Sports have long been considered a way to escape the socioeconomic barriers that face the underprivileged in America. We've seen countless African Americans and Latinos take advantage of the opportunity, but where are the Native Americans?
There are almost 2,000,000 Native Americans in the US mostly living in poverty on reservations yet I've never heard of a dominant Native American athlete (except Jim Thorpe) in any sport. Not boxing, hockey, lacrosse, archery, tennis, soccer, cross country running, or even ping pong. Is it because Natives have no desire to compete in sports on a high level? Is it because no one reports on their successes? Is it because they have no desire to become independently wealthy for the rest of their lives?
I think the problem is much more deep rooted than that. I think the problem is the lack of access to programs. The Native population is so isolated and remote that it's difficult to get proper training and exposure to them. The athletes that show promise and the ability to excel in sports simply fall through the cracks. If you couple that with self esteem issues and an apathetic American society you have a recipe for disaster.
It's quite obvious that in all walks of life the Native American has become an afterthought and the world of sports is no different. Without the resources and facilities necessary to develop athletic skills it will probably take some sort of outreach program to get Native youths involved in sports. Sports can be such a positive, fulfilling, rewarding experience that it would be a shame to let an entire race of people miss out on the benefits. Lets get to the reservation and see what we can do.