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Black People Don’t Have Ice Rinks In the Hood

local culture


Wesleyan University


Black People Don’t Have Ice Rinks In the Hood

-- My take on black people in predominantly white sports.

Sherly Francois


Imagine kids playing ice hockey, golf, lacrosse, or even rowing. I bet nine out of ten times, you imagined a bunch of white kids partaking in those activities. Why is that? Because black people don’t have rinks in the hood. It’s too often that black kids are constrained by social and financial barriers that restrict access to certain athletic teams. You’d see a thousand public football fields and basketball courts before you saw a public ice hockey rink.

One reason explaining that would be the cost. Take basketball for instance, all you really need is a pair of gym shoes, a ball, and a makeshift rim whereas in hockey there are more necessary equipment such as: sticks, pads, pucks, and skates. Not to mention having access to an ice rink and the fees. With hockey in particular there’s also another crucial skill you need to have in order to play: the ability to skate. And honey let me tell you, ice skating lessons are not cheap. And whose mama is going to pay for that?

Apart from just the financial constraints, there are also social barriers for black people playing in predominantly white sports as well. As a kid myself, I knew which sports were “white sports” and which ones were black. Where I grew up all the black kids played football, basketball, track and field, or danced. I hadn’t even heard of lacrosse until I went to a predominately white boarding school for high school.

That within itself changes what sports you end up pursuing. Let’s say by chance you end up joining a sports team and being the only black person on it; it would be hard not to feel out of place. You are instantly put in a position where you always have to defend black people and put your teammates in check when they say something crazy. I can tell you from experience that it’s exhausting. And even if you have the most liberal, understanding team there is, that doesn’t account for the racist and inappropriate remarks you hear from your competitors and spectators.

Basically, it’s hard being black, and even harder being a black athlete on a predominately white team. But as the only black woman on my team, I say it’s time we take over. Recently, I’ve seen a number of black athletes playing on predominantly white sports teams and our numbers continue to grow. Though there are non-profit organizations similar to the ones I benefit from that provide financial assistance or free equipment, they only reach a few out of the thousands of kids who need it.

So in an effort to change the stereotype, support your black friends who play on those sports teams, try something different yourself, and exhaust every resource you can to find places where you can practice your sport affordably. And if you really want to play a sport, find a way to play.