Sunday, October 24, 2021

The Journal of Steffanie Rivers: The Deion Sanders Effect

*The last ten months have been a roller coaster ride due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Businesses have closed, opened and closed again. And millions of Americans have lost their jobs. Throughout it all liquor stores, marijuana dispensaries and gun ranges remained opened. American priorities seem to be drinking, smoking, shooting weapons and watching sports! Pro and college level sports stuck to their schedules despite overwhelming numbers of players contracting the virus. Yet the games still go on, because they generate money for the teams, the owners and colleges.

NFL Hall of Fame cornerback Deion Sanders was named head coach at Jackson State University, a historically Black college. Now some top high school recruits who had planned to attend White colleges reconsidered and committed to JSU. Sanders’ track record of success and knowledge of the game made these standout student athletes reconsider their options. If this continues to happen – top Black students attending HBCUs instead of White schools – there is sure to be a shift in power.

Coaches at White colleges realized long ago the draw these Black student athletes are to the bottom line. When they win games alumni donations increase, fans buy tickets and merchandise and their chances of bowl game appearances increase. Imagine how many millions of dollars would be re-directed to HBCUs if Black student athletes realized the amount of money, power and respect they command wherever they go.

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Former NFL football player Deion Sanders is interviewed during On Location Experiences’ 51 Days To Super Bowl LI Celebration at STK Rooftop on December 14, 2016 in New York City.
(Dec. 13, 2016 – Source: Bryan Bedder/Getty Images North America)

During the 2019-2020 college bowl game season those colleges and conferences represented split $448 million in revenue. Louisiana State University won the 2020 National Championship over opponent Clemson University. Of the top fifteen LSU football standouts, 13 of them were Black. Ten of Clemson’s top 15 football players were Black. Regardless of the sport, Black student athletes say they prefer to play for White colleges for access to better sports programs, more television air time and increased potential for pro contracts. But the fact is wherever these Black athletes go the money, TV air time and contracts will follow. The sooner parents and student athletes realize they don’t have to chase the money, power or respect the better off they and HBCUs will be.

The biggest realization should be how little respect some White people have for these Black student athletes off the field. When four years of eligibility ends some of them could care less if they graduate or what life after college looks like for Black athletes. Last month LSU freshmen Koy Moore used his social media platforms to reveal how he was held at gunpoint by Baton Rouge cops searching for guns and drugs that he didn’t have. Moore said after he told the cops he played for LSU they let him go. His attorney said Moore’s claims were verified by police camera video.

If Black student athletes start to attend HBCUs in greater numbers and stop giving their talents to people who couldn’t care less about their success beyond how that White school benefits from it, millions of dollars will be re-directed to Black communities and a power-shift would occur. Stop chasing notoriety. Let the money, power and respect follow you to HBCUs.

Steffanie Rivers (screenshot1)
Steffanie Rivers

Steffanie Rivers is a freelance journalist living in the Dallas-Ft. Worth metroplex. Email her at [email protected] with your comments, questions and speaking inquiries. Follow her @tcbstef on Twitter and Instagram.

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