Urban Myth Busters: Black Men Only Excel In Football, Basketball or Track

African American males do extremely well in these areas…But can they have the same level of success in other sports?

By: Taren Vaughan

For years, African American males have found huge amounts of success in the field of sports. And for many of them, their true niche lies on the gridiron or on the hardwood floor of a gymnasium. Finding an incredible basketball player, football player or track runner amongst a population of Black men is not a hard task at all. They are all over the place. And unless something changes drastically, it will always be that way. As African American men generally gravitate towards these sports, does that necessarily mean that they can not achieve high in other areas of athletics? Is it possible that a Black man could do more than jump hurdles, dunk a basketball or tackle somebody?

One name…Arthur Ashe.

Arthur Ashe was the first Black male tennis player to ever win the singles title at Wimbledon, the US Open, or Australian Open and still currently holds that title. This phenomenal tennis player accomplished a number of things both on and off the court. As a Civil Rights leader, Ashe traveled to South Africa to fight for racial integration and was heavily involved in politics. But his reign as a tennis pro came to an end in 1993 when he tragically died from a disease that has taken the lives of millions of people across the world, AIDS. Ashe reportedly got the disease from a blood transfusion that he underwent during heart surgery.

African Americans still hold high rankings in the tennis category thanks to the dynamic sister duo of Venus and Serena Williams, who continue to break long standing records each year. It is heart warming to see Serena and Venus do their thing but it would be even more wonderful to see another brother pick up where Mr. Ashe left off.

Tennis is one thing. But how well do Black men fair in the water?

Swimmer Anthony Ervin seems to handle the water just fine as he became the first male of African American descent to make the USA Olympic Swimming Team. As a member, he received a gold medal in the men’s 50m freestyle. He also was on the silver medal winning men’s 4 x 100m freestyle relay. Ervin further set the tone for other Black male swimmers with Cullen Jones becoming the second African American man to do that.

Thought brothers had a fear of the pool? Yet another myth has been busted.

Speed skater Shani Davis became the first Black athlete to win a gold medal in an individual Winter Games sport (1,000 m) and was the first to defend his title in the 2010 Winter Olympics. Davis’ win was the most notable achievement of an African American male in the Winter Olympics since the Jamaican Bobsled team. Since his win, he has appeared on the cover of magazines, gone on several interviews and changed the face of Winter Olympics for years to come. Throw Tiger Woods in the mix also as he has single handedly taken over the game of golf period, despite his personal issues off the green.

So as you can see, our brothers are very talented in more areas than they are often given credit for. Yes, it is a known fact that Black men are in a league of their own when it comes to basketball, football and track. Their natural speed, quickness and the ability to grasp the fundamentals behind playing these sports allows them to do so with perfection. But why must they be limited to just these sports? It’s obvious that they can be great in other areas so why not encourage them to do so?

The years of the Black man as just the ball player or the track star are long gone.

Are basketball, football and track the only sports that African American men excel in?

Judging from these men, that is definitely a myth that I am glad to see proven false.


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