PPD Mag: Why are athletes getting into so much trouble outside of sports?
Mr. Stokes: I quantify that things today were not around when I played. Social media and cell phones are a big issue. This generation of opposing fans has much more access to student athletes as well as professional athletes. The athletes personal business is more exposed and socially, the general public are now noticing a lot of the negative behavior athletes are exhibiting away from the sport.
Dr. Mark: How important is the male influence for the athlete?
Mr. Stokes: Having a positive influence during the developmental stages at home especially having the male influence or lack of influence plays a major role. I would add, not having a male in the household is an issue. Mom and grandma are great but having a male involved in the developmental process is in some ways a separator. Unfortunately we are seeing a lot of athletes getting into trouble and they happen to be African American athletes.
PPD Mag: What core element is missing from college and professional athletics?
Mr. Stokes: A person who is dedicated and focusing on working with athletes in an area of personal growth. At the moment we could see this person as a mentor. I think a mentor is someone that can give the kids something that they need, if someone who has had similar life experience that they can share with athletes, it can be useful to a kid. However, it is important to understand that, mentorship has a lot of responsibility and people attempting to fill that role need to understand all the components involved. More importantly, the mentee has to be able to accept the information and help which the mentor is providing. Its a two way street.
PPD Mag: Do you see a need for transitional support services for athletes?
Mr. Stokes: Yes, transitional support services are vitally important, unfortunately kids leave college ill-equipped in certain areas, they are thrown out and expected to survive in a number of areas and the transition is an ongoing process. I know some coaches help athletes but I also know some coaches that just don’t. I had mentors who taught me and prepared me for life. These were things that I couldn’t learn on the basketball court.
During a four or five year process it would be an extra bonus for the school to provide pre-transitional services. Once they leave the university, student athletes do not engage with the institution. Services should be in place allowing athletes to engage with the university. By that I mean, the institutions should have programs in place to support former athletes once they have completed or exhausted their eligibility, due to the amount of issues former athletes encounter.
PPD Mag: What are your three suggestions for student athletes?
- Write down your goals, short, medium and long term.
- Find 2 or 3 people in your goal areas and identify someone to include in your circle.
- Find mentors you can trust and believe in, stay close to them and act on what they tell you.
This interview was arranged by Jay Keys