The Choices We Must Make

By Dr. Boyce Watkins, BASN Contributor
Updated: November 18, 2010

NEW YORK (BASN) — This weekend there was a fight in a bar in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. Three football players from Southern Mississippi University were involved in the fight, and all three were shot. Two of three players — Tim Green and Deddrick Jones — are in fair condition at a local hospital. Unfortunately, Martez Smith is paralyzed from the waist down as a result of the shooting The players were shot shortly after 3 a.m. There have been no arrests and police say that the shootings may have been gang related.

Allen Murray, spokesperson for the Hattiesburg police, said that the fight started inside the club and spilled out into the street. That’s where the players were shot.

The incident occurred a few hours after the team defeated Central Florida.

My grandmother used to tell me that “Nothing good usually happens after dark.” I think about these wise words every week, when I hear of yet another black athlete being shot or arrested in an incident that occurs at a night club.

I’m not one to be a party-pooper, but there is a point where we must openly question the culture that calls for college athletes to engage in heavy drinking and running to the club every single weekend.

Of course the players didn’t shoot themselves, so ultimately the perpetrator deserves responsibility for this sad chain of events.

But when you consider the number of athletes who’ve been shot at the club, shot someone at the club or gotten arrested after getting into a fight at the club, it might be time to remember that it’s O.K. to avoid the club and find something better to do.

This story is quite telling in the sense that it also reminds us that for many young black males, it’s not always enough for you to make good choices. For those of us who are successful, there’s always the threat of those who may want to undermine our success.

So, a man who has a lot to lose doesn’t need to spend much time tangling with men who have nothing to lose. These are not the first football players to be shot by gang bangers at the club.

So that’s just one life threatening scenario that black men face on a regular basis. Once again, it comes down to making intelligent choices about where you choose to spend your free time.

For parents sending their kids off to college, I encourage you to teach your kids to be leaders rather than followers. When they get to campus, their first orientation will be into a culture of binge drinking and club hopping, which some students believe to define the essence of college life.

Teach them to be smarter than that and to engage in responsible choices.

It may end up saving your child’s life.