In February for Black History Month, USA TODAY Sports is publishing the series “28 Black Stories in 28 Days.” We examine the issues, challenges and opportunities Black athletes and sports officials continue to face after the nation’s reckoning on race following the murder of George Floyd in 2020. This is the third installment of the series.
Averion Hurts, the father of Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts — you may have heard of him — was his son’s coach for much of his life. By all accounts, Averion, a football coach at Channelview High School in Texas, is a remarkable father and a rock for his son.
“In his situation, his story, it’s not a hard luck story,” Averion recently told Good Morning Football, “He didn’t come from humble beginnings, let’s say. So this is just really a story of a kid who fell in love with football. He wanted to do the best he could with it and he has a burning desire to be the best that he can be.”
Patrick Mahomes Sr., the father of Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Pat Mahomes — you may have heard of him — also is a constant presence in the life of his son. This goes back to when Mahomes Sr. was a professional baseball player and he’d catch fly balls with his then 4-year-old and future Super Bowl quarterback.
“I just remember him being so excited to go to the yard every day,” Mahomes Sr. told the New York Post, speaking of when dad was a Major Leaguer. “I’d have to hold him back just so I could get in the car before we left because he was ready to get out there. And he’d get there to the clubhouse, get his uniform on, and he’d be one of the first guys out on the field, and of course I had to play catch and all that.”
Super Bowl Central: Super Bowl 57 odds, Eagles-Chiefs matchups, stats and more
During Super Bowl 57 you will see more than a game. You’ll see two Black quarterbacks — raised lovingly by two Black dads (and also by their moms). You will also see one more thing: a stereotype busted.
If you’re looking for the story — the often repeated one, the ever-lasting one, the stereotypical one — of the Black kid who grew up impoverished and still made it. If you’re looking for the same ol’ story about the Black kid without a father who overcame this and that and the other thing and golly gee, goodness gracious look at him now. Well, this Super Bowl quarterbacks story is not for you.
One of the things the story of Mahomes and Hurts does is demonstrate just how wrong the stereotype of the absent Black father has been, which has existed for decades, and possibly centuries.
It’s been used repeatedly to portray Black men as lazy and terrible fathers. It’s often done as a way of not just tearing down Black people, but as a form of deflection from the impact of historic horrors such as slavery, Jim Crow and other forms of structural racism.
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The story of the Black father is actually one of remarkable success despite those injustices. It is also about how powerful the mixture of hate and narrative can be, and how long a false narrative can last.
The lie about Black fathers might actually have an official starting point that was born long before Mahomes and Hurts. That date could be almost 60 years ago, according to government documents: “In 1965, white sociologist and Assistant Secretary of Labor Daniel Patrick Moynihan published a report called The Negro Family: The Case for National Action. This report claimed that increasing rates of ‘out-of-wedlock’ births and single-mother homes among African Americans signaled the coming destruction of Black families, and these trends were to blame for many of the issues facing the Black community in America.” (The report has been routinely criticized by race scholars.)
Since then, this stereotype has been weaponized by white nationalists and even some Black politicians.
The stereotyping has occurred despite the lack of a factual anchor. The Centers for Disease Control reported in 2013 that Black fathers were actually extremely present in the lives of their children. “Black fathers (70 percent) were most likely to have bathed, dressed, diapered, or helped their children use the toilet every day,” the CDC study said, “compared with white (60 percent) and Hispanic fathers (45 percent).”
There are some bad Black fathers, just as there are bad fathers of every race.
What the dads of Mahomes and Hurts have done is demolish a stereotype that’s existed for so long, and its destruction is happening on the biggest stage…the Super Bowl.
Story Credit: usatoday.com