In his State of the Union Address, when Obama asked America’s youth to celebrate science fair winners, not just Super Bowl champions, he downplayed the fact that sports have historically been an important avenue toward empowerment for many African American youths, author Michael Eric Dyson says.
To mark Black History month, Dyson joined a panel conversation moderated The Nation‘s Dave Zirin including FanHouse columnist Kevin Blackistone and former football player Bobby Mitchell on CSN to explore the role sports has played for the African American community over the last century.
Mitchell, who 50 years ago integrated the Washington Redskins—the last whites-only football team in the NFL—said that even though his childhood dream was to become a dentist, when his football talents were noticed he had to seize the opportunity available to him.
Sports—and the high salaries the nation’s top athletes make—can also help support communities in other ways, Blackistone says. The late DC sports magnate Abe Pollin, for example, built a $220 million sports venue in in downtown Washington, and athletes often give back to their communities in ways ranging from community service to investment to even coaching future generations of athletes and students.