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2004
Bunche
Symposium
 
 C.
Keith
Harrison
(Kinesiology,
University
of
Michigan):
 
"Ralph

Bunche and the 'Scholar-Baller' Paradigm: Academic, Athletic and Social Transformation"

C.
Keith
Harrison
opened
his
discussion
of
African
American
student
athletes,
with
 several
personal
anecdotes,
among
them
the
story
of
a
discussion
he
had
with
his
 father
in
1998
when
he
commented
on
the
failure
of
contemporary
black
collegiate
 athletes
to
emulate
the
actions
of
historical
African
American
student
athletes
such
 as
Dr.
Ralph
Bunche
and
Jackie
Robinson.
In
response,
his
father
remarked
that
 "they've
forgotten
that
they're
black",
highlighting
the
observation
that
many
 modern
black
student
athletes
have
come
to
neglect
their
cultural
heritage,
as
well
 as
their
responsibility
to
attain
an
education
concurrently
with
participating
in
 college
sports.
Conversely,
African‐American
athletes
in
the
past
were
expected
to
 combine
scholarship
and
athletic
prowess
to
a
greater
extent
than
what
is
expected
 today.
Bunche
himself
is
a
clear
example
of
what
Harrison
referred
to
as
a
"scholar‐ baller",
a
student
athlete
who
balances
not
only
athletics
and
education,
but
cultural
 elements
as
well.
 


In
discussing
the
"scholar‐baller"
phenomenon,
Harrison
recounted
Bunche's
 achievements
as
a
dynamic
student
at
UCLA,
involved
in
various
athletic
and
non‐ athletic
activities
on
campus
such
as
the
student
newspaper
and
debate
team.
 According
to
Harrison,
despite
significant
attitudes
of
racism
during
the
early
20th
 century,
African
American
college
students
like
Bunche
were
heavily
involved
in
 extracurricular
activities,
forming
a
type
of
"in‐crowd"
composed
primarily
of
 student
scholars.
Though
he
faced
discrimination
from
his
white
teammates,
he
 went
on
to
become
an
accomplished
student
and
valedictorian
of
his
class.
In
his
 graduation
speech,
he
condemned
racism,
saying
that
"hatreds
are
superficial
‐
 based
upon
fear,
ignorance,
blind
prejudice,
or
a
desire
to
dominate
for
selfish
 ends…if
people
can
by
educational
processes,
mutually
arrive
at
greater
 understanding
and
sympathy,
these
hatreds
will
in
large
measure
be
dissipated…"

 


Like
Bunche,
other
historical
student
athletes
such
as
William
Henry
Lewis
and
Paul
 Robeson
also
became
known
at
their
respective
colleges
for
both
their
academic
and
 athletic
achievements.
However,
somewhere
along
the
line
this
expectation
for
black
 student
athletes
to
succeed
academically
eventually
gave
way
to
the
"dumb
jock"
 stereotype
that
exists
today.
Citing
a
1996
study
using
data
collected
from
over
500
 intercollegiate
student
athletes,
Harrison
described
an
overall
trend
for
black
 student
athletes
to
either
maintain
a
strong
athletic
identity
along
with
a
weak
racial
 identity,
or
to
hold
a
weak
athletic
identity
along
with
a
strong
racial
identity.
He
 noted
that
unlike
African
American
scholar‐ballers
of
the
past,
modern
black
 student
athletes
tend
to
choose
between
academia
and
athleticism,
rarely
focusing
 on
both.
However,
Harrison
also
suggested
that
this
not
need
be
the
case
for



contemporary
black
student
athletes,
given
the
rich
history
of
African
American
 athletes
who
have
succeeded
at
excelling
in
both
arenas.

 Harrison
suggested
that
the
history
of
the
original
scholar‐ballers
such
as
Dr.
Ralph
 Bunche
should
be
further
studied,
not
only
for
its
own
sake,
but
in
order
to
preserve
 the
legacy
they
left
behind
to
modern
black
student
athletes.

 



2004 Bunche Symposium  

C. Keith Harrison (Kinesiology, University of Michigan): "Ralph Bunche and the 'Scholar Baller®' Paradigm: Academic, Athletic and Social Tra...

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