The problems of having single mothers raising up and coming athletes has been on a downward spiral for the last 40 years. Some statistics say that the numbers of single mothers raising African-American athletes is around 60% today.
In the late 1960’s that number was around 25%. It is a problem when young African-American athletes grow up without any direction from their fathers.
Growing up without a father is difficult whether you play sports, are African- American or whether you’re any type of athlete or not. It is a huge challenge placed upon mothers or grandmothers.
The mothers and grandmothers who are there to raise the kids are doing the best they can in a difficult situation. Sometimes there is not enough money to support a family, therefore the families must make sacrifices daily.
They many times struggle with day-to-day activities without a strong male presence in the home. Or work long hours in order to get and keep food on the table and the bills paid.
As it relates to African-American athletes, the challenges are stronger and the decisions become more difficult in terms of college recruiting, college visits, and choosing the right coach.
All these decisions have to be made sometimes by an older person who has a clear understanding of sports and is able to give advice based on their life learning experiences.
That’s what a father is supposed to do but in many situations, the African-American father does not exist. There are a lot of African-American athletes who, each year, are placed in a difficult and challenging situation of having to make adult decisions without the luxury of having an adult to advise them on what direction they should lean towards.
There are many talented African-Americans athletes in football, baseball, and basketball who were coached by mostly white men and may be unable to relate to African-American athletes.
Having a father in one’s life who knows the ways of the world and who’d be able to smooth over any difficulties are challenges that African-American athletes may encounter with a coach at the college level.
Also keep in mind, there are many challenges in high school. As a college recruiter, I’ve heard stories of how some high school coaches will try to ruin an African-American athlete’s chances of going to college.
One situation that comes to mind is the high school getting information to college programs about that high school student athlete or the school/counselors not providing enough guidance on academic issues; only caring about that athlete’s eligibility for the next game.
Not having a strong father figure to see the athletes through all of the bull-crap can’t hurt that African-American athlete’s chances of college exposure, college placement and a good college education.