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Standing Out As Student-Athletes

Standing Out As Student-Athletes

College sports are huge! And at no time throughout the year is that as evident as during March Madness. There are articles written and statistics generated about the impact the NCAA men’s basketball tournament has on worker productivity. One article I read said the tournament will cost U.S. employers $1.2 billion in lost productivity. Another said the tournament actually helps boost morale among the reported 57 percent of employees that participate in office pools. There’s even software that will automate the tournament pools for you. Who knew? I use these as examples not to shine a light on betting on college sports but rather to illustrate the excitement that it generates.

College sports are truly an American pastime. As a result, the time and effort that student-athletes put into their respective sports requires serious dedication. Think of the juggling that is required of students who do not even play a sport but have a full course load. It’s not easy.
So I’m always amazed by those student-athletes who hold it all together and excel academically and athletically. 

You’ll read about two such students — junior DeCarol Davis and senior Isaac Matthews — who were chosen among approximately 600 students as our 2007 Female and Male Arthur Ashe Sports Scholars of the Year, respectively.

In the article “In a League of Her Own,” Diverse correspondent Saira Moini profiles Davis, who plays basketball at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy and maintains a cumulative 3.95 GPA in electrical engineering.

“They [parents] allowed me the freedom to develop my own thoughts, yet made it clear that succeeding in school was my ‘job.’ So I’ve always felt the need to prove myself,” Davis says.

In “Shattering Stereotypes,” Diverse senior writer David Pluviose profiles Matthews, a senior track and field athlete at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, who discusses the inherent conflict that many Black males feel about being a good student versus being a good athlete. It troubles him that so many young men feel like the two are mutually exclusive.

“It’s something you face just because of the social construction of our nation and even the world,” says Matthews, who maintains a cumulative 3.88 GPA in mechanical engineering. “There are more Black doctors than there are basketball players, but you don’t see the image that ‘OK, you should go be doctors.’ You see the image of ‘You make quick money’ playing basketball.”

Also in our feature lineup, doing away with American Indian mascots has generated lots of media attention over the past few years. Contributing editor Mary Annette Pember reports on how money, power and influence play a significant role in decisions regarding the use of these symbols in “Farewell to the Chief.” In “The Other Club Scene,” correspondent Noah Davis reports on how club sports bring together students from diverse backgrounds to participate in a shared passion, from marathon running to yoga. And editorial sports assistant Frank J. Matthews conducts a Q&A with Bill Lester, the first Black driver to race in NASCAR’s top stock car series in 20 years.

Hilary Hurd Anyaso

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American sport has always served as a platform for resistance and has been measured and critiqued by how it responds in critical moments of racial and social crises.
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A New Track: Fostering Diversity and Equity in Athletics