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The False Promise of Basketball As the Best Route Out of Inner-City Proverty for Young Blacks:

Surveys have shown that up to one half of all young black basketball players in inner-city high schools believe that they have a chance to make it as professionals in the National Basketball Association. But these beliefs are based on myth more than reality.

Of the approximately 200,000 blacks currently playing high school basketball only about one percent will receive an athletic scholarship to college. Of those who receive a college scholarship, perhaps one in 50 will play professionally after they leave college.

In contrast, more than 4,000 black first-year students enrolled at the nation's 30 highest-ranked universities this past fall. These 4,000 black first-year students at our nation's 30 highest-ranked universities are nearly triple the number of black students nationwide who receive college basketball scholarships each year at all colleges and universities in the United States.

Tens of thousands of other African-American college students — many from poor, inner-city neighborhoods — will attend top-ranked liberal arts colleges and academically strong second-tier universities. A large majority of these academically talented black students will earn diplomas from these prestigious universities and go on to successful careers in law, business, academia, and other professions. Thus, higher education offers blacks a far wider avenue of exit from urban poverty than does basketball or, for that matter, all athletic pursuits combined.

For young blacks, athletics is a long shot. Higher education is the closest thing they have to a sure shot.

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