Big help is being provided for some so-called small sports through a thrust from the national sports agency, the Institute of Sports (INSPORTS). The initiative, called the Minor Sports Development Programme, will see the state body partnering with rugby, volleyball, softball, table tennis and basketball in several areas. Leaders of several of the national sporting associations recently met with INSPORTS’ administrative director, Ian Andrews, and discussed ways of improving the growth and development of the respective sports. “All of these organisations say they have these programmes going, but they don’t have the technical capacity,” Andrews noted. “If we can help them with the technical expertise and to get proper venues, then it would go a far way in lifting their sport,” he added, further explaining the need of raising their profile to spark interest and participation. Arising out of the meeting at the agency’s head office, consensus was arrived at with regards to critical areas of need. These are: – Technical support in the form of training coaches and game officials; – Facilities (playing fields and courts); – Equipment; – Primary school age-group competitions; – Meeting facility; – Administrative development capacity. “They’ve been pressuring us for help,” continued Andrews, who outlined that the associations welcomed the Minor Sports Development Programme initiative and pledged their support and cooperation to ensure that maximum benefits to the nation’s youths were forthcoming. Part of the development, he explains, is reciprocal, as they intend to increase the knowledge base to have more persons involved in the training process. “They can train our officers so that they can be certified and help with instituting these programmes,” Andrews said. Calvin Martin, vice-president of the Jamaica Basketball Association and president of the Southern Conference Basketball Association, “thinks the initiative is long overdue” and implored other sporting bodies to work hard at improving their game. “I’m hoping that all the other sports, besides basketball, push for more support,” said Martin. “We don’t have the networking, the resources and personnel and when INSPORTS comes on board, it helps to grow and develop some more. We want to host seminars and learn more about carrying out the day-to-day activities.” He added: “Their youth programmme should benefit mainly. For us, we have mini basketball for the Under-13s, which is our focus this year, and INSPORTS has pledged to support that. We’re starting out in Kingston, St Catherine and Montego Bay. We’re hoping to get into Mandeville as well, but we’re starting out small and see if we can grow. “Mini basketball has two components, one is aimed at the community and the other for prep and primary schools.” Martin, who is also a sports officer at INSPORTS, further noted that “basketball has always gotten support from INSPORTS”, but said they are shooting for increased backing. “We’ll also be looking for additional private partners. What the programme needs cannot be supplied by one entity,” he stated.
Share Travel, meals and coaches’ packetsSpreadsheets and receipts provided to The Texas Tribune under open records laws show that many schools’ recruiting costs go toward travel expenses – like airfare for recruits and coaches, rental cars, chartered buses and limousine companies, and meals that ranged from a $7,200 catered breakfast to $21.11 spent on Torchy’s Tacos.The expenses also document the presence of cottage industries that have sprung up around college sports recruiting, like coaches’ packets that contain information about up-and-coming high school players.“Sold at recruiting events,” these packets “include booklets with information on potential recruit schools, stats on scoring, heights, weight, etc.,” reads a note at the bottom of a ledger of expenses from UTEP.Last year, coaches at UTEP and two other schools paid more than $12,000, collectively, for these packets about prospective women’s and men’s basketball players and football players. At least another $100,000 was spent among those colleges on scouting services, specialized software, access to databases, and certain fees.Among the Texas schools, A&M devoted the most money to recruiting last year — $2.7 million. According to receipts and spreadsheets provided to the Tribune, the football team alone spent tens of thousands of dollars on chartered buses, SUVs or Lincoln sedans for recruiting. “Texas A&M Athletics is a fully committed partner in the overall mission of the University. Last year alone, Athletics provided significant assistance to a program to upgrade and remodel lecture halls and classrooms on the main campus,” said Douglas Walker, senior associate athletics director for external affairs at A&M, in a statement.Another rainmaker, UT-Austin’s athletics program forked over $2.3 million – including $117,745.04 to lodge and feed potential football recruits for a week, and $20,483.50 on a January dinner. More than half a million dollars were spent on private or chartered flights to recruit for UT-Austin’s football and basketball teams; A&M’s athletic program put about $1 million toward a similar expense. Texas Tech, meanwhile, spent $1.8 million on recruiting in the 2016-2017 academic year – near double what they spent a decade prior – with some of the expenses going to scout for basketball players in Italy, France and Guam, and to hire an international scouting service. They also spent $43,625 on flights with one private aviation company.The other Texas schools play in lower-profile conferences that don’t generate the same revenue from ticket purchases or television distribution deals. Those colleges spent less than A&M, UT-Austin and Texas Tech, but their recruiting costs have seen a similar rate of growth.Texas State and UTSA, for example, have each seen their recruiting expenses increase by more than 174 percent in the past decade. Spokespeople for the schools, which each pumped roughly half a million into recruiting efforts last year, said the increase is in part due to the creation and expansion of sports programs there.Texas State’s program received a $27.8 million infusion from student fees and institutional funds last year, and UTSA’s got $17.4 million. Shelby Knowles for The Texas TribuneKyle Field, Texas A&M’s football stadium in College Station, on March 26, 2018. A “proxy measure of quality”Spokespeople for UTSA and Texas State said that the spending is a worthwhile investment, one that can pay dividends off the field.“There’s this proxy measure of the quality of the university that’s somehow tied up with its athletics,” said Eric Algoe, a vice president at Texas State. “We can debate whether that’s right or wrong, but it’s perceived as a measure of quality out there in middle America.”Ignoring that fact, he said, can harm “your ability to do other things that having a national reputation might allow you to do: like get external funding for grants; like get big gifts to the university from our philanthropic supporters; like attract the best and brightest students from around the country,” Algoe said. “All of those things are served by having a prominent athletic program that you know is on ESPN, that is getting reported on in USA Today.”About a decade ago, Texas State students voted to move their athletics program to a different tier – and agreed to impose fees on themselves to enable the jump. Those fees now tack an added $20 per semester credit hour on to students’ bills – about $480 a year for a full-time student.Around the same time, a similar vote was taken at UTSA. A 2007 referendum – “held to help gauge support of a football program,” according to Kyle Stephens, a spokesperson for the athletics department there – received ‘yes’-es from two-thirds of the students who voted, and the school was given license to start a football program in 2008.“The addition of football, along with a transition to a higher-profile conference affiliation for all 17 sports, necessitated aggressive recruiting to be competitive” and a greater investment in coaches’ salaries, Stephens said.Algoe, describing the similar circumstance at Texas State, said: “I think that the student fee approach is really the most transparent way of funding your athletic program. It’s honest, it’s transparent, everybody understands what they’re paying and why they’re paying it.” He later said, “the only thing that might land us in the news more than athletics spending would be a large percentage tuition increase.” In exchange for the fees they pay, students at both schools receive free entry to home football games and other athletic events on campus – and they benefit from what Algoe described as the “intangible” benefits that college-sports can bring: an uptick in school spirit, alumni engagement, and brand-name recognition.“Finances is one important part,” Algoe said, “but there’s a lot of important things that go into assessing the quote-unquote value of an athletics program.”“As an alumni, one of the things that most powerfully connects former students to the university is a successful athletics program,” he said. “Athletics play a really big part in the social fabric of the institution and the surrounding community.” Private jets, chartered cars, visits to fancy restaurants.College coaches in Texas and across the country are fanning out, like they do every spring, to high school football stadiums and basketball courts to recruit the most promising players to their teams. But over the past decade, the cost of doing that has mounted. At eight public schools in Texas that participate in the highest level of college sports, recruiting costs have increased 131 percent on average since the 2007-2008 academic year, according to financial reports filed with the NCAA.Last year, those schools funneled a combined $9.8 million into recruiting the best high school players to their teams.The stakes are high. Landing top athletes can lead to winning seasons and championships – which, in turn, can flood a campus with increased revenue from tickets, merchandise sales and big alumni donations.“If you want excellence, you have to invest in it,” said Lisa Campos, athletics director at the University of Texas at San Antonio. “Students recognize that an athletic program serves as the front door to a university and attracts potential students, supporters and donors who might not otherwise be familiar with” it.Though college athletes aren’t paid, recruiting them is an enterprise that has many of the wine-and-dine hallmarks of the corporate world. Powerhouse programs, like those at Texas A&M University and the University of Texas at Austin, can afford those prices. They each put more than $2 million toward recruiting last year, while raking in millions more in revenue.But recruiting costs are also rising at other Texas schools that compete in the Football Bowl Subdivision: the University of Houston, the University of North Texas, the University of Texas at El Paso, UTSA, Texas State University and Texas Tech University.Unlike A&M’s and UT-Austin’s athletics programs – which are so profitable they can generate revenue for other initiatives on campus – the programs at those six schools can’t sustain themselves financially. Last year, those six athletics programs were subsidized by a combined $116 million in student fees and other institutional funds.
Submitted to the AFRO by Dr. Kaye Wise WhiteheadAt any given moment, there are about a half a million stories that need to be told about the reality of growing up and trying to grow old in Baltimore City. Stories about racial and economic inequality; about predatory policing and structural racism; about health disparities and food apartheid; about some of the people who died, like Freddie Grey and Tyrone West, Taylor Hayes and Wadell Tate; and, about all of the people who are trying to live. In the book of Acts, the apostle Paul tells his fellow shipmates that an angel told him that the ship was going to crash and in order for them to survive, they would need to hang onto the broken pieces and make their way to shore. This is what it feels like trying to grow up and grow old in some neighborhoods in our city—you do everything you can to hang onto the broken pieces and try like hell to make it to the shore.Dr. Karsonya Wise Whitehead (Courtesy Photo)Life in Baltimore City is complicated. It is challenging and hard. It is racially segregated and economically divided. It is a tale of two cities—one mostly White and the other mostly Black, separate and unequal. I believe that in order to understand the deep sense of helplessness, hopelessness, and malaise that hangs like a cloud over certain parts of our city, you must intentionally spend some time in both Baltimores. You have to visit the schools, the corner stores, and the churches. You have to catch the buses and walk the streets. You have to try and see what it feels like to hang onto the broken pieces and what it feels like when you do not have to do this. This is what I have been doing for the past five months as I have been conducting my unofficial ethnographic study of Baltimore’s hypersegregated Black neighborhoods. I have been trying to understand what life is like within the Black Butterfly, trying to find some answers to the questions that I have been wrestling with since 2015 when a Harvard University study concluded that out of the nation’s 100 largest jurisdictions, children born in poverty in Baltimore City have the worst chances of ever escaping it.As much as possible, I spend my time talking to young people, asking them questions and trying to listen to them. I want to see the world from their perspective. I want to hear their stories and in some small way, help to shoulder their pain. Part of the reason why I do this is because of Jason, a ninth grade student from Frederick Douglass High School. I met him in the hallway last year when I hosted a teach-in at his school. I asked him (like I asked all of the students that day) what his plans were for his life and what did he want to be when he grew up. At first, he did not respond. He turned and leaned up against the locker. He sighed and checked his phone. I just stood there, quiet, hoping that he would answer me. “My father is dead.” he said, “My brother is dead. I had two cousins, they got shot. My uncles are locked up. What do I want to be when I grow up? Nothing. I’m from Baltimore, I’m already dead.”I did not say anything. He looked at me and then turned and walked away. I wanted to go after him. I wanted to talk to him and tell him that he was going to be ok. I wanted to ensure him that he could make it, that I was going to help him, and that together we could change his future. I wanted to do and say all of this, but I did not. I felt overwhelmed. Standing in the hallway, it was hard to breathe and hard to imagine a different way forward. His life, according to the data, was being shaped by racially segregated neighborhoods, poverty, poor schools, subpar housing, drugs, gangs and a history of racism; his response showed that he had been listening, he had been watching, and he is no longer waiting for someone or something to come along and save him. He did not believe that he could be saved and, on that day, standing in the hallway, listening to his story, I failed to tell him that he could. I will not fail again.Karsonya Wise Whitehead is the #blackmommyactivist and an associate professor of communication and African and African American studies at Loyola University Maryland. She is the host of “Today With Dr. Kaye” on WEAA 88.9 FM and the author of the forthcoming “Dispatches from Baltimore: The Birth of the Black Mommy Activist.” She lives in Baltimore City with her husband and their two sons.The opinions on this page are those of the writers and not necessarily those of the AFRO.Send letters to The Afro-American • 1531 S. Edgewood St. Baltimore, MD 21227 or fax to 1-877-570-9297 or e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.