The Emergence of African-Americans

Discussion in 'Soccer in the USA' started by beineke, Sep 16, 2003.

  1. beineke

    beineke New Member

    Sep 13, 2000
    There has been a lot of discussion about whether our youth programs are open enough to players with roots in Mexico and Central America. There has been less discussion about African-Americans.

    Recent senior national teams have certainly had some significant African-American contributors, but let's look at their background ... Regis and Stewart were developed in Europe. Pope, Sanneh, and Cobi were developed in the US, but all were outsiders to the soccer scene -- Pope and Jones began college as walk-ons, while Sanneh ended up at Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

    Even at the Olympic level, we haven't had much of an African-American presence...
    1996 Olympic team -- Eddie Pope was the only African-American; Hamisi Amani-Dove was an alternate.
    2000 Olympic team -- Evan Whitfield and Tim Howard sat the bench; Damarcus Beasley was an alternate. Brian West was also in the pool.

    This brings us to the 2004 Olympics. Most of us consider Beasley, Onyewu, Clark, and Buddle as important team members. There are several more African-American players in the pool ... Ricky Lewis, Nelson Akwari, Scot Thompson, David Stokes, and possibly Eddie Johnson.

    Most of these guys were members of youth regional or national teams ... this seems like an important sign of progress.
  2. CG

    CG Member

    Jul 25, 2001

    I don't think Evan Whitfield is black.
  3. Treetaliano

    Treetaliano Member

    Jun 29, 2002
    San Diego
    neither is Tim Howard
  4. CG

    CG Member

    Jul 25, 2001

    I think Tim has one black parent. His dad since I haven't seen too many black Hungarians.
  5. Fonsos

    Fonsos Member

    Sep 21, 2000
    An Important Sign of progress was our performance in last summer's World Cup, not the race of the kids playing.
    As an African American from Chicago and a product of it's public school system, I was fortunate to have played in one the historically toughest conferences within the city, club ball during college and now coaching one of the few youth teams that is actually from Chicago. The big deal here is the large number of kids who have an opportunity to play due to the large numbers of people who are fans of the game and can now step up to the plate and start coaching or assisting in the development of the game. I'm talking people born and raised in the States and have been footy fans their entire lives, no disrepect to imports. Another reason for more diverse teams actually has to do with the current selection process. It's not as 'ol boyish network as in the past or even when I was a youth. A kid trying out for an ODP team now days actually has a chance to be chosen fairly versus in the past where many of us can cite stories of kids being chosen based on their clubs, parents selection, etc...

    The thing we should be afraid of are the damn soccer schools. We can't allow what has happened to Hockey to take place with Soccer. Give the kids the ball and let them play. It's what I see in my neighborhood everyday on my way home.
  6. 18214

    18214 New Member

    Aug 18, 2003
    new jersey
    Timmy is what we call a mullato....Dad is black and Mom is white (Hungarian)
  7. Temudjin

    Temudjin New Member

    Apr 28, 2003
    Alexandria, VA
    Don't forget - kids like to play the same sports that their childhood heroes do. I know it is a chicken and egg sort of argument, but until more African-American youth see people similar to them playing the sport, a critical mass that would provide a steady pipeline of junior players will not develop. Some argue that the price of the equipment and joining travel/select squads is the major barrier but I can't believe that the per-capita income in most South/Central American countries approaches that of the U.S, yet the junior programs continue to flourish.
  8. emailryoung

    emailryoung Member

    Feb 6, 2003
    I'm not sure what you mean. Please elaborate...
  9. FlashMan

    FlashMan Member

    Jan 6, 2000
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    This post cheered me up. Thanks!!
  10. FlashMan

    FlashMan Member

    Jan 6, 2000
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    But some of that is already happening, isn't it?

    In the WC you had Beasley, Sanneh, Stewart, Pope (off the top of my head). That's a pretty strong contingent right there.

    In MLS you have many players (off the top of my head):

    Dallas - Gbandi, Johnson, Curtis, the new South African guy

    Chi - Beasley, Whitfield, Ralph

    Metros - Pope

    Rapids - Liberian guy

    Crew - Buddle, West, Cunningham

    Then of course there's Adu coming up in the wings.

    Admittedly these aren't all African-AMERICANS, but the color of their skin is largely black, so from that point of view there's still something "to look up to".

    A lot of advances have been made it seems to me on this front.
  11. Fonsos

    Fonsos Member

    Sep 21, 2000
    True but that's based more on their hero and not the race of the hero. If that's the case then there should be a ton of Franco-Afro kids playing basketball in France due in large part to Tony Parker (San Antonio Spurs). I can assure you that a number of kids in France are huge basketball fans and play the game because of Michael Jordan and not Tony Parker. I mean,why would a French kid sport a North Carolina jersey with the #23? I'm using France as an example to prove my point. In my case two of my favorite players as a kid were Socrates and Platini. Platini although a French Citizen is of Italian descent and I believe that Socrates is Afro-Brazilian but they're race didn't have anything to do with me being a huge fan of either player and with most of us it's the same thing.

    Equipment and lack of travel squads in my opinion was never the issue.
  12. denver_mugwamp

    denver_mugwamp New Member

    Feb 9, 2003
    Denver, Colorado
    Excellent comments...

    I would be curious how you feel about Chivas starting a "Hispanic oriented" team in MLS. Does this seem like a step back?
  13. JohnR

    JohnR Member+

    Jun 23, 2000
    Chicago, IL
    African-Americans & Soccer

    Let's backtrack a little bit -

    In 1970s, suburban (i.e., nonethnic) white kid played about as much soccer as did the typical black kid. Zero.

    Now, suburban white kids play a lot of soccer. Suburban black kids also play soccer if they live in predominantly white areas, but if they live in black suburbs or the cities, they don't.

    OK, so what's up?

    Well, the white kids didn't start playing soccer because of role models. What role models? The vast majority of growth occurred in the 1980s and early 1990s -- post-NASL, pre-MSL. It is an irony that the youth "soccer boom" occurred precisely when there were no domestic professional leagues, and therefore no visible role models for the kids.

    They started playing for other reasons ... and this is where I get stumped. Why did soccer get big in the suburbs? Why is lacrosse now booming? Why is baseball declining among African-Americans? Although God knows, with Barry Bonds and Frank Thomas and Gary Sheffield and Derek Jeter and many, many more, there are plenty of role models.

    I don't have the answers to those questions. Sorry. Just trying to point out that the subject of role models is probably not the key to the analysis.
  14. Brownswan

    Brownswan New Member

    Jun 30, 1999
    Port St. Lucie, FL
    If we get enough signatures can this be made into a law? :)

    May the voice of reason prevail!
  15. Fonsos

    Fonsos Member

    Sep 21, 2000
    Re: Excellent comments...

    Man this is altogether is a thread.
    I have serious issues with this and when I heard it, was mighty pissed about it. Step back is an understatement. It's an insult to soccer fans in the US period. This is what upsets me about the whole Chivas backed MLS side. We're talking about a club whom will not take on a none Mexican player. I'm talking born and raised in Mexico and Mexican. This is a fact. So, the MLS, a league that's still in its infancy adds a team to the mix who's parent company doesn't believe in diversity. See the hypocrisy? They'd have to change the adds boasting about the league's diversity. Couple this with the fact that a large number of Mexicans flat out hate Chivas, so now you've alienated a group of fans in another way, by bringing on board and embracing a team they hate.

    Not to mention that you've cast aside, again, your bread and butter which is the typical MLS fan. A true soccer fan, who may support another club but will always show up to watch their favorite MLS club whenevere they can and one who also tried to promote the league via word of mouth.
  16. Fonsos

    Fonsos Member

    Sep 21, 2000
    Re: African-Americans & Soccer

    There are a ton of African-American kids playing in the cities. There's an area in Chicago near the University of Chicago called Hyde Park and trust me the majority of the kids playing AYSO there are African American. Born and raised in the city. There are African American kids participating from the inner cities thanks to groups like Scores and the YMCA to name a few. Not to mention kids playing in the streets. Maybe not near you but I've seen this in Chicago and I'm sure it's happening in NY, LA and a few other major cities. I know that there are kids playing in St. Louis whom are African American in the parks and not in an organized league.
    Well, part of the reason stems from the flight of immigrants from the cities to the burbs. They may have not had a professional league in the US but if you were from a city and an immigrant, chances are that your folks were involed with the local social club, e.g. German American clubc, Italian-Amrerican clubs, etc... The liklihood (sp?) of a relative participating in a local ethnic league and following their favorite club from the old country
    more than likely rubbed onto junior and that's when the growth started and why is boomed in the burbs faster than in the city.
    I think LaCrosse is booming because of the same reasons I cited for soccer. Although in the case of LaCrosse I'd mention the fact that there are more people who played the game living around the country than in the past where LaCrosse seemed to be huge on the East Coast more than anywhere else.

    Baseball's participants have been declining for awhile and alot of them went to soccer or are participating in both. Baseball definitely isn't about race as much as a number of people are lead to believe.

    mod's note - made one format fix only.
  17. denver_mugwamp

    denver_mugwamp New Member

    Feb 9, 2003
    Denver, Colorado
    Re: Re: Excellent comments...

    Thanks, Fonsos. I have to say that I agree with you. Mexico is about 30 years behind the US in terms of civil rights issues. (In case somebody wonders why there is descrimination in Mexico when they're all Mexicans, you have to understand that there is a pecking order with European-looking at the top, then average Mexicans and native "Indian" peoples last.) If Chivas tries to do this team and doesn't do their homework, they're going to run into a buzzsaw of litigation. You simply cannot refuse to hire someone due solely to national origin. It'll be interesting to see how it plays out.
  18. Fonsos

    Fonsos Member

    Sep 21, 2000
    Re: Re: Re: Excellent comments...

    Unfortunately, it's atypical of most Carribbean, Central and Latin American Countries in regards to the type of racism you describe. It's alot worse than most of us here in the USA can imagine. All you gotta do is look at the national Univision or Telemundo news telecast to see it.
  19. denver_mugwamp

    denver_mugwamp New Member

    Feb 9, 2003
    Denver, Colorado
    Re: Re: Re: Re: Excellent comments...

    Maybe we should give them a better idea of what to look for. Look at the average Mexican newscaster. Then look at the nearest Mexican immigrant. Look again at the newscaster. See any differences? I was in Peru a couple of years ago and it seemed like 95% of the population looked like Incas. But you never saw anyone who looked like that on any of the television shows. When I first turned on the TV in my room, I thought all the channels were from another country.
  20. Colin Grabow

    Colin Grabow New Member

    Jul 22, 1999
    Washington, DC
    Re: African-Americans & Soccer

    I started playing in about 83', right when the NASL folded and the soccer boom started, and speaking from personal experience these are the reasons my parents pushed me into soccer:

    * you get plenty of exercise
    * not a lot of expensive equipment to buy (well, that's the way it used to be)
    * don't have to be particularly tall or wide to be successful
    * less likely to get hurt than playing football.
  21. bofahey

    bofahey Member

    Sep 1, 2001
    Washington, DC

    Sanneh went to high school with Manny and Gerard Lagos, who each won the National High School Player of the Year awards their senior years. Sanneh was a key starter at St. Paul Academy, which won multiple state titles while he was there, and also played on the same club team as the Lagos brothers (the St. Paul Blackhawks). He was coached at SPA by Buzz Lagos, now coach of the MN Thunder.

    I'm not sure why you would say he was an outsider to the soccer scene in any sense.
  22. stanleyt

    stanleyt Member

    Dec 7, 1998
    Harlem, USA
    Re: African-Americans & Soccer

    Sure, there are plenty of role models for African-Americans in MLB, it's just that MLB isn't as popular as it used to be amongst all Americans.

    The financial attraction to the sport is one thing but overall, African-Americans are flocking to other sports leagues like the NFL, NBA, the NHL and even MLS. The "cool" cache is really the issue. Baseball, despite the wailings of Costas and George Will, isn't the national pasttime anymore. The modern game is tedious and not as interesting as it used to be. The way $$$ is distributed in the league, you've the usual suspects vying for the championship in October. That turns people off and these attitudes often trickle down to the kids.

    I think the key thing is that due to MLS(and the improvement of the A-league)most kids now have something to shoot for in their own country. One would think with the visibility of today's MLS players of color, kids now can see players who look like them on a weekly basis and thus provide inspiration. The success and visibility of the USMNT also provides an alternative to the Bonds & Jeters on MLB.

    To a certain extent, it's all about what's cool right now and at this moment, Baseball ain't.
  23. JohnR

    JohnR Member+

    Jun 23, 2000
    Chicago, IL
    Youth Soccer in Chicago

    Fonsos -

    Actually, I lived for 3 years in Hyde Park. These days, I'm in Wilmette.

    I am less optimistic about African-American participation in youth soccer than are you.

    Forget club soccer, where African-Americans are scarce. In addition to club soccer, my kid has played in, oh, at least 30 suburban and city small-field tournaments over the past 4 years. In those tournaments, he has probably played 15 Hispanic teams and has seen dozens more. But again, not a single African-American team; indeed, has rarely seen any team of any kind with more than one black kid on it.

    So where are these African-American prospects? Playing AYSO and a bit of street soccer in Hyde Park? That would seem to be it, because I can't figure out where else to find them.

    And that does not sound like a promising development program to me. I have a pretty good idea of what AYSO soccer looks like. I also have a pretty good idea of how the Chicago high school soccer teams do when playing the top suburban teams. Not pretty.

    I am optimistic about both the quality of the U.S. Hispanic player and of the eventual incorporation of the Hispanic player into mainstream U.S. soccer (i.e., the youth national teams). I am not as optimistic about seeing a large amount of African-American participation at the highest level.
  24. beineke

    beineke New Member

    Sep 13, 2000
    Re: Re: The Emergence of African-Americans

    Despite Sanneh's accomplishments and obvious talent, he never made it past the ODP state level. Presumably, he wasn't recruited by any of the big soccer schools, either.

    For his own part, Cobi Jones also played on a great youth club team. But he wasn't even invited to walk on at UCLA.

    We're talking about two of the very best US players of their generation, and the soccer establishment didn't view them as legitimate prospects ... that's absurd.
  25. PScott8502

    PScott8502 Member

    Oct 12, 2002
    50th state
    I think the NBA/NFL vs MLB is all about the marketing of the leagues themselves. Where NBA and NFL sort of welcome the Hip Hop image, MLB... well it doesnt.

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