Listen: When Deion Sanders left HBCU Jackson State University to become the head football coach at the University of Colorado, a Power Five PWI, I was on the fence about how I felt about it. I just wasn’t feeling the idea that he had abandoned Black people by taking a much higher-paying job after spending three seasons helping to improve conditions at JSU. At the same time, I understood people who felt he promoted himself as an HBCU advocate just to turn around and use that momentum to carve himself out an opportunity at a predominately white Power Five school that doesn’t really need him the way JSU did.
But Sanders’ recent explanation of his recruitment strategy — which he said determines who will play which position based not on ability or skill but whether the athlete comes from a single-parent or two-parent home — kind of puts things into perspective.
“Well, we have different attributes,” Sanders said last month during an interview with sports commentator Rich Eisen. “Smart, tough, fast, disciplined with character. Now, quarterbacks are different. We want mother, father. Dual parent. We want that kid to be 3.5 [GPA] and up. Because he has to be smart. Not bad decisions off the field, at all. Because he has to be a leader of men.”
Sanders continued: “Defensive linemen is totally opposite. Single mama, trying to get it, he’s on free lunch. I’m talking about just trying to make it. He’s trying to rescue mama. Like mama barely made the flight. And I want him to just go get it. It’s a whole different attribute that you look for in different positions. And we have that stuff just chronicled. We know what we want, and we go get it.”
Nah, sorry, but this is some borderline sunken place nonsense that fuels racial stereotypes (regardless of him not actually mentioning race) and places student-athletes in a box based on the circumstances of their family dynamic. Besides the assumption that high academic achievement automatically translates to having a high football IQ, there’s the inherent anti-Blackness in the assumption that athletes are likely to be less smart and desperate to escape poverty based solely on not having a father in the home. (Again, it doesn’t matter that he didn’t mention Black people specifically. We all know who’s going to come to mind first after mentions of “single mama,” “free lunch” and “he’s trying to rescue mama” who “barely made the flight.”)
It’s entirely possible that the reason there are so few Black quarterbacks on the professional and collegiate levels is due to recruiters sharing similar views to that of Sanders. And as it has been pointed out by many people on social media over the last week, Sanders’ recruitment strategy apparently excludes his own children, including son Shadueur who was already named starting quarterback for Colorado next season.
But, this thing goes deeper than that, especially once you realize that Sanders has been married twice and has children by both of his ex-wives and that while he’s currently in a relationship, he’s still technically single.
How do you have a recruiting philosophy that would be biased against your own kids?
The answer to that question is that Sanders has proven that since he’s been a head coach at the collegiate level, he is more than willing to say things that “sound good,” while also having an affinity to pander to white audiences.
And that’s the other part of the problem. How does one go from praising HBCUs and encouraging Black students — who may or may not come from a single-parent home to attend Black colleges — to sitting in front of a largely white audience and subliminally confirming everything they already likely perceive about Black families and the intelligence of Black people, particularly those who don’t come from two-parent homes?
Imagine being a young Black football player and being told by the head coach that you’re destined for the defensive line because the household you come from gives big “trying to escape the hood” energy. We would definitely call a white coach racist for that—and rightfully so.
And it probably doesn’t help that, in the same interview, Sanders praised his new school for being in a low-crime area while clearly indicating it’s a departure from his experience at JSU.
“I love the weather and there’s no crime…It was four weeks before I saw a police, I stopped him,” he said.
This came after he defended his daughter, a former student-athlete at JSU, after she got dragged for lying about multiple murders happening on JSU’s campus “every few months,” when, in fact, there had only been one reported murder there during Sanders’ entire tenure as a head coach.
The point is, an athlete will show a coach what they’re capable of without coaches deciding they already know based on said athlete’s family background. So, maybe Sanders simply left JSU for a higher-paying job at a school with more resources. Or maybe he just doesn’t have a very high opinion of underprivileged Black folks. Or maybe both.
Either way, he’s pretty much knocked down that fence I was on.
Secular Group Demands Deion Sanders Stop ‘Religious Exercises With Players’ At University Of Colorado
Dr. Umar Johnson Recommends ‘50,000 Lashes’ For Deion Sanders Leaving Jackson State For Colorado
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