Russell Contreras, Axios, September 18, 2023
Deion Sanders has made Boulder, Colorado, the improbable center of the sports world.
Why it matters: In Sanders’ first year, he’s led the once-hapless Colorado Buffaloes to a 3-0 start. Among his biggest supporters — Black fans around the country.
The big picture: Black households have been glued to the Buffs’ first few televised games.
- Celebrities from Snoop Dogg to Dwayne Johnson are hyping the Buffs.
- Black teachers, with no previous connections to Colorado, on social media call Sanders an inspiration.
Zoom in: Not since the Los Angeles Raiders of the 1980s or Michigan’s men’s basketball team The Fab Five of the 1990s has a team captivated Black America and hip-hop culture like the Buffs have so far.
- Carl Suddler, an associate professor of history at Emory University, tells Axios that watching Sanders receive this kind of support from Black folks on social media has been exciting in the early weeks of the season.
- “In this ‘new age’ of college football, he seems to be a one-of-a-kind draw — and hire — that may have more staying power than college football folks may have initially expected.”
What he’s saying: “It’s tremendous. It’s not a burden whatsoever. It’s a blessing,” Sanders told reporters after being asked about people comparing Colorado to the Fab Five or being called Black America’s Team.
Zoom out: Sanders, known for his swag and boasting, has brought that personality to Colorado and drawn criticism from other college coaches.
- “So many people hold on to the misguided belief that there are ‘right ways’ to do something, to achieve the highest success in sports. And that ‘right way’ for Black folks ought to be as far from flashy as possible,” Suddler said.
Yes, but: While Black America is embracing the Colorado Buffaloes, Boulder is a town with a Black population of 1%.
- The University of Colorado has a Black student population of less than 3%.