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Whether they are still competing or have moved over to the sidelines, athletes – specifically black athletes – are looking to make an impact on the world.
We’ve seen NBA players attacking the issues both on and off the court along with their female counterparts in the WNBA echoing their message. On the college basketball front, Makur Maker made headlines when he became the first five-star recruit to commit to an HBCU back in July.
While all of that has taken place, the same messages and causes have a driving force behind them on the gridiron as well. The NFL has put in some efforts along with a number of NCAA programs, conferences, and coaches. And now, like Maker, Deion Sanders will be on an HBCU campus, as it was announced on Tuesday that the NFL Hall of Famer would be the next head coach at Jackson State University.
Coincidentally, the announcement that the man who made the No. 21 famous would serve as the school's 21st head football coach came on the 21st day of the month.
But what does all of this mean for Jackson State — and HBCU football programs in general? Reports are already being made (by HBCUconnect.com) that a number of athletes are clamoring about playing for the man known as Prime Time. None of the reports include athletes who are the nations top prospects, but the buzz is already getting louder just based on the thought of Sanders being at the helm for the Tigers.
In addition to getting attention from athletes, who probably weren’t and wouldn’t have given JSU a second look, you have to think that Prime's influence could mean that he and his Tigers get some prime time attention when it comes to coverage. As we all know, ratings are a big business measure in sports so you’d have to think that teams and broadcasters around the country are pondering a potential matchup with Deion’s new team.
The current exposure from the announcement has made some noise in the HBCU world. Now imagine if the coverage of these teams increased. A lot of things, money-wise, could be impacted. So while it’s a big deal for him to be getting his first crack at being at head coach at the college level, there is so much more that this could impact.
Lastly, here’s one final thought about the move: Deion is the current offensive coordinator at Trinity Christian High School where his son, Shedeur Sanders, has been the starting quarterback. Shedeur made his college commitment to play at FAU and stated that “playing for a black head coach” (Willie Taggart) was important to him during his announcement video. With that type of message being stated loud and clear by his son, it’s apparent that Deion making a move like this one aligns with a family goal of sorts.
Like the decision by Maker, only time will tell what type of impact this will have on the sports world, but you can be sure that plenty of eyes will be on Prime's squad in the future.