Last Sunday, my kids and I prepared our favorite meals and snacks and got ready to party. If you didn’t know any better, you might have thought were having a Super Bowl Party one week early.
It wasn’t the Super Bowl we were celebrating, but my son’s participation in the Education Bowl. But wouldn’t it be great if families and friends put as much emphasis on students striving to excel in their class work as we do grown men excelling on a football field?
When was the last time you cheered for your son or daughter for distinguishing themselves in non-sports related feat? How many people do you invite to the spelling bee? How much many hours a day after school do they do homework vs. attend practice for their sports teams?
I get the importance of school and community sports. My boys play basketball and baseball. But especially in our community, since you can count on more parents showing up on the field or the court than school open house or a PTA meeting, we ought to be willing to try something different.
You can’t blame kids for thinking athletics are more important than academics, especially boys. If they’re good, they’re usually the most popular and given special treatment by students, coaches and even some teachers and administrators.
I know I’m fantasizing, but how cool would it be if there was a day as big as the Super Bowl dedicated to kids, – especially boys – celebrating their intelligence. If athletes, actors, politicians, laborers, business executives, kids and parents got a national platform to pay homage to boys and girls who performed well in school. If the hottest musicians sang, corporate America paid top dollar to air the most creative ads, and families served chili, nachos and sliders as the rooted on academic achievers.
So many African-American boys are pressured by their peers to dumb it down when they get to middle school because, for some reason, it’s not cool to be smart in some circles. Hopefully, now that the coolest black man in the world is also president of the United States, this will change.
Booker T. Washington made the following observation: “The Negro boy has obstacles, discouragements and temptations to battle with that are little known to those not situated as he is. When a white boy undertakes a task, it is taken for granted that he will succeed. On the other hand, people are usually surprised if the Negro boy does not fail. In a word, the Negro youth starts out with the presumption against him.
It’s crazy how he wrote these words over 100 years ago, and they are still true today.
It starts in the home with your family. Cheer good grades more than you cheer touch downs. Put as much emphasis on study time as you do on practice.
Last night, we had another celebration – but once again, it wasn’t for Super Bowl. After taking second place in their league’s championship, my youngest son was awarded a trophy and the heart award.
I was so proud. Confucius says, “Wherever you go, go with all your heart.” This quote meant more to me this past weekend than ever before. My son may not be the best offensive or defensive player, but when he steps on the court, he brings so much heart with him, he can’t help but make things happen. I hope he brings his heart to whatever he chooses to do in life. Heart makes all the difference.
And to help both of my sons on that journey, I celebrate the good things: my youngest one’s heart, his older brother’s character and high moral compass, plus their good grades.
As mentioned earlier, I agree that sports can teach some valuable life lessons, but it’s not the only measure of success for our children.
Let’s celebrate equally everything our children bring to the table.
Nikki Woods is senior producer of “The Tom Joyner Morning Show.” The author of “Easier Said Than Done,” the Dallas-based Woods is currently working on her second and third novels. You can friend her on Facebook or follow her on Twitter: @nikkiwoods.