Thabiti Lewis is an author and associate professor of English at Washington State University Vancouver.  His writings have appeared in The Source, The St. Louis Post-Dispatch, AmeriQuests, NewsONe.com, and Arts & Opinion.  He been a radio host and newspaper columnist commenting on culture, race, and sports for over a decade.

In his book Ballers of the New School: Race and Sports in AMerica, he solidifies his reputation as a leading intellectual figure–one unafraid to ask hard questions about America’s favorite past times, the high stakes associated with them, and who ultimately benefits and who loses.


3 Responses to About

  1. Rick Russell says:

    Professor Lewis,

    I write to comment on your article entitled “The Heavy Burdens of Black College Athletes” in the Summer 2010 edition of The Crisis.

    Your conclusion is graduation rates “cannot improve any time soon without aggressive, creative action from community organizations and parents to force secondary schools, the NCAA and the universities to uphold their missions, which is education first and foremost.”

    Missing from your article is any responsibility for the athletes themselves. Or responsibility by their parents in preparing them prior to college. I am not a defender of the NCAA, but don’t the students, their parents, extended family and community bear some responsibility? Even perhaps, the primary responsibility.

    I pose these questions as the only one in my family to have gone to college. I was an athlete, albeit in a “minor” sport, at a major university. Each of my children attended college and competed in Div. 1 athletics.

    I don’t totally subscribe to the notion that because I, and my children, could do something, then anyone can do something. But I am troubled with the notion that my children, and me as a parent, as well as other children and their children, bear no responsibility, or at least responsibility mentioned in your article.

    • thabitilewis says:

      You are correct that the family and athletes have a responsibility. In fact, I broach this in one of my six points. Leaders and parents are key. If parents are emphasizing preparation then the students will take responsibility. Thank you for your comments.

    • thabitilewis says:

      So very sorry for the late response to your comments about my “The Heavy Burdens” essay. I will say that with more direction from mentors the athletes will organically take more responsibility. We tell kids what is important. Currently the business of collegiate sports tells kids that the student part of the student/athlete moniker is secondary. The focus is on them remaining eligible to play. Universities would prefer that they score touchdowns and baskets rather than scoring high grades that might sacrifice how many touchdowns and baskets they score.
      So, by no means was I suggesting that students do not have a responsibility, my point is that the system in place makes it difficult for them to do so. In fact, they risk losing the annually renewable scholarship if their academic desires compromise their academic performance.
      Let us be real: too many of these kids are unprepared to enter universities but this does not mean they are not capable of success once there. My point was that we have to attack educational institutions and the ideology of education first in junior high and high school. If they are inculcated on these levels to value education and assume responsibility then they will navigate the collegiate level better.

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