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Higher Learning. A publication from Medium for the interested man.


In LEVEL. More on Medium.

Are we raising boys who are free to be themselves?

A still from “#blackAF.” Photo courtesy of Netflix

A young Black boy comes into the house crying. When his parents ask what’s wrong, he explains: His classmates forgot his birthday. He cries harder, beginning to hyperventilate. The mother comforts the boy, tells him to breathe. It’s the picture of loving parenthood. The father, though, stands back with a look of disgust, shaking his head. On the screen, a mock scouting report appears distilling the 10-year-old’s disposition: He is the “sweet, sensitive, moist towelette of the family.”

When sports is the only model of success presented to young Black boys, it sets up a framework of failure

Stars of the Netflix show “Last Chance U” Marcel Andry and Ronald Ollie. Photo: Icon Sportswire/Getty Images

Imagine if we expected people to choose their careers in sixth grade. If we regularly required 12-year-olds to make decisions that would dictate the rest of their lives. The thought makes little sense, yet for athletes, that’s essentially what happens. In order to become competitive at the college level — let alone the professional level — they have to start building those skills in childhood. Intrinsic talent and biology come into play, but few things build skills better than time and repetition.

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