"Rags to Riches" The Upward Mobility of Black Athletes




Tatum, Kennedy

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My thesis is attempting to answer one main question, “do Black college football athletes view the National Football League as a way to achieve upward mobility?” Throughout the history of sports “rags to riches” has been a glorified narrative. Often the media highlights young Black athletes from lower socio-economic statuses whose dreams of playing in the NFL has come true. In college the athlete excelled on the field, became a draft pick, and is viewed as a success story. The professional athlete is then showcased on ESPN’s “30 for 30” in a multi-million dollar home celebrating the “rags to riches” myth. In order to answer the central question, it is important to understand the history of Black athletes in sports. Today it is hard to imagine a time when Blacks were not allowed to play on college or professional football teams. Black men have struggled to be acknowledged for their gifts on and off the field. Black athletes finally have the opportunity to thrive on large platforms and it is important to celebrate the African American success. However, overtime sports have seemingly captivated the African American community. Sports have become the golden ticket or the pathway to success for some young Black athletes. Sports are viewed as an opportunity to achieve success and an alternative avenue to provide for their family. This dream is fueling the idea behind my thesis.


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