HBCU sports–Moving Up in the World

@FAMUVolleyball Twitter

“Go Ratttluhhhhssss!”

fdIs this what the FAMU fans say?

Regardless, here ye, here ye, an important announcement: the FAMU women’s volleyball team has won the SWAC conference championship— and this is their first year being in the SWAC conference! 

FAMU joined the SWAC (Southwestern Atlantic Conference) on July 1, 2021– which means they’ll be playing against teams such as Alabama State, Alcorn State, Bethune-Cookman, Grambling State, Jackson State, Mississippi Valley State, Prairie View A&M, Southern, Texas Southern, and University of Arkansas-Pine Bluff. 

Yes, these are all HBCUs. 

FAMU women’s volleyball beat Jackson State 3-2 to guarantee a spot in the NCAA Volleyball Tournament– something the program hasn’t seen since 2009. 

Period, FAMU! 

While FAMU’s success is rightfully earned, I think that this win represents some “W’s” that the SWAC has been experiencing for a while now. Some say 2020 was the year for the HBCU–culture wise, but I think 2021 has been the year for the HBCU–sports wise. 

Televised Games

This 2021 season has been one for the books for HBCU football.

For the longest, I can recall scrolling through the several ESPN channels my cable company offers and not seeing one HBCU football game, but this season that has not been the case. ESPN increased the number of HBCU games televised for this season. 

Even for basketball, CBS agreed to host an “HBCU All-Star Game,” which will showcase the top HBCU players in the country, starting in 2022 in New Orleans. They also agreed to air a weeklong festival, displaying Black culture and excellence through the lens of the HBCU experience. 

This is a huge win for HBCU sports, especially since they’ve received the short end of the stick for so long. 

Deion Sanders

As a proud Mississippian, I feel like I would definitely get my card revoked if I didn’t mention Deion Sanders, current head football coach for the Jackson State University Tigers. 

Also known as “PrimeTime,” Sanders boasts a successful NFL career and an impressive mentoring track record and is often highly revered in the football world. Hired on Sep. 21, 2020, Deion Sanders was officially introduced as the Head Football Coach at Jackson State University. With his name attached to the University, Jackson State has gained more publicity within the media and on social media. 

Coach PrimeTime has been very vocal throughout his time at Jackson State University, speaking out about the lack of last names displayed on SWAC players’ jerseys. While this may seem small to others, many other football programs–especially PWI football programs who go on to contend for the National title– do this. With his comment, he’s pushing the SWAC– and seemingly the rest of HBCU football programs– to do better in promoting their players and ultimately their programs. 

Just like he says, “ If you look good, you feel good. If you feel good, you play good. If you play good, they pay good.”

Honestly, I believe some of the deals that are coming through to benefit HBCU sports–especially football– are on the premise of Deion Sanders’ name, and to be quite honest, I have no issue with that whatsoever. 

As the TikTok says, “I just needed a platform,” and oh, do these HBCUs not only need– but DESERVE– a platform. 

While sports like football and basketball are gaining more traction in mainstream media like CBS and ESPN, hopefully other HBCU sports like volleyball, softball, baseball, track and field, and tennis will begin to gain more exposure as well. 

“Alexa, play “The Jeffersons’ theme song, cause we movin’ on up, girl”

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