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Walter Williams: Performance-Based Sports Model Can Rescue Blacks from Excuse-Making Progressives

Walter Williams: Performance-Based Sports Model Can Rescue Blacks from Excuse-Making Progressives


In a recent column, conservative commentator and economist Walter E. Williams confronts the patronizingly low academic standards inflicted on black students by progressives and explains why he believes sports may offer an antidote to combat such destructive “kid glove” treatment.

Asserting that a culture of victimhood and of special favors–such as racial quotas and preferences–“has been tried in education for decades and has revealed itself a failure,” Williams suggests that an alternative approach, specifically, the performance-driven, “ruthless dog-eat-dog” competitive nature of sports, may well translate to and hold promise for future success in the classroom.  

According to Williams, the fact that blacks not only excel–but in some cases dominate certain sports–merits special attention because it “raises certain questions” about “outcomes.” 

And such “outcomes,” Williams argues, largely ignore and defy progressive orthodoxy all-consumed with the equality of results: 

In sports, when have you heard a coach explain or excuse a black player’s poor performance by blaming it on a “legacy of slavery” or on that player’s being raised in a single-parent household? When have you heard sports standards called racist or culturally biased? I have yet to hear a player, much less a coach, speak such nonsense. In fact, the standards of performance in sports are just about the most ruthless anywhere. Excuses are not tolerated. 

Williams submits that since blacks have “demonstrated an ability to thrive in an environment of ruthless competition and demanding standards” like in sports, it stands to reason that there might be potential for “some gains” from implementing “a similar school environment.”  

More specifically, Williams speculates that if there were schools where students were “loaded up with homework, frequent tests and demanding, top-notch teachers” benefits would be obvious because “there would be no excuses for anything” and either “youngsters cut the mustard, or they’re kicked out and put into some other school.” 

Ultimately, Williams believes that if “we” were to reject the progressive agenda of excuse-making and dependency, and instead were to follow a sports-modeled approach in the classroom, some students might well rise to the occasion: 

I’m betting that a significant number of black youngsters would prosper in such an environment, just as they prosper in the highly competitive sports… environment. 

For Williams, the sports-to-education metaphor is an effective and easily understandable means to expose a progressive agenda that is both patronizing and counterproductive to the black community.

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