The power of athletics diversifies the mind

By Josh Haywood

Writer

Athletics have many redeeming qualities such as teaching team dynamics, personal accountability, time management and a plethora of other skills. There is one thing more thing that athletics can give you that is unmatched in any other realm: racial diversity along with cultural awareness. Besides joining the armed forces, I firmly believe being involved in athletics is unlike any other organization out there. Athletics made me more open to people of another race as it has taught me one of the most valuable lessons in life: you cannot define a person by the color of their skin, but only through the content of their character. No matter the ethnicity–black, white, hispanic–under the surface of our skin we all bleed the same blood, we all drip the same sweat and we all shed the same tears. Being a part of a team has given me more than just something to do. It has given me a family of 89 brothers who help one another through tough times. This team is not alone. Every sport team out there is the same because, while players may bump heads with one another on occasion, at the end of the day everyone knows they are not an individual, but rather a part of something bigger than themselves. They are teammates; they are family.

What unique values do athletics instill in the mind? It is such an empirical question that I alone could not paint the picture depicting the role, so I asked some of my fellow athletes how they think sports and diversity intertwine.

“Everyone comes from a unique background and walk of life; there are no two people who are the same,” said Josh Eden ’12, an outgoing senior and previous captain of the football team. “Athletics gets past race, our seemingly post-racial generation disregards color. Sports put you in a situation where you have to trust the person besides you and basing trust on the view point of race just hinders the process.”

“Sports offer an opportunity for schools to become more open to different races. Athletics differ from anything else because people are recruited for their academic and athletic merit verses just their color,” said Jermaine Jarrett ’13, a member of the soccer team from Kingston, Jamaica. “Athletics helped me to broaden my perspectives. If I were not on a team like my own, I don’t think I would have experienced other people’s cultures as much as I have.”

“I think it definitely does because it is about what you can do versus your race. Jackie Robinson, and most recently Jeremy Lin, demonstrate that people should be based on their character and sports fully embrace this ideology,” said Bryson Johnson ’13, a member of the men’s basketball team. “It would be tough to go through it alone and with sports, it starts out that you are almost forced to get to know someone, but after the fact you cherish the experience.”

“It definitely plays a role at schools this small. Being candid, this school is mostly white. I know there are people on this campus that, without sports, would not go outside their racial comfort zone when it comes to socializing off the field,” volleyball player Sarah Morris ’15 said. “Schools try to be diverse. Sports give people the opportunity to be with people different from themselves.

Alyssa Dunn ’13, one of the top three scorers on the women’s basketball team, was also asked if sports play a role in promoting diversity. “Most definitely, in athletics people are on an even playing field putting aside issues of race. Sports are unique in a sense that they teach you to become blind to social factor. I, personally, would talk to the same people, but feel that athletics offer you an opportunity to talk to people of different culture.”

The relationship between athletics and diversity is undeniable because it enlightens people on the multitude of cultures that exist on this planet. Those who have never participated in team sports miss out on a major cultural awakening. Non-athletes will never be able experience this understanding the same way we student-athletes do. Sometimes on campus I hear non-athletes say things that I find racially charged and don’t understand their closed-mindedness. This is why I urge non-athletes to step outside their single-shade life and try to experience something different. Athletics is more than winning, it is more than something fun to do, it is a key that opens the mind to a world unlike your own and shows students that people from every walk of life can come together to accomplish something great.


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