Think Beyond Sports This Summer for Black Boys. : ThyBlackMan

Sunday, December 8, 2019

Think Beyond Sports This Summer for Black Boys.

May 23, 2019 by  
Filed under News, Opinion, Sports, Tech/Internet, Weekly Columns

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( Summer time is just about among us and that means finding the kids something to do. Activities about the neighborhood, summer reading programs, Vacation Bible School, summer school, family trips, apprenticeships, volunteering, and yes, sports.

Sports: The Undefeated King of Summer

I’m sure many of us have done a number or all of these activities in our young summers. For me, it was mainly summer reading programs. Plus, you had to consider those reading lists that teachers figured you would do when you had two months and change to actually enjoy.

It’s not that reading was boring and “Ugh, do I have to do this during the summer when I do it all school year.” It’s just that the lists usually had some dry stuff to read. Never mind that. One activity that gets the most love—besides a trip to an amusement park or the swimming pool—is sports. You can enroll your kids in sports or they will find a group to play something with on their own.

At least we usually did as a kid. There’s always basketball going on somewhere, after all. My father pushed me towards basketball and football. I was indifferent towards football even though it was his favorite and its massive here in Alabama. By middle school, I hated it. I was always more partial to basketball but being a husky kid—remember when “husky” was a size—people often wanted me to try out for football or asked who I played for.

Beyond Sports For Black Boys

My thing was always art, technology, and writing. I loved to draw, loved to create worlds and characters, enjoyed doing dialogue between them, and I adapted to the internet earlier than a lot of my classmates. That was all thanks to summer programs at the library.

In 1994 and 1995, the internet was just becoming commercially accessible. Computers had been put in classrooms in the early 90s and the internet was this new frontier. The public library allowed those of us interested to use computers and access the internet. Those who showed a real affinity and fondness for both would get the opportunity to learn basic webpage design.

The library also offered chess and art classes. What was important was having parents who valued education over athletics. If we wanted to pursue sports, that was fine but my parents—especially my mother—wanted her kids to be brilliant. So, most of our summers were at the library doing chess, navigating the internet, doing creative activities, and reading.

Sounds boring, right? Some folks would say it’s hard to pitch that to young Black boys. If their friends are outside doing some of everything or they have access to online gaming, you might just have a case. The library just doesn’t sound appealing. In a way, it’s the classroom without a bell system.

Getting Him There

You could make home a haven for summer learning and skill building. Sure, they might have their game console there as well but chop up the day for them. The whole “selling him on this” thing comes into play. You’ll either have to make it interesting to the point they don’t feel or know that they’re actually learning or incentivize it.

Both can be difficult to do. On one hand, you’ll need an actual incentive. It could be a trip somewhere or time on their game console or watching shows. The problem is if they already just get to watch their shows and play the game with no effort put in, putting those activities behind a “learning wall” is going to go over like a fart in church.

Working with your son or nephew so that they don’t know they’re learning a skill or a craft can be harder. It takes being very persuasive, knowing how to do it yourself, and being excited to the point of matching their energy. It’s all performance. If you’re not into showing him how to do it and willing to sit there while he does it, it’s just not going to work.

If neither of those sound feasible to you, then there’s always just enrolling them into an activity. It requires sacrificing your time but the main thing is getting them interested in something outside of sports. That isn’t to say they shouldn’t play sports period. If they enjoy it, they have friends who play them, and/or they show some athletic ability in a sport, encourage it.

However, it’s just as important that Black boys have a skill and develop talent beyond sports. They don’t have to end up being a prodigy or a Renaissance man and they have to be pushed beyond their competency and interest—the kid just has to develop a familiarity in something. Having familiarity or an outright talent in anything opens the doors to numerous opportunities down the line.

So, think beyond the court and the field this summer.

Staff Writer; M. Swift

This talented writer is also a podcast host, and comic book fan who loves all things old school. One may also find him on Twitter at; metalswift.

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