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On Running and Jumping

By Jay Thomas Willis

Senior Columnist and Political Analyst

The Mid-South Tribune and the Black Information Highway

When I was in college, a lady English professor made the comment, “Anyone can run and jump.” I don’t remember the context, but she caught me by surprise. It seems that she was responding to a comment one student had made. I thought she had made a pejorative comment toward Blacks, since Blacks are exceptional at running and jumping. I was the only Black in the class, and felt uncomfortable anyway.

            I figured she was trying to say that Blacks aren’t good at academics, while they may be good at running and jumping. These are just the thoughts that ran through my head. Some others have always felt that Blacks weren’t particularly good at academics, but shined at running and jumping. The main reason they’re good at running and jumping is because they’re usually presented with many opportunities to exercise that option.

            Usually Blacks excel in whatever the area, as long as they’re allowed to develop in the situation. Blacks excel in certain sports because they’re allowed to do so, and are given the wherewithal to do so. They usually excel in basketball, baseball, football, and track and field; because these areas are the most common sports in Black schools, are the ones played most often in the Black community, and are the ones least expensive to train and develop in. Golf for example is an expensive proposition, as well as tennis, and these sports are usually not available in Black high schools. Even gymnastics is not a varsity sport in most Black schools. But when Blacks are given the experience they are usually exceptional.

            Anyone who watched the 2012 Olympics knows that simply anyone can’t run and jump. It takes skill, training, art, and technique. In addition, you have to start training at an early age, and be persistent in that training. You also have to have stamina, heart, perseverance, and determination to be good at it.

            As far as sports go, I would have had difficulty playing baseball, since I never had an opportunity to play. I lived on an isolated-rural-dirt farm, and there was no little league. I spent most of my time doing chores. As a youth I never had an opportunity to play with other children. In school we played at recess, but I was nervous and jittery with the ball, soon I quit trying to play. Later I found out the reason why I couldn’t catch and hit the ball was because of my poor hand-eye coordination and my nervousness. It probably also had something to do with my manual dexterity. In addition, I couldn’t see the ball coming. If I had had some sports glasses, I could have given a much better performance.

            I could have been a decent basketball player. As it was I could shoot the ball fairly well, but my dribbling left something to be desired. The basic reason why I couldn’t dribble was because I never had any equipment in which to practice: I never had a basketball with air, and my goal consisted of a bucket with a sack for a net. Even if my ball had air, I still had no even surface to practice dribbling. I did play for a short while on the junior varsity team. I was a bit nervous, but I could have mastered it had I got started early enough, had some proper equipment, and had persistent practice.

            The coach wouldn’t consider me for track and field or football. I kept approaching him but he gave me no encouragement. He had a position in mind for me that he thought I was too small to play, so he gave me no opportunity to play at all. I could have played football and ran track, even without any extensive background in sports, because I was quick as a snake. I could have played on my natural ability. Catching the football wouldn’t have been my forte, but I could have been a good runner. If I could have mastered catching the ball, I could have been an excellent punt returner.

            We had no physical education in our school. Our physical education consisted of going up on a large field and horsing around. There were several classes on the field at any one particular time. Usually the coach would give the non-varsity students a ball to play with, and that was our physical education. He would insist that we stayed out of the way of his varsity team. We had only one coach, so if he didn’t like you, it was over for sports.

            When I got to college I had no notion of playing sports. I took a physical education course in track and field, and the coach after seeing me run, offered me a four-year scholarship. I figured it was too late for me in sports. I refused the scholarship. It’s too bad, because I could have possibly been in one of the earlier Olympics.

            I could have even been a better writer had I had the appropriate training during my school days. I don’t think writing is something any of our teachers expected any of us to ever do. I didn’t really think about writing until a few years ago, and I’m close to my sixty-fifth birthday. In school I simply did what it took to get by, some of the blame is mine. It would have been a good idea for me to major in writing in college. I feel writing could have been an area where I excelled. And I’m not just crying foul by making unwarranted excuses.

            So, do whatever you have the talent to do. Get an early start, practice persistently, and be sure you make use of your God given talent.


 *The above is on the Black Paper lane on the Black Information Highway and The Mid-South Tribune ONLINE. Mr. Willis is the author of twenty-three books, fifteen professional journal articles, a number of magazine articles, and over 300 newspaper articles. His books can be reviewed at www.jaythomaswillis.com .  Email him at jaytwillis@gmail.com  or MSTnews@prodigy.net or BlackInfoHwy@prodigy.net . Also, travel on the Jay Thomas Willis lane on the Black Information Highway and The Mid-South Tribune ONLINE at www.blackinformationhighway.com . Black Papers are presented as thinking pieces and studies to stimulate dialogue and; therefore, do not necessarily reflect any editorial stand of the Black Information Highway and The Mid-South Tribune. Welcome, Travelers!





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