189 responses

  1. Jeremiah
    June 3, 2015

    Matt,

    After reading your blog post several times, and being saddened by some of your thoughts, I have to ultimately agree that the message you’re trying to get across is the ultimate truth. Too many kids, especially from harder backgrounds, only look at sports or entertainment industry as a way out but majority will probably never even graduate college. I do think you make some valid and strong points about Stephen Curry’s background story, as we’ve all seen the videos of him traveling with his dad and getting first hand experience shooting in the gym with his family. Majority of people in the world will never ever get remotely close to those experiences.

    However, I’d like to suggest perhaps a request from another player to invite, a fellow Bay Area native and self-proclaimed Warriors fan, a former Warrior in fact and whose dream to one day play in the NBA but never looked at the NBA as #1 goal. He was always over-looked, even to this day people say he’s probably going to be out of the league next season. He’ll probably never be the MVP or maybe even an All-star, was a 5’3″ freshman in high school, nobody really thought he should be playing basketball due to his race, but with a solid support system he had a backup plan and strong faith that reminded him that school was #1 priority. Focus on other things before basketball because although he had talent, nobody really was going to respect his game. 0 scholarship offers, and if he didn’t have the grades, it would have been impossible to have been recruited to and play in the Ivy league. He also knows there’s life after basketball and wants to be a preacher one day.

    That player’s name is Jeremy Lin.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gqrrKLcvPSE (First person interview before Linsanity).

  2. AlexMoore
    June 3, 2015

    Wow this is a great piece! One hundred percent accurate. Ignore the negative comments; from a teacher to another I understand where you are coming from. Athletes should do a better job of painting the whole picture, not just the good but the realistic

  3. Evangeline Woods
    June 3, 2015

    I must say this was truly a good read. Just the massive response from many different people has showcased how strongly we believe in the importance a dream. You should take this and turn it into a book. I’m sure it will inspire children/students to do some critical thinking. It’s great to see society come together and voice their opinions. There is such a diverse group of people that there back story, inreguards to their response, would help future generations understand society. We come together when we strongly disagree or agree on a topic.

  4. Michelle
    June 3, 2015

    You make such a good point here. We like to ignore the fact that who you know and where you grow up heavily weights your chances of success. The realities of privilege vs. poverty do not play well into the ideal of the American Dream. While we can all better ourselves through hard work, and while many of us have opportunities to be more educated than our parents and to improve our standard of living, most of those in the highest echelons of power did NOT start at the bottom.

    As someone who lives in Silicon Valley, I see this every day. Children in my neighborhood are well-fed. Many of them have after-school tutors. Many of them play on traveling sports teams. All of them have access to great coaches and great teachers. None of them worry about whether they’ll get to go to that camp they want to attend, or how their parents will afford the uniforms. All of this makes a huge difference.

    I did grow up with a lot less than my own child is growing up with, and I was able to give him a more comfortable life. But I also had two parents who believed deeply in education and who supported me emotionally. And I wanted to be a writer, not a sports star, so my options were different. No amount of desire would have led me to be a great athlete. Even though tmy parents didn’t pay for me to go to college, my mother did fill out the financial aid forms. Kids who don’t have that kind of support are at a huge disadvantage.

  5. A Teacher
    June 3, 2015

    I’ve been teaching in urban schools about as long as the writer. What most of the comments that I’ve read focus on in negating the sentiment of the writer is that no teacher should “crush” a student’s dreams. Fair point. This article is clearly not about crushing students’ dreams, but understands that many students will abandon academic dreams in an effort to focus on their athletic dreams, which, as we all know, are so statistically improbably as to be next to impossible (http://www.theguardian.com/sport/datablog/interactive/2014/jan/29/what-odds-going-professional-sports). The point is to ensure that students don’t forget about their education to pursue next to impossible dreams. I’ve taught seniors for the past 7 years and have heard countless students who tell me that they’re going to be in the NBA, which is why they don’t care about their school work. THAT’s the heart of the message of this post. Not dream-crushing.

  6. Brian Biddulph-Krentr
    June 3, 2015

    What if he visits just to brighten their day and give them something to smile about and remember? Maybe that day they are happy and do something good because of it. Maybe for an hour kids can just be kids and see their favorite player. They may have a tough climb, but hopefully they are willing to put in the work, not to be in there NBA but to be a good employee, boss, parent, and spouse.

  7. Dominique Johnson
    June 3, 2015

    From one teacher to ALL others…….finally, somebody to speak the TRUTH!!

  8. John Williams
    June 3, 2015

    Matt, you remind me of a high school teacher I had. He professed to truly be looking out for disadvantaged youth. He assumed a lot about students that he perceived to be disadvantaged. He made assumptions about background and he mad assumptions about capabilities. I had a short-term encounter with this teacher. During the period of time that I was in his class, he gave us a writing assignment. I turned in my essay which he promptly assumed that I could NOT have written it on my own and gave me a C-. You see, his assumption was that a person who looked like me could not possibly have written a three page essay free of obvious syntax and grammatical errors. You see, he ASSumed that I must be incapable. He decided that he would use my obvious frustration as an opportunity to emphasize to the class the importance of “turning in your own work”. He read a paper, aloud, to the class that he viewed as an example of a paper that he KNEW was written by the student. It had a number of grammatical, spelling and other errors. He said, “now, I know this is written by a student because it had a number of errors”. You see, he had made up his mind that, even though he didn’t know me, that I couldn’t possibly author a mistake-free paper. I immediately got up and said, “I am out of here”, as I left class and went directly to my counselor and transferred from this person”s class.

    Why do I bring this up? I can’t help but feel that you are making the same kind of mistake that this person made about me. You do not give your kids credit for being able to understand that there are NO guarantees when it comes to being a professional athlete. Furthermore, you are operating under a false assumption that there IS a guarantee that absent a focus on long-shot aspirations such as sports, that a there will be a focus on academics.

    Mr. Amaral, the world is not a black or white. There are zillions of shades of gray in between. It is as foolish for you to tell them that a road is not open to them as it is for them to focus all of their efforts on a single road. Have you considered what will happen if they fail to make it through college? What if they cannot afford to go? What if they attend and are mediocre as students? What if they attend, graduate and cannot get a “college-graduate-level” job? Is it not as foolish for them to assume that all they have to do is go to college as it is to assume that all they need is a jump shot.

    Granted, there are more successful college graduates than there are successful athletes. But, what if they are that one in a million? It seems that the principal at your school did not give up on his dream of going to the NBA until it was clear that he could not make it. And, he seems to have done well for himself inasmuch as he is your “boss”. I am not saying that you should not be encouraging your students academically – not at all. I am though, saying that YOU should not decide for them that they cannot do something.

    Factoid: During my tenure in high school, I knew, personally, THREE professional athletes who made the equivalent of 7 figure incomes (today’s dollars). Two played 7 years in the NFL and one played in the NBA for more than 10 years. So, it is not impossible to be successful.

    Finally, it seems to me that Steph Curry is in a special position. He is one of a small set of individuals that has clearly achieved success in athletics and NOT sacrificed his intellect in the process. I would think you would welcome him to come tell his story – the whole story. Don’t try to decide for these kids what their future can hold. On the contrary, I wish you would use your “bully pulpit” to encourage them to hone ALL of their skills.

    John Williams
    aka @goBears74

  9. Richard T
    June 3, 2015

    Matt, although you do make some good points, and yes stars whether sport or just entertaininers
    Should keep it real when speaking to our young underprivileged, teachers also have a responsibility to keep it real! I am a retired softball coach that has helped many young ladies achieve their goals, despite teachers telling them they would not amount to anything! Instead of telling people like Steph that it would not help having him inspire them, how about sending out a letter to the board of education to actually do what they are paid to do! As far as I know he was told he would not make it in the NBA! As I am sure his father was probably told the same! For your Info our current President of the United States was probably told he could never be President! And guess what he has a law degree he achieved without that silver spoon! Although your point is to have a backup plan you are correct, your job is to encourage not discourage! When I was young I went to the state track meet to try and make the Olympics, I did not qualify but my buddy did, I gave him hug and wished him well, did you ever think what Steph might be discouraged by your letter? Again use your job and your influence to turn that one thousand into at least100 that you help succeed and maybe another Steph Curry, or a President Obama!

  10. Sally Thomas
    June 3, 2015

    I read Matt’s article and understood it to be rhetorical and thought-provoking, not an attack on Steph Curry or celebrities and their potential impact in the classroom. I think it’s clear, in his article and also in his replies to comments here, that his aim is not to discourage his students from pursuing their dreams or achieving success. I want to share that Matt spoke on a panel at the Hayward Public Library in April about the importance of education in promoting good nutrition and expanding access to fresh fruits and vegetables in areas of cities known as “food deserts.” We were glad to learn about his annual month-long challenge to students to improve their diets by skipping sodas and fast food, to help with food shopping and cooking of meals at home, and doing research about healthy eating and related subjects. He took a Saturday afternoon to participate in a community forum at the library; writes a blog about public education in an under-served, mostly working class community; and aims high in giving his students tools to think critically about the choices they make: sounds like a dedicated teacher to me. Even if you disagree with his rhetoric, let’s give more support to teachers like Matt who bring passion to their classrooms and encourage the community to engage in debates about the future of our young adults.

  11. Daniel
    December 1, 2015

    I agree but disagree with some of his thoughts because the coaches that have trained me were once dirt poor living in mexico to becoming soccer stars. I also living in the bay know a lot of great soccer stars with bad backgrounds becoming very good athletes to the point that they become professional. I am a 15 year old that plays soccer for an academy and I am about to play for a professional soccer team in mexico.

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