at the buzzer to win the game? Do you know that feeling? Do you? That’s exactly what I felt when I heard this decision. Well, I’ll be damned!

So, I turn back to the draft coverage and Portland is on the clock and we all know who’s gonna be the pick and I am so happy for Greg Oden and his family and damn, this shit is really sinking in now. These young men and their families are but 60 of the thousands and thousands of kids and their families that have hoop dreams because they’ve really had very little choice but to dream of athletic success. Many come from neighborhoods in the U.S. urban centers whose public schools have been de facto segregated for the past two decades, with very poor resources, over-crowded classrooms, over-worked teachers and administrators, dilapidated facilities, and the general malaise of the politicians mandated to do something about this reality. What kind of education can possibly go on in such conditions? What kind of opportunities can kids attending these schools dream about? No child left behind. Really?

Then the irony hits—this year’s draft was the first one after the League’s decision to force youngster’s to wait one year after graduating high school to enter the draft, the stated assumption being that these players would spend at least one year in college. I won’t argue here the pros and cons of the league’s decision. I’ll save that for another post. But what seems significant to me is the fact that the reasoning behind this decision by the league has more to do with “seasoning” a player—so that the “quality” of the NBA product doesn’t decrease—than it does with any concern that the player benefit from the educational environment that attendance at one of the nation’s colleges or universities presents, and indeed critics (particularly those administrators and coaches from the collegiate ranks) have argued that this decision is bad, very bad for college sports programs. Coaches know that the most talented kids will only play one year for the program before bolting for the NBA, making these coaches in essence assembly-line foremen, recruiting the next young talent to keep their programs winning. And though I am sure there are some who are committed to getting a degree, how many of these young men really commit themselves to furthering their education, when the education they’ve received to this point hasn’t equipped them with the basic tools necessary to compete in college classrooms?

So, I’m watching the NBA draft on June 28, 2007 and I hear some talking head go on about
Morris Almond of Rice University and that he’s a senior and he is a little too old (!) and too close to his prime and that he shouldn’t have stayed in school so long and he’s truly a “student-athlete” and somehow that’s a bad thing because it “dropped his stock”. WTF!! What’s wrong with this picture, when a young man can’t have “hoop dreams” and “degree dreams” at the same time? It was a weird day.


8 comments:

Anonymous said...

Cheryl, good to read your blog, finally!! Our SLAM girl grows up! (in content) Great blog, nice comparison, looking forward to the next one! Make sure you check mine, coming soon! eboy

Max Airington said...

Hi. I like. Im sorry you have to live in a town called Plantation. I'll be back.

Anonymous said...

Max, I know! It keeps me on my toes, reminding me that we are all still "on the plantation" and need to not get comfortable. --ASPOV

CoCo said...

Very well said. Check out this sistah's point of view sometime.

white hot eboy said...

Only one of the SLAM guys could put that out there! Max, that's f*ked up! Laugh out loud funny, but f*ked up! Plantation ain't that bad, especially if you keep going west to Sawgrass Mills!

Nothin_personal said...

Well, it's all about the system, you can't fight free-market rules. Teams wxpect to get specialize workers, not well rounded individuals. Great post, though.

kavodel said...

Wow. Quite Good. Very good read.

Rianne said...

Great work.