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The dilemma: When a dream overtakes one's common sense

April 09, 2008|By BOB MAGINNIS

Writing in Imprint Magazine in April 2006, author Emily Krauser took a look at what happens to college athletes who don't make it to the pros.

Krauser quoted D. Stanley Eitzen, former president of the North American Society for the Sociology of Sports, whose studies found that there are now about 2 million male athletes each year involved in high school football, baseball and basketball.

About 68,000 go on to play at the college level. Of those, just 2,500 - about .13 percent - become professional athletes.

For some collegiate athletes, the dream of reaching the pros crowds out academics, leaving them nothing to fall back on when their college careers end.

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For William Emanuel, getting young men to focus on education as well as athletics is "The Great Dilemma" that he and other speakers will address in the annual Manhood Training Retreat.

The three-day retreat, to be held Friday, April 18 to Sunday, April 20, at the Mount Aetna Camp and Retreat Center on Mount Aetna Road, is the latest edition of a program that Emanuel has put on annually since 2001, with a variety of speakers, including (though not this year) Dr. Michael "Mike" Parsons of Hagerstown Community College.

Emanuel said the dilemma the retreat will deal with is the dilemma of making decisions "and becoming men, instead of remaining boys."

Emanuel said the decisions are, "No. 1: Are you going to graduate from high school?"

No. 2, Emanuael said, is "What are your plans?"

"Have you taken the SAT (Scholastic Aptitude Test) and what is your GPA (Grade Point Average?" he asked.

"You can't wait until you graduate in May to think about these things," Emanuel said.

If you have waited until then, Emanuel said a good strategy would be to think about whether anyone you know (or someone they know) has completed a four-year degree and can offer advice on how to best do that.

At this point in time, Emanuel said, young women are better at thinking ahead, because they know they "might get hold of a bad guy" and have to support themselves.

To bring home the idea of how unwise it is to depend on athletics as a career, Emanuel said one of the presenters will be a student from Delaware State University.

According to Emaneul, the student concentrated on basketball to the exclusion of his studies.

Then he had a career-ending knee injury and because he hadn't kept up with his studies in mechanical engineering, "he lost his scholarship," Emanuel said.

But the retreat will include success stories, too, Emanuel said.

An African-American entrepreneur in his early 50s will talk about his push to succeed in the engineering field, Emanuel said.

"He has 14 employees now and he'll talk about how you succeed in America and the headaches involved," Emanuel said.

Other guests will include Darien McKinney, a graduate student in criminal justice at Virginia State University with a 4.0 GPA, and Jabari Emanuel, a sophomore at Morgan State University, on a full scholarship studying computer and electrical engineering.

The elder Emanuel said the idea is to get the younger people who present this year to eventually take over the retreat.

Emanuel, an electrical engineer by trade, has taught algebra and Hagerstown and Frederick community colleges. In past interviews, he has lamented the fact that many young people of color don't find minority professors as role models when they reach college.

In previous interviews, Emanuel told me that "our goal is to reach young men, to help them understand what it does mean to be a man." Learning to be a true man, he said, means learning how to prepare for life, for college and how to conduct a relationship with a woman, before and after marriage.

"We're trying to make them into true men with some purpose and some direction so they can help their communities and themselves," Emanuel said.

Participants will stay in cabins on the site, where meals will be provided through Sunday, when the retreat ends.

The cost for the weekend is $140 per person. This year, I've had a tuition commitment for that amount from a man who wants to remain anonymous.

If you can help, checks should be made payable to the Mount Aetna Camp and Retreat Center. Please note that it is for the Manhood Retreat. Mail them to The Faith of Jesus Center, 935 Marion St., Hagerstown, MD 21740.

For more information, call 301-791-5776 or visit Emanuel's Web site at www.peopleofcolor1.com.

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