Should black athletes leave white colleges?

Jemele Hill is a black writer who was employed as a sports columnist at ESPN for 12 years and is now on the staff of The Atlantic magazine.  Her latest column is rather provocative.  It's entitled: "It's Time for Black Athletes to Leave White Colleges." 

Hill says black athletes, particularly elite ones, need to attend black colleges (Grambling, Florida A&M, etc.), which she lumps under the acronym "HBCU," for historically black colleges and universities.  As to why this should happen, she notes that HBCUs have low endowments and are often strapped for money.  If blacks athletes would migrate en masse, Hill envisions that a good amount of the billions of dollar the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) sports now generate would flow to the HBCUs, and this in turn would help "these historic institutions" to rebuild.

Trying to add a moral veneer to her argument, Hill adds her perception of the unfairness of college sports programs as they relates to black athletes. 

But black athletes in general are being exploited, because they're not being paid, and they're clearly the backbone of a lot of these universities, of which their labor has helped them become these huge powerhouses.  You're looking at schools like Texas and Alabama who have a 200 million dollar athletic budget — not a school budget, just the athletic budget. All that is built on the backs of black athletes.

For Ms. Hill to write that the major sports programs have been built "on the backs of black athletes" indicates that she doesn't understand the structure of collegiate sports, its history, or its allure.  Yes, it's undeniable that in very many programs today, maybe even the majority of them in basketball and football, black athletes are the star commodity.  But that's not the alpha and omega of the story.  What shows up on the gridiron or basketball court is just the tip of the program behind it.

The two greatest structural underpinnings colligate teams have are name recognition and the near unwavering support their institutions give them.  Name recognition translates into a brand name for the average fan.  Take Notre Dame as an example.  Its fans naturally savor victory, but win or lose, they are behind the Irish, wearing the blue and gold with a leprechaun as a mascot.  The fans of other colleges and universities across the country feel the same way about their teams. 

Should every black athlete transfer from white universities to HBCUs, large amounts of revenue from game attendance and broadcast sources would not necessarily follow.  At the so-called white colleges, open positions would be quickly filled with other athletes who, although perhaps not as talented as the black athletes they are replacing, will still be competitive and entertaining to watch.  The fans will continue to root for their teams, be it in the stands or sitting before the TV.  The revenue might take a slight dip, but the money will continue to come in.  

As for the HBCUs now endowed with black athletic talent, will they draw 70,000–100,000 every Saturday to their games as teams in the Big 10 and SEC typically do?  Will TV ratings soar for a Grambling v. Florida A&M game just because of a strong-arm quarterback and players who were high in the national high school rating system?  Contrary to what Ms. Hill feels, I think not.

To be blunt about it, Ms. Hill seems to overestimate the value of black athletes to collegiate sports.  In this day of victimhood, she is airing her grievances and hoping for a future that cannot be.  Ironically, the ones most hurt by her idea would be black athletes who take her advice.  This is why few if any of them will do it.  They realize they are not like the rooster who thinks its crowing causes the sun to rise.

As for The Atlantic, it used to be a serious magazine for serious people — but it seems to be having trouble maintaining its bearings in the woke environment of today.

Image: ESSENCE via YouTube.

If you experience technical problems, please write to