Ashli Nicole Coggins
For nearly 65 years, African-American athletes have emerged and grown in their roles as professionals. In a country where black athletes were once nonexistent, these men now represent the mass majority of all major sports.
African-American athletes have evolved from being nonexistent to the driving force of professional sports. According to Diversity Inc., 77 percent of NBA players, 66 percent of NFL players, and 15 percent of MLB players are black. Each year, this trend continues to grow.
A novel written by Edwards and Huberman reported that in 1949, there we no black athletes in the National Basketball Association. They also stated that in 1944 and 1946, the National Football League and Major League Baseball both lacked black players.
Treasure Stegall, a sophomore pre-med major from West Point, Miss., said, “It’s amazing to me that there were no black athletes just years ago, because now, when you turn on your television, and tune in to a good game, black athletes are all that you see.”
According to Edwards and Huberman, the first black players were drafted around the closing of the 1940s. Chuck Cooper is the first black signed in the NBA. Marion Motely is the first black to play in white football and Jackie Robinson was the first to sign in the MLB.
As time progressed, the number of black athletes grew. In 1998, Edwards and Huberman stated that 77 percent of all pro basketball players were black, 65 percent of all pro football, and 15 percent of all pro baseball.
Jamessa Davis, a sophomore, and social work major from Jackson, Miss. is amazed at how fast the stats rose.
“Everyone knows about Jackie Robinson, but it amazes me that after one player was drafted, the numbers grew so drastically. I feel as if white people looked down on our race until they saw that we could play ‘their’ sports better. Especially with money being involved, they are now willing to draft any black athlete that they feel will bring money into their franchise.”
Adrian Smith, a sophomore biology major from Natchez, Miss. also weighed in on these statistics.
“It’s no surprise to me that the numbers grew. Black people have always been underestimated until our full potential is seen. It’s amazing that the numbers shot up, because now, we not only are the dominate race in the sports world, but we also are making money.”
Today, black athletes are the face of several major brands. These players sign contracts or star in commercials targeted to bring money into big companies.
According to Darren Rovell, a senior writer at ESPN, Lebron James signed a lifetime contract with NIKE. James is a black, professional basketball star that plays for the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Russell Wilson, an African-American quarterback for the Seattle Seahawks recently starred in a Levi’s Commercial. David Ortiz, an African-American first baseman for the Boston Red Sox starred in a series of Dunkin Donuts commercials.