Reading Is Fundamental

By Eric D. Graham BASN columnist
Updated: July 18, 2011

“If you read a lot of books you are considered well read. But if you watch a lot of TV, you’re not considered well viewed.” -Lily Tomlin

Kemba Walker

Kemba Walker

NORTH CAROLINA—(BASN) For 28 days, this year, Kemba Walker was the best player in college basketball.

He, in fact, almost single-handedly led the Huskies of Connecticut through a five day-five game Big East Tournament, earning them a No.3 seed in 2011 NCAA Tournament, where he scored a total of 130 points including 16 in the NCAA Finals against the Butler Bulldogs in a 53-41 victory.

At only 5’11 and 185 pounds, he was literally unstoppable during the tournament by breaking players’ ankles off the dribble, slicing and dicing through a lane full of 7-footers for easy line-ups, and drilling long-jumpers from behind the three-point arc.

But with such a grueling schedule, was there enough time in the day for a superstar athlete like Walker to study, read, or reflect on life off the court during that crazy thing known as March Madness?

This is still the great debate in college sports, when people use the term student-athlete to describe these unpaid amateur athletes especially Black athletes.

Because we know all the old cache’, when it comes to Black people, which is: “The best way to hide information from them is to put it in a book. Because they will never read it.”

And in the case of Kemba Walker, who was recently selected ninth by the Charlotte Bobcats in the 2011 NBA Draft, this statement seem to be true when Walker unapologetically admitted that he had only read one book from cover to cover in his entire life.

I, for one, found that disturbing and quite shocking to think that he could receive a Sociology degree from a prestigious university like Connecticut by only reading one book in his entire academic career.

Oddly, the one book Walker did read, however, according to the article written by Tim Layden entitled UConn’s Drive to Survive in the March 11 th edition of Sports Illustrated, was a copy of New York Times columnist William C.Rhoden’sForty Million Dollar Slave: The Rise, Fall, and Redemption of the Black Athlete, a book that UConn academic counselor Felicia Crump encouraged him to read as a part of an independent studies class on racism in sports.

Don’t get it twisted; I am not calling Walker stupid, by no means.

And in his defense, maybe he was reading magazines, newspapers, assigned textbooks and internet websites while in school.

Besides, in this new high-tech world, books have almost become obsolete.

Especially, when you can Google it, YouTube it, Skype it, tweet it or Facebook it. Matter of fact, during this time in history, why even wait for the book to come out, when you can talk directly to a person across the globe about the uprising in Egypt, the war in Afghanistan, or the election of the President of the United States.

Yes, things have changed.

Therefore, please don’t misunderstand my premise for writing this article; I am not questioning Walker’s intelligence.

Besides, intelligence is subjective and can’t be measured by the number of books a person has read or by a SAT score or even a G.PA.

Why? Because we all learn differently. Many of us like reading books, while others enjoy watching movies or documentaries.

Some of us, on the other hand, learn best through face to face conversation or lectures.

And yet still, several of us, learn from doing not reading.

In others words, we make people our books and we study them.

But despite all that, it still amazes me that Walker only read one book while at the University of Connecticut.

Now, with the NBA lockout under way, maybe Walker can sit down and relax and read a couple more books before his professional basketball career begins.

Honestly, I hope he has a fabolous career as the Bobcats starting point guard, because I will be cheering for him as well as the other Bobcat fans in North Carolina.

But despite that, Walker must remember at one time in history, it was illegal for a “slave” to read and nobody wants to see another “Forty Million Dollar Slave.”