Are black athletes systematically separated from the general black student population?
Alfred Anderson | Staff Writer
At North Carolina State University, the black community is relatively small. Many people argue that as black students, we should all aim to help support and encourage one other. However, many students feel as though we fall short in doing so. According to some, the black community is even divided.
One of the biggest divisions amongst the black community at N.C. State is the division of black student athletes and other black students. In general, athletes aren’t often seen unless students have class with them or are friends with them. At events held by black organizations and groups, not many athletes tend to be in attendance. Athletes may occasionally be spotted at parties, the gym, the Atrium or Talley from time to time, but regardless, there seems to be a lack of relationships between black students and athletes.
In 2011, as a freshman at N.C. State, I attended a program called Summer START. Summer START is a program dedicated to helping students with their transition to college. Amongst its participants are students of different cultural and ethnic backgrounds, along with students from other states and countries. Last, but certainly not least, are athletes. Summer START also serves as a program to help kick start the academic careers of freshman athletes as they participate in summer workouts in preparation for their first year at NC State.
During this month long program, I began to develop good friendships with some of the athletes. We all lived in Owen Residence Hall and as Summer START came to an end, most of us decided to remain in Owen for the entirety of our freshman year. We all constantly hung out together, played video games, ate and partied together. So, it wasn’t until my sophomore year that I began to realize how divided N.C. State students and N.C. State student athletes are.
As I met made more and more friends at State, I learned that many of them didn’t have many friends who were athletes. Many of then even thought that the athletes were stuck up and acted as if they were “too good” to hang out with other black students. However, I felt differently about the situation, because of my relationship with athletes. But, the more and more I put thought into it, I began to believe that this division between students and athletes is systematic.
Most athletes live off-campus with their teammates. This is understandable because their teammates are the ones they work out with, watch film with and spend the most time with. Also, as a result of athletes living off of campus, having practices, meetings, etc., many of their schedules don’t coincide with the schedules of regular students. Athletes are even isolated in a way because of the high demands placed upon them because of their respective sports.
Regardless, I believe that this can be changed. Maybe black athletes and students can both work harder to reach out to one another to attend and participate in events. Judgments should not be made and time should be spent really attempt to learn more about and get to know each other. Maybe then, we can close the gap that exists between black athletes and black students at N.C. State in attempt to develop a stronger black community. Pan Afrikan week is the perfect time for us to begin building these new bridges.