Black History Month matters to men’s basketball

Tim Dorst

Black History Month carries an array of strong feelings as well as many significant and ground-breaking historic moments over the course of decades, and the sports world has more than done its part to eliminate racial prejudice and provide equal opportunity to all.

To senior forward Chris Evans, this month holds a powerful importance for all of the historical aspects that have influenced his life and the lives of thousands of other black athletes.

“It’s very important to me,” Evans said, “because being that I’m young and being that we had so many civil rights leaders back then, we wouldn’t be here today and be able to accomplish the things we have if it wasn’t for the people who fought for us back in the day. So, it’s definitely an important month in my life, and I’m very grateful for the people who paved the way for where I am today.”

Evans said athletes such as Jesse Owens, who won four gold medals in track and field during the 1936 Olympic games, and Tommie Smith and John Carlos, who donned black gloves and raised their fists in a public call for equal rights at the 1968 Olympics, are prime examples of the impact that the civil rights movement had on the integration and evolution of sport as a whole.

“Black History Month definitely plays a part in the relevancy in sports,” Evans said. “It definitely improves the game of basketball and how we were able to integrate between both races.”

Legendary sports figures like Owens and Jackie Robinson not only broke barriers during their time, but they opened doors for Evans and other members of the Kent State basketball team to have the opportunity to find success in sports generations later. The significance of this month stretches to white athletes as well as black athletes, a fact that junior forward Mark Henniger recognizes.

“I think it has a big meaning for our team,” Henniger said. “Obviously I support it 100 percent, and I think it’s had a huge impact on basketball and on sports over the years.”

Contact Tim Dorst at [email protected].