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Opinion: Education vs. the lure of pro basketball
From left: Kentucky's Anthony Davis, Doron Lamb,Terrence Jones, coach John Calipari, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Marquis Teague.
April 30th, 2012
12:07 PM ET

Opinion: Education vs. the lure of pro basketball

Editor's note: David J. Pate Jr, is an assistant professor at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Helen Bader School of Social Welfare. He is a member of the Ford Foundation Scholars Network on Masculinity and the Wellbeing of African American Males. The piece was written in association with The Op-ed Project, which seeks to expand the range of opinion voices.

By David J. Pate Jr., Special to CNN

(CNN) - As a father, my heart breaks.

The starting five of the University of Kentucky basketball team — the 2012 NCAA champions — announced earlier this month that they're leaving college to go pro. It happens every year in the wake of March Madness, but as an African-American father, I feel my heart crack a little.

Yes these young champions will make money, lots of it, and will have access to instant fame.

I understand why they made the choice, but their collective decision says something about the options in front of all young African-American men. The Great Migration that saw my elders move from the farm to the factory has shifted; these days, too many men of promise move from college to pro sports.

I've been researching the lives of black men for much of my entire career, as a social worker for 15 years in Chicago and since 1998 as a college professor and scholar in Milwaukee. I've interviewed them, written about them and filmed them, capturing their lives and hopes; I've spent most of my time with men who had little to no incomes and limited academic and employment skills. They are often frustrated, homeless, unemployed and debt-ridden.

Read David J. Pate Jr.'s full column

soundoff (3 Responses)
  1. IveBeenEverywhere

    But if most of the successes are in sports and blacks aren't represented anywhere else....what can you do? For many black people, they see that as the only way out. There's no black Bill Gates.

    May 2, 2012 at 4:53 pm | Report abuse |
  2. raceisamyth

    Here is exactly why im not voting for Obama. He tells strong black women that they cant get out of the ghettos by thselves. He wants them dependent on welfare generation after generation.

    April 30, 2012 at 3:54 pm | Report abuse |
  3. raceisamyth

    Well considering how such a small number of people actually make it to pro sports, id say education should always be first.

    April 30, 2012 at 2:40 pm | Report abuse |