Monday, April 14, 2008

A Mother Teaches Her Son How to Play the Game: Race & Basketball

By Coy Bundy

Basketball is a renowned sport that expresses all the laws of gravity.

There are players that broke the racial boundaries of basketball in our American past. Ya Ming alone is the first Asian basketball player I have ever seen. Larry Byrd actually was a very good white basketball player (he could actually play like a black man). The other day my oldest son saw two young boys from India in his three-on-three tournament and was excited because he didn't even know what race they were. The beauty of basketball is that the kids and adults playing the sport becomes more and more diverse everyday. The problem of basketball is that the Referees have not changed as the years go by.

My son is 5'6" and weighs 135 pounds. He is a basketball player. It's as though he has the size of Shaquille O'neal and the ball control of Kobe Bryant. Having these skills in little ol' Iowa is not always good. It's a blessing for him because of his future. That's as far as it goes. My son is continuously fouled because of his size and is fouled out of games also because of his size. He is a very caring young man and has great sportsmanship with other players. Until the referees get involved. My son's East High 6th grade AAU team is the best in the league. They don't win championships in Iowa because of bogus referee calls.

To focus on the reasoning behind these bogus calls by referees, I have came to the conclusion that they are intimidated by the fact that a young black man in Iowa can excel. Is it good to teach an all white team that if you cheat and call outrageous fouls that they will succeed in life? It is more harmful than helpful to do this to young men whether they are in Iowa or Atlanta? It doesn't matter if it is an all white team or an all black team. When the white kids on the opposing team get out of AAU and Jr. High School they have to face the fact that they are not as good as the black players. There is a world outside of Iowa and you are giving these kids a bad start. I wonder sometimes if the coaches from the other teams actually approve of this for their children. If you know your team is winning because they are the color that is preferred in the state, why do you allow it?

Every kid has a future and a need for scholarships when they go to college through basketball. Why mentally breakdown the kids that have more balling skills than the ones who don't? Yes, it is hard enough to keep my son out of jail in the state of Iowa when he gets older. But you are making a child face discrimination before he even turns 12 years old, he doesn't know how to handle that. So, what does a child do? He lashes out at the other child and gives him a hard foul. Then what does the parent have to do? We have to punish the kid for being upset because he can see and feel the reason of why he is being mistreated.

We're in the year of 2008, when is this going to stop? Shouldn't our children with mad balling skills be protected against these prejudices of older white men? As a parent, what do you say to your child when you know that he is being treated unfairly? Is there cause to discipline your child for outburst that he cannot help because he can't handle the pain in his heart from this treatment? Are we still living in the Civil Rights Movement days as our parents lived in? Will he hate white people all together and believe they are sneaky and conniving because of this? Should you pull your son out of a sport that you know may get him into a good college instead of letting him succeed in life like the kids that live in Ankeny, Johnston, Altoona, West Des Moines and Waukee?

I'll tell you what I am doing as a parent with my son. I know that racism is still out there in Iowa, even in the year of 2008. My son is protected against prejudices referees because I protect him. I tell my son that this is a part of life and even though I do not agree with it, it makes him stronger than the kids he is playing against. When my son has an outburst and is crying because of unfair treatment I tell my son to respect authority and respect the call. I do believe that we are still living in the Civil Rights Movement days and will not stop until the older generation has stopped making the decisions they made in the 1960's. Yes, my son will not trust white people because of how he is being treated by white referees that discriminate against him. Although his feelings are hurt I still encourage him to love all races of people and "my son's best friend is a white kid". The last answer to my last question, is No. I'm not pulling my son from basketball because he is being mistreated and fouled out of games. He is a strong black young man and he will succeed in life no matter who tries to break his spirit because I am right there to mend them back together for him. I am my son's mother, lawyer, therapist, life coach and confidant. I will never let him fail.

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