Monday, September 15, 2008

Boyce Watkins: Poem to the Black Male Athlete

Some of you may know that I have a creative side (i.e. my rap single that we released last week, which has gotten great reviews from radio DJs around the country - even though I am still growing as an artist....but yes, I really am a rapper, not a professor trying to rap: I don't fit easily into anyone's box. I've loved Hip Hop my whole life, especially Ice Cube, Spice 1, Tupac and TI). You might also know that I have been in an on-going academic battle with the NCAA over the fact that this organization extracts over $1 Billion dollars per year from the black community. As part of my role as a Faculty affiliate at the College Sports Research Institute at The University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, I plan to continue investigating ways that the compensation model can be one that allows the families of athletes to experience some of the rewards of this professional sports league.

To have fun with this, I wrote a poem that describes the experiences I've seen from black college athletes as I've taught at 5 major universities over the past 15 years. If you know me, you know I write from the heart, so this is based on what I've seen up close. I am hopeful that these words can provide insight to the mothers of black men who are allowing their sons to go through a system that has not worked very hard to educate them and works overtime to exploit them and their families. Sports is cool, but education is what stays with you for a lifetime. Please teach that to your children every single day.

The Big Brown Baller
by Dr. Boyce Watkins

I turned the TV on ESPN
I saw the Big Brown Baller again
The one who can jump straight out of the gym
Who scores 50 points and hangs on the rim
The latest great athlete of the NCAA
The next billion dollar asset they won't have to pay
The guy that's encouraged to skip out on class
To run the 40 yard dash for university cash
The Big Brown Baller was on lots of billboards
Coke and Toyota and WalMart and Ford
I hear the "cha-ching" as the college gets paid
Just call him piano, cause the boy is getting played
I'm a finance professor, so I'll ask like a geek
How can you put "students" on TV every week,
as they graduate slow, your cash flow will grow
And you never give that player a cut of the dough?
The player can't show me any stuff that he's got
But the coach told me that he just bought a new yacht
Some jewels for his cat, diamonds for his wife's ear
All owed to the fresh negroes he recruited last year
The Big Brown Baller wasn't doing so hot
His mom got evicted, his brother got shot
The NCAA came and put on the clamps
When he tried to buy groceries with his mama's food stamps
Some say that the athletes should never get paid
Free school for 10 million? Is that a fair trade?
If I were an athlete, I would most likely say
"F--k you, pay me" in a Goodfellas Way
One thing that I notice for the athletes in brown
I don't see many players in a cap or a gown
Schools make sure players show up for games on TV
But they don't make them show up to get a degree
Some say that the athletes are the reason for this
When I hear that same crap, I admit I get pissed
Do you remember when you took Tyrone out of my class
So he could go across country and throw the big pass?
If education was key in your time with Tyrone
You would have said "Miss the game and go study at home"
But with "voluntary" practices, you know the rule
He's not here to study, he's your garden tool
Excuse all my French, but that's the language I use
The phrase "student athlete" has been long abused
Their broke families give billions but take all the blame
When their children come home in a shadow of shame
The NCAA wears suits, but deep underneath
They're really just pimps with gold in their teeth
Making rules to fool fools talking nothing but jive
To keep their professional sports league alive
He hit the last shot, and after the game
The Brown Baller emerges, and it's more of the same
The coaches and corporates and little old men
Stand around him and chant "Boy you did it again!"
They rob money in buckets and release it in drops
There's a jacking in progress, so please call the cops
Each time a school makes free millions from play
They are in gross violation of the American way.
Don't believe me, just try it, let the players sit out
Is a boycott in order? I don't have any doubt
Without the brown ballers, you already know
No endorsements, no fans, no tv, no dough