Africana Studies and Diversity: All Shapes, Sizes, and Colors of HBCU Athletic Programs: The Sporting HBCU Diaspora—Cultural Convergence and Politics of Divergence
Sports also served as a platform for assimilation for Blacks during a time when they were largely excluded from mainstream society. Several VSRUWDGYRFDWHVVXFKDV6DPXHO$UFKHUIRUPHUSURIHVVRUDQGWKH¿UVW football coach at Atlanta Baptist (now known as Morehouse College), and J.B. Watson promoted the idea that sports developed character, leadership, strong work ethic, and discipline among students who were athletes (Wiggins and Miller 2003). Samuel Archer explained how sports served as assimilation tool for Blacks because it challenged widespread myths DERXWWKHLUDELOLW\WRKDYHVHOIFRQWURODQGLQWHJULW\+HVDLG³7KHFROOHJH man ordinarily has a high sense of honor and is very sensitive about fair play and acts that are not sportsmanlike. If left to himself he will insist on WKHSULQFLSOH²¿UVWDJHQWOHPDQWKHQDQDWKOHWH´DVFLWHGLQ:LJJLQVDQG 0LOOHU(VVHQWLDOO\DGYRFDWHVRI+%&8DWKOHWLFVIHOWHYHQLIE\ limited means, success in athletics would serve as a form of assimilation into America’s national pastimes of sport and higher education (Miller 1995). Yet, in reality this idea of muscular assimilationism would meet resistance from the dominant White culture as Blacks were still viewed as intellectually inferior despite their pronounced athletic accomplishments. In addition, HBCU athletic programs during the 1920s and 1930s also faced rising public scrutiny (similar to the Historically White Colleges and Universities [HWCU] counterparts) regarding the lack of faculty oversight of their athletic programs, the questionable integrity of athletic FRQWHVWVHJXQHWKLFDORI¿FLDWLQJUHFUXLWLQJFRDFKHV¶EHKDYLRUVHWF under emphasis on academic preparation and performance, and the violent nature of football (Miller 1995; Wiggins 2000; Wiggins and Miller 2003).