As Funny As It Seems, Young’s Wonderlic Story No Laughing Matter For Black Athletes

By Gregory Moore
Updated: March 3, 2006

SAN ANTONIO — The question is pretty simple but it seems to have become the subject of serious debate.

A boy is 17 years old and his sister is twice as old. When the boy is 23, what will be the age of his sister?

That is a sample question from the famed Wonderlic assessment test that the National Football League uses to assess just how much money a player may be getting. Yet when it comes to Vince Young, many are making wide assessments as to the young man’s intelligence quotient, his cognative capabilites and whether him taking this test a second time is indicative of his success on the field during any given Sunday and whether he will be a success in life. Yet what is not seriously being addressed is the fact that Young’s problems may not necessarily stem from this test in itself, but a systematic flaw that seems to be very prevalent amongst the African American community and the importance of grasping the necessary educational skills that allow you to pass such standardized tests.

Within this very community, many believe that this so-called barometer does not do Black athletes justice. The old excuse that minority students, especially African Americans, are not great test takers has been the battle cry for so long that it has now become as real as anyone trying answer the fifty question test.

There also seems to be the sentiment that the University of Texas’ athletic department may actually be hurting the star players by coddling them and thusly when they are facing some real world issues, they are bombing out right. Yet is this standardized test that the league uses in which an examinee must try to answer 50 questions in twelve minutes truly indicative of a player’s ability on and off the field? It is if you are looking for certain characteristics. But before one can even make such an assessment from a hiring standpoint, it is actually up to the individual test taker to be prepared to take such a standardized test and that doesn’t come from a week of learning flash cards and such but from the actual classroom setting.

When it comes to African American athletes and standardized testing, it may be wiser now for the community that embraces them to start focusing on the educational mechanisms that will help these young men and women succeed in the workforce and that comes from pushing the need to stay in school and to learn everything necessary for success.

As easy of a target as Young may be in this case, the real culprit is the African American community’s lack of taking seriously the problem of educational lapses in certain segments. If this story should prove anything to anyone who puts so much attention on athletic prowess, it should show that if your intellect does not allow you to reason and make cognative decisions in a control environment, your future may truly be sunk.

The Wonderlic test isn’t the end all of anyone’s potential but what this community must realize is that the excuse that standardized tests are not the forte of the youth is simply that; an excuse. There’s really no excuse for the Black community to not push for ‘smarter’ athletes because if this community doesn’t demand such people to represent them on the playing field, then it has failed it’s own ‘wonderlic’ test for survival.

By the way, the answer to the sample Wonderlic question in this story is 40.