College Sports

All In For Him by Gwen Thielges: Book Review

 

Gwen Thielges

(Photo Credit: Gwen Thielges)

In All In For Him: Twenty-One Devotions For College Athletes, Gwen Thielges offers college student-athletes a 21-day devotional that empowers them to combine strong athletic preparation and performance with robust spiritual practice and commitment. For Thielges, any athlete, including a college student-athlete, cannot become a complete athlete without building and buttressing his or her spiritual life and foundation. Intending this book to inspire college athletes to develop a closer relationship with Christ and use their platform to display His glory, the author wants these athletes to maximize the potential of their platform to spread Christ’s message and win souls for Him. This book aims to help college student-athletes practice daily gratitude for the opportunity Jesus has given them to perform athletically and be a part of an athletic team.

Athletes, at any level, will find the “Day 1” devotion quite useful: begin the season with a prayer for God’s favor.  The “Day 3” devotion calls for them to abandon negative thinking and discourse and refuse to surround themselves with negativity in any form. On “Day 7,” Thielges makes an important point for college student-athletes to pray for their coaches. As any athlete knows, and the author highlights, a coach is a critical dimension of any team’s success, for if the team is to experience success, it will need a coach who employs principle and discipline.

In a postmodern epoch where many college student-athletes demonstrate such egregious selfishness, “Day 8” provides a sobering reminder of their need to commit themselves to humility and place their confidence in Christ. If athletes, as “Day 10” explains, walk in humility and in the confidence of God, they will serve as role models for their community, nation, and world. Living a humble life, one where confidence in God is at the center of the athlete’s life, he or she will have a proper understanding of how to conduct himself or herself when using social media, as revealed in “Day 12” and “Day 13.”  

Thielges encourages college student-athletes to win with grace. When one considers how nasty, how vicious college sports have increasingly become, her words are timely, calling these athletes, specifically Christian athletes, to serve as an example of what grace looks like in athletic competition. For the author, when athletes win with grace, it’s not about belittling their opponents but more about thanking God for the opportunity to perform successfully and more about showing gratitude for the spirited competition their opponents gave them.

As a coach and scholar who focuses on student-athletes, I am happy to see this book published. For this book to reach its maximum value, it must reach the hands of as many college student-athletes as possible. The publisher and/or author needs to send a copy of this book to college athletic departments across the nation. While this will cost some money to do, I’m confident that this will be a profitable investment, leading to a significant increase in sales, and more importantly, strengthening the lives of college student-athletes.  

To have an interest in purchasing and reading this book, one, most likely, will need to an authentic investment in student-athletes, especially college student-athletes, for its written to and for them. Having said that, though, I would recommend that coaches, athletic administrators, higher education administrators, advisors, mentors, and tutors of college student-athletes, parents of current and future college student-athletes, and serious college sports fans read this book. By reading this book, one gains a stronger understanding of what college student-athletes need, the challenges they face, and how to maximize their impact on and off the field.

Book Crash provided a copy of this book to facilitate this review.

Dr. Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison  

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Black Male College Student-Athletes and Race-based Stereotypes

College Basketball Player

(Photo Credit: Riverside Hawks Education)

In “Theorizing on the Stereotyping of Black Male Student-Athletes,” Hodge, Burden, Jr., Robinson, and Bennett, III (2008) explained that Black male athletes have been perceived as athletically gifted and intellectually inferior since the 19th century to the present day.  They disclosed that the purpose of their paper was to theorize about race-based stereotyping of Black male college student-athletes.  The scholars relied upon tenets of psychological critical race theory to explore racial, social, economic, cultural and psychological factors that impact Black male college student-athletes’ academic and athletic experiences.  Hodge and colleagues divulged that a substantial body of research has identified that Black males who have participated in sport have been stereotyped.  They informed the reader that race-based stereotypic beliefs have been proven to impact Black male college student-athletes’ ability to meet their full athletic potential.  Many Black male college student-athletes have been found to sabotage their own athletic performances to attempt to evade negative stereotypes about them.

Hodge and colleagues (2008) noted that stereotypic beliefs have been found to result in a number of Black males at a young age believing in their athletic prowess over their intellectual capabilities.  The scholars made clear that people can unconsciously employ stereotypic beliefs.  They cited scholarship that indicated a large proportion of students of color have low academic achievement as a result of damaging intellectual stereotypes “directed toward and perceived cognitively” by them (p. 210).  The article also provided research that revealed that students of color have a deep fear of performing in ways that will affirm deleterious intellectual stereotypes about them, and this significant fear often contributes to their low academic achievement in higher education.  The scholars contended that Black youths are often not exposed to Black intellects, so this further results in an internalization of the false notion of their athletic superiority and intellectual inferiority.  The article offered empirical evidence that Blacks aspire to be professional athletes more so than Whites, and this tends to operate as a means of reaffirming race-based stereotypes about Blacks’ athletic superiority.

Hodge et al. (2008) posited that vastly different experiences between Black and White youths in education and sports are impacted by structural inequities in school and community resources.  They state, “For Black students and athletes, their often inequitable educational and sports experiences, compared to their White peers, typifies the prevalence and magnitude of racism in the US” (p. 212).

The integration of Black male college student-athletes into predominantly White institutions’ athletic teams emerged in the late 1960s and early 1970s because of a longing by these institutions to achieve significant economic revenue.  Hodge et al. (2008) asserted that Whites will “tolerate” and champion “racial advances” when they benefit from this tolerance and racial progress (p. 214).  When these Black male student-athletes arrive at these predominantly White higher education institutions, the scholars found that they are less likely to graduate than White student-athletes, and they academically underperform White student-athletes.  They demonstrated that many Black male student-athletes are placed at an academic disadvantage because of the limited resources available to prepare them for college at the high schools they attended.  The scholars argued that some Black male student-athletes devote too much attention to athletics and not enough to academics.

Conclusion

The article written by Hodge et al. (2008) evinces that higher education administrators and coaches have to engender policies and employ practices that fight against the toxic impact intellectual stereotypes have on Black male college student-athletes.  Before recruiting and admitting Black male college student-athletes, predominantly White institutions must ensure these student-athletes have the necessary preparation to graduate.  Predominantly White institutions must find ways to integrate Black male student-athletes into their academic culture, and don’t simply limit them to the fields and the courts they contribute their athletic labor.  With the dismal national graduation rates of Black male college student-athletes, more research should be devoted to helping higher education institutions develop ways to increase graduation rates for Black male college student-athletes.

Reference

Hodge, S.R., Burden Jr., J.W., Robinson, L.E., & Bennett III, R.A. (2008). Theorizing on the stereotyping of Black male student-athletes. Journal for the Study of Sports and Athletes in Education, 2(2), 203-226.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

That’s Why They Play the Game

You should never step on a court or field and think that you’ve already won a game before you play the game.  Coaches should never think that their players are so great that it’s not possible for their team to lose against an opponent who is not expected to win.  When you’re truly a great team, you prepare in practice for every team with the same level of intensity and with the goal of getting better and better.  It’s okay to step on a court or field and feel confident that you’re going to win, but you shouldn’t think that you’ve already won.  Upsets happen often because teams feel like they’ve already won before the game is played.

Coaches need to make sure they teach their teams how to win and lose with grace. When a team defeats you, don’t start trying to fight because you’re so upset that you lost.  If you’re a high school or college student-athlete, your unacceptable behavior after a win or loss can cause you a chance to play at the next level because people can be turned off with how you act after a win or loss. You have to understand that there are going to be times when you win and times when you’re going to lose.  Always maintain control of your attitude because your character matters at all times.

Demonstrating poor character after a win or loss can make people stop supporting you and make them not want to come see you play another game.  People don’t come to see you play with poor character—they come to see you display your talent with sportsmanship.

If you’re an arrogant coach, then you need to understand that your arrogance is going to cost your team a loss inevitably.  Arrogant coaches need to resign from their jobs because they don’t set the kind of example they need to for their team.  Arrogant coaches make everything about themselves and often close their ears from listening to good advice from others who can help them to improve their coaching and team.

Never make sports your life.  There are more important things in life than sports.

Play every game like it’s your last because it could very well be your last.  With the severe injuries that can and do occur during games, you have to understand that you may not have another chance to display your talent on the court or field again.  Therefore, make the best of every opportunity you have.

In order for a team to win a game, a team only needs to be the best team on that particular day.  As the high school and college football season winds down to their final games, don’t forget that the teams expected to win may not win.  You cannot go ahead and write a team off until the game is actually played.  When you write a team off before the game is played, this is when you are setting yourself up for failure.  Your opponents know when you take them for granted and they seize on the opportunities your arrogance affords them.

Don’t let your arrogance cost you a win!

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison