As professional athletic organizations gain economic and cultural prominence in the 21st Century many sociologists are researching the different career paths that black athletes take depending on their particular economic context. The emerging trends point toward a widening identity gap between those that are fast-tracked to a lucrative professional athletic career and those that have not had the same fortune and are forced to find alternative routes to their futures (Jackson). This brief essay will outline how this impacts the identity formation of these subgroups within the larger black culture.
As it has long been known the black population as a whole suffers from an income disparity compared to white America, but as we have progressed through the Civil Rights Era and minority groups close the gap there is are diverging economic sub sects within the black community itself with higher income families being able to afford increasingly expensive preparations for their athletically gifted children (Parmer).
Furthermore, the difference between the drafted that reap the monetary reward of their efforts progress along a higher and deeper social arc than the undrafted that are left to find their own route to become professional athletes. Sociologists such as Dr. Parmer are seeing the newly rich black athlete in the NBA, NFL, and MLB gain greater acceptance while these leagues also create lower subdivisions for undrafted athletes that have to continue to climb the career ladder from the bottom.
This has created a subgroup of black athletes that remain economically disadvantaged but that also are able to understand and further appreciate the benefits of being a professional athlete once, and if, they land the professional contract.
Jackson, Derrick. Foul Play on Black Athletes’ Graduation Rates. 17 March 2009. American Renaissance Magazine. 28 April 2009. http://www.amren.com/mtnews/archives/2009/03/foul_play_on_bl.php
Parmer, Twinet, Ph.d. The Athletic Dream – But What Are the Career Dreams of Other African American High School Students? Volume 20, No. 2/Dec. 1993. Journal of Career Development. 28 April 28, 2009. http://www.springerlink.com/content/n2rt5tt504116478/