Graduation Gap Between Black and White College Football Players Persists

A new study explores the reasons for racial disparity in graduate rates among college football players.

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More often than not, student-athletes, particularly those in high-profile football programs, are recruited by colleges because of their athletic prowess, not their academic talent. But why do black football players have a lower graduation rate? The graduation gap between white and black collegiate athletes has widened from 19 percent last year to 20 percent this year, according to a recent study of college football players participating in bowl games. Although the overall graduation rate for student-athletes participating in football bowl games has increased since last year’s study, the racial gap is still troubling. "That the gap increased rather than decreased is particularly disappointing," Richard Lapchick told the Orlando Sentinel. "The fact that the disparity is bigger now than 2009 is cause for trying to figure out what we need to do to narrow the gap." How early drafts recruits are counted in the study is ultimately flawed. Student-athletes in good academic standing who leave school early for the NFL are not counted. However, draftees in poor academic standing are counted, which distorts the figures, creating a faulty average. Add to that, the problem of school officials not treating athletes as students only reinforces low expectations for performance in the classroom. In the competitive arena of sports, athletes are commodities, mascots, evoking images of stereotypical black men as bucks. It’s well known that some school officials have looked the other way in enforcing academic standards when it comes to collegiate athletes, particularly those of color. The expectations from college athletes are many: frequent travel, regular practice, and an awful lot of pressure to get the win, which adds money and celebrity to the university. To parents of young athletes: Have you seen Jerry McGuire? Show me the Money! If your son or daughter is being pimped, make sure the school is at least helping them graduate so it can be a mutual arrangement.

Read more at the Orlando Sentinel.

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