Black Sports

Women’s Final Four Proves When Black Dads Get Involved, Legacies Change

By: Jasmine Cochran

Women’s basketball is a sport that often has to fight for recognition and respect. However, when Mississippi State defeated UConn in this year’s NCAA Final Four, ending the Huskies’ 111 game winning streak and punching the Lady Bulldogs’ tickets to the NCAA finals for the first time in school history, the whole country stood at attention to salute.

The game was exhilarating. As a former athlete at Mississippi State University, I bit my fingernails throughout every update on our sports app during the competition. The thick tension in my apartment in China was nothing compared to the tension in the American Airlines Center in Dallas. When the update popped up announcing our victory, I jumped and yelled and screamed our chant, then frantically posted on social media that we were going to The ‘Ship. Thrilled couldn’t even begin to explain how I was feeling.

As an athlete, I understand the work that goes into those wins and losses, the same. The superstar of the game, point guard Morgan William, knows all about loss. In the Elite Eight game against Baylor, she scored 41 points. After that game, she became social media famous and guest posted for a popular sports blog. In the article, she talks about her father’s impact on her athletic career. Tears welled in my eyes as I read it.

When she spoke of her dad, I thought of my own dad’s involvement in my life. I thought about how he used to make me shoot “until I got tired,” but I’d keep going, because I wanted him to know that his efforts weren’t in vain. I thought of how he attended every game and track meet of my high school career, and all that he could fit into his schedule during my college career. Contrary to popular belief, more black dads than Morgan’s and mine exemplify this kind of support. Therefore, I’d like to take this opportunity to honor black dads who don’t line up with the prejudice.

The stats aren’t in their favor

In 2015, the New York Times published an article announcing that the narrative of serially absentee black fathers is nothing short of a myth. In fact, it shed proof that black fathers may, in fact, be the most present demographic when it comes to involvement in the lives of their children. The arguments to support the claim are compelling. Consider when a couple cohabits, the mother is still labeled as “single.” This means that the father might even live with the family, but their marital status doesn’t reflect togetherness.

Their motivation is like oxygen

You’d be hard pressed to find a group of people more familiar with the need to push for excellence, than black men. Most agree that black people have to be twice as qualified to get half the recognition. These men understand the value of constant motivation and support for their children. If they don’t do it, it’s likely that no one else will.

They let us know it’s bigger than just us

The town where I grew up was overwhelmingly white. We had the support of many of our neighbors, but there was a special bond among the black community. Yes, there were the instances of black kids claiming those who wanted to excel really wanted to be white. However, I recall a collective pushing from the black adults in my community who wanted more for those of us who were willing to do the work. I wanted to make them proud and create a legacy of achievement for the kids who would come behind me. It was for them to know their fights for my opportunities weren’t in vain. I appreciated them, and I proved it with my success.

The Lady Bulldogs didn’t win the championship, but William’s father’s impact remains just as potent. As we celebrate Morgan William’s accomplishments, let’s also celebrate the love and discipline her father instilled in her life from a young age. If you see a young black dad supporting and motivating his children, go out of your way to do the same for him. You never know what greatness you may be contributing to.

Read the original story here.

Read the original study here.

Jasmine believes in love, presence, and justice. She also believes in communication, so leave a comment!


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