From elementary school on up, many students are taught that maintaining high grades in school would be a free ticket to college.
For many students that is true.
But why does it seem like athletes get better offers from more prestigious schools than scholars?
The salutatorian of my high school class sat on pins and needles waiting for an acceptance letter from Vanderbilt University.
When he did get accepted, he was heartbroken to find that his 4.0 GPA and 1500 plus SAT score did not warrant a full academic scholarship. Needless to say, he couldn’t afford to pay the remaining tuition.
The next year, one of the school’s standout football players was almost stalked by the same Vanderbilt University.
They flew him to the school to visit, offered him an all-expense-paid athletic scholarship and even agreed to fly him home every off-weekend to visit his sick sister.
By the way, he made a 750 on the SAT.
Of course I’m not blind to the fact that these universities generate huge amounts of money by the games that these students play, but what does that say about the universities and our society at large?
How many college athletes do you know who went on to be doctors, teachers, engineers, or other occupations crucial to our society?
Less than half of black college athletes even graduate at all! So, why do they get all the acclaim and prestige?
We often worry about black children when they tell us that they want to be an NBA or NFL star when they grow up, but honestly they aren’t receiving any messages from universities or the media that they are valued as anything more.
Strictly being smart just will not cut it anymore.
Sure, you might get into some schools, but the choice universities are usually reserved for those who can make them money now, not for those who will contribute in the future.
This is why I believe HBCUs are so important to our community.
We can’t expect anyone to value us if we don’t value ourselves. I know that at FAMU, educating black people has been the goal from the beginning, and it continues even today.
I’m sure no one expects FAMU to produce the next Heisman Trophy winner or the next NBA rookie of the year, but we do have some outstanding non-athletic black graduates to boast about. That should be our school and community’s crowning achievement.
Samantha Long is a sophomore broadcast journalism student from Atlanta. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.