Boys and Girls Club of Southeastern Michigan Hosts “Bigger Than Sports” Panel 

Photo: (L-R) Chris Kyles, Jerome Bettis, Jemele Hill, Garlin Gilchrist II, and Hiram Jackson | Credit: Boys & Girls Clubs of Southeastern Michigan

During the first day of the NFL Draft, a prestigious panel took place at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Southeastern Michigan: Lloyd H. Diehl Club location. The panel featured Vice President of Sports for Boys & Girls Club of Southeastern Michigan (BGCSM) Chris Kyles, NFL Hall of Famer Jerome “The Bus” Bettis, Lieutenant Governor of Michigan Garlin Gilchrist II, and CEO of Real Times Media Hiram Jackson. Sports journalist Jemele Hill moderated the panel.

The conversation surrounded youth sports, how media affects young athletes, and having a “what’s next” plan. The panelists also shared their personal experiences as young athletes and provided insights on how to achieve success as business owners and community leaders.

One of Chris Kyles’s commitments as VP at the BGCSM is to ensure youth are prepared on and off the field. He makes sure they understand that winning and losing go hand in hand. He also teaches youth to push through even when things get tough but not to give up because there’s always room to improve.

“Win graciously, but if you lose, it’s a lesson, and then you get back in the gym, on the practice field, and work to get better. Here (BGCSM), we teach pride, and when you have times of adversity, you stick together; you don’t point fingers. We then build that team where that piece is throughout all of our other Boys and Girls Club programs,” Kyles said.

One of those programs is 3C Sports, tailored to provide a complete sports experience for young athletes, focusing on community, culture, and competition. The program goes beyond the conventional definition of sports by encouraging youth engagement, teaching vital life skills, and presenting opportunities for personal growth.

Jerome Bettis revealed a fascinating fact about his past – a time before his highly successful NFL career took off, he was a talented bowler at 14. He highlighted the importance of engaging in various sports to gain diverse experiences and skills.

“I’m a big believer in that you want to play multiple sports because if you play baseball, it gets you ready for basketball; you play basketball, it gets you ready for football; you played football, it gets you prepared for all the sports. I believe that if you play soccer, that’ll make your footwork much better. And then when you go to play basketball or football, those things translate. So I’m a huge believer in playing multiple sports,” Bettis said.

Lt. Governor Gilchrist II, alongside Governor Gretchen Whitmer, to support youth beyond school and sports in Michigan. To this end, the state is providing unprecedented financial backing with an annual budget of $50 million in state funds to support organizations that provide out-of-school programming, including nonprofits. This funding emphasizes that learning can occur at any time and place, not just within the confines of a school building or classroom.

“I played basketball from age 9 to 17, and I played travel baseball. This is a great way to lay a foundation for understanding hard work, discipline, teamwork, disappointment, and all these pieces. And so, for those reasons, it’s critical for families to have access to options of extracurricular experiences for young people, whether they’re athletic or academic or something else,” Gilchrist said.

Hiram Jackson recalled his childhood experiences at the Boys and Girls Club as more than just a place to play; it was a place that nurtured his growth and shaped him into who he is today, including being a board member for several years at the BGCSM.

“I was a six-year-old in Highland Park, on a trampoline, playing field hockey and baseball, and this organization shaped me. Everything about me, everything I am, everything I hoped to be, I owe to the Boys and Girls Club,” Jackson said.

Today, Jackson is a successful businessman cultivating the Black press and media one story at a time. He positively and intentionally changes the narrative of how Black youth and athletes are viewed.

“When we cover athletics, we tend to cover athletes and what they’re doing outside of their career. Jerome Bettis is a successful businessman. So there’s life after sports, but those things that help you in business—showing up on time and doing your homework—end up helping you in your business career as well,” Jackson said.

The portrayal of Black athletes in media holds significant importance as it shapes perceptions, influences attitudes, and can contribute to societal narratives about race, athleticism, and opportunity. Historically, media representations of Black athletes, including youth, have often been fraught with stereotypes, biases, and limited narratives.

“Conflict intention has become very much a priority in media, and as a community, we don’t understand how important the black press has been in chronicling our stories. And now there are very few black-owned media outlets,” Jemele Hill said. “So it’s important that we support these outlets and continue to uphold these legacy media institutions because of what they have meant to our community and our people for a long period.”

About Post Author

From the Web

Skip to content