Why you can compete at the highest level – and how it’s done

It’s February and that means that means three things.

1. Black History Month is celebrated in America.
2. Major League Baseball starts Spring Training.
3. The articles that question and state the decline of blacks in baseball begin.

The skill you need as a Black baseball player to compete at the collegiate and Major League Baseball level is self-confidence.

Why? Because it leads to success with speed:

1. Self-confidence
2. Self-discipline
3. Self-differentiation
4. Simple
5. Success
6. Speed

Self-confidence allows us to develop self-discipline that differentiates us from those that aren’t Serious. Things get really simple when you have self-confidence, self-discipline and self-differentiation.

When things get simple, you can experience success and with speed. Significance is achieved by serving others with your success.

How do you develop it?

1. Do things that are really difficult to develop grit
The bridge between struggle and success is sustenance by grit. Grit is a mental muscle that’s built when you fail at doing things that are really difficult. Walking for babies is difficult. But they fall and get back up.

Why? Because they want to walk. What keeps them getting back up? Grit.

2. Know only what you need to know
There is only so much a person can know. Nobody will ever know everything. Knowing what you must know allows you to do what you need to do. Don’t waste your time trying to be a jack of all trades and master of none. If baseball is what you need to be doing, don’t spend hundreds of hours learning to plant trees. Other people have been put on earth to do that, and they love it.

Great baseball players are great people and possess eight great things:

1. Conviction
2. Passion
3. Grit
4. Character
5. Habits
6. Knowledge
7. Skills
8. Resources

3. Asking a lot of great questions of great people to get great answers

Among many characteristics, great people are those who can speak with clarity, conciseness and consistency. It has nothing to do with how much money you have or your level of influence. Great people know themselves well and can tell their story well. They are shaped by their experiences and they know how to say, “I don’t know.”

Good people experience success, while great people share their success and are elevated to a difference title – significance. One of my favorite African Proverbs is, “To understand the road ahead, ask those coming back. Success leaves clues.”

Great people are significant and come back so ask them great questions.

Jackie Robinson was a great man. Here’s a good question and great question to ask him if you could:

Good question: How did it feel to play in your first Major League Baseball game as a Black man?

Great question: Where did you draw your mental and emotional strength to play in your first Major League Baseball game despite the hatred against you as a Black man?

6 myths you shouldn’t believe
I’m the co-founder of L.E.A.D. (Launch, Expose, Advise, Direct), an Atlanta based non-profit 501c3 that partners with Atlanta Public Schools to empower an at-risk generation to lead and transform their city of Atlanta.

We use our unique Pathway2Empowerment co-curricular programming to debunk six myths that speak against blacks playing baseball:

Myth No. 1
“Black kids don’t play baseball because of football.”

We serve over 250 Black males per year with six of our partner middle schools in the poorest parts of the inner city of Atlanta having up to 40 baseball players on each team.

Myth No. 2
“Black kids don’t play baseball because they don’t have father’s in their lives.”

Having a father at home is a “nice to have.” A combination of five great role models and mentors (male and/or female is a “must have.)”

Myth No. 3
“Black kids don’t play baseball because both football and basketball are faster pace.”

Baseball requires discipline, patience, critical thinking and self-leadership. Black people can demonstrate all four of those at the same time.

Myth No. 4
“Black kids don’t play baseball because they can’t get a full baseball college scholarship.”

Being poor with at least a 3.0 in Georgia means you can get full financial aid and the Georgia funded HOPE scholarship. That leaves about 3,000 to 5,000 for college fees per year that you can cover with loans if the baseball coach doesn’t want to give it to you with athletic money.

Myth No. 5
“Black kids don’t play baseball because it’s more expensive than football.”

Consider the cost of essential items for baseball, including a good aluminum bat and glove for baseball. That’s $250 each. A team only needs three bats of varying sizes tops.

Consider the cost for essential items for football, including a helmet and shoulder pads. That’s $250 each.

Consider that kids in Georgia can have their own league and develop their skills without having to travel across the country to play tournaments. It worked for Jackie Robinson.

Consider that less than 55 percent of SEC football players are Black.

D’Angelo Julio (S. Atlanta HS c/o 2017, signed with Savannah St. Univ.); CJ Stewart; Devon Shaw (B.E. Mays HS c/o 2017, signed with Tuskegee Univ.)

Myths No. 6
“Black kids don’t play baseball because their aren’t enough baseball fields in the inner city of Atlanta.”

Inner city Atlanta has a surplus of baseball fields.

L.E.A.D.’s leadership is committed to being solution strategist. The decline of Blacks competing in baseball at the collegiate and professional levels in America is a problem and an opportunity for L.E.A.D. to be be solution.