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What do you think of when you hear “All-American”? Most people probably think of an ideal American person that is white, blonde,  and perhaps has blue eyes. Adding a sports perspective to the “All-American” title increases its complex connotations. The “All-American” term in sports conveys a completely different image. When you hear All-American for basketball or football, the image that most people probably think of is a buff, athletic African-American.
Why is it that there is such a disparity between these two images, even though the term is the same? It is very interesting how one term can conjure two completely different images. One image is the white poster child, and All-American boy (or girl). The other image is the imposing, athletic, African-American basketball player or football player. For example, here is the roster for the 2013 McDonald’s All-American High School Basketball team: Anthony Barber, Keith Frazier, Isaiah Hicks, Kasey Hill, Demetrius Jackson, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Dakari Johnson, Kennedy Meeks, Julius Randle, Wayne Selden, Noah Vonieh, Chris Walker, Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Bird, Aaron Gordon, Isaac Hamilton, Aaron Harrison, Andrew Harrison, Matt Jones, Marcus Lee, Jarell Martin, Jabari Parker, Bobby Portis, Nigel Williams-Goss, and James Young.
To no surprise, all twenty-five of these young men are all black. It is ironic how they are deemed as “All-American” because they are so good at basketball. What separates them from all the other young black men and women? Why are these athletes given this title as “All-American” when others are not? In today’s society, why are sports so highly regarded that they have the ability to change some people’s identities and perceptions of what it means to be “All-American”?

3 responses to ““All-American”

  1. There is a class and racial division between the image of the blonde hair blue eyed All-American and the All-American athlete. The image of the blonde hair blue eyed All-American represents someone of privilege who was able to make his fortune with ease. The image of the All-American athlete represents someone who had to make a much greater effort to achieve success and is therefore seen as inferior to the blonde hair blue eyed, who never had to make such an effort. Because of white privilege it is much more likely for someone who is white to easily achieve success than for someone of a different race.

  2. Nice blog Darren! I really liked your analysis of what it means to be an All-American athlete. I loved how in-depth your analysis was and how ironic that the entire roster of the team was African-American. I also liked how you connected your topic to high school sports.

  3. This goes back to the article about Olympian human imports. Within certain spaces, such as the sports world in this case, African Americans are treated better only because of their athleticism.

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