Revisiting the wisdom of Eugene Parker: Opening youth opportunity beyond sports

| April 19, 2016
Eric Hackley interviews Eugene Parker in 1986.

Eric Hackley interviews Eugene Parker in 1986.

By Eric Hackley
In approximately 1986, I had the distinct honor to interview the late Eugene Parker. He was one of the co-captains for a Walter Jordan Parade of Stars Basketball game. Our meeting took place during the after set at Link’s Wonderland.

Eric Hackley: Eugene, tell us about how you prepared the athletes for tonight’s basketball game.

Eugene Parker: Well Eric, there wasn’t a lot of preparation. Tonight’s game was an All-Star format, and a lot of the individuals playing have had professional experience. So basically, what you try to do is try to make sure everyone gets an adequate amount of playing time and make sure you have your best players on the floor when it counts.

HACKLEY: Some will disagree with that because you weren’t on the floor tonight.

PARKER: Well I’m flattered by that. However, I’ve been in semi-retirement for a while and this is a new format for Walter. He primarily had pros and some of the recent college graduates participating in this game.

HACKLEY: Will Walt’s game eventually become an All-Star classic?

PARKER: No question about it. I think Walter Jordan is the individual that will pull something like that off. Not only does he have the personality and influence, but he also has the determination and persistence to do something like that.

HACKLEY: How do high school students feel about a game like this?

PARKER: I would hope that they would look at this as an opportunity to be around and meet professional players to give maybe them some inspiration to excel period. Not only in athletics but just being around people who have excelled in their particular areas should provide positive motivation for our youths.

HACKLEY: How did you make the transition from basketball to law, where you didn’t miss basketball?

PARKER: It was a matter of sitting down and objectively weighing out my options. Over the long term, I felt that a solid career in law might benefit me more than trying to go out and milk the next couple of years playing basketball possible in the NBA or European basketball or something of that nature. I enjoyed playing the game, but I think I got a lot of mileage out of the game that afforded me the opportunity to travel around the world, to get a college education and to experience a lot of things that most people don’t get to experience.

HACKLEY: What is your advice to a 6’2″ guard with a great jump shot?

PARKER: I would like for that individual to be realistic about his or her ability. I don’t want the person to give up their dream. But, you hear the rhetoric that there are other things in life besides sports, and there are. I think the key thing is to realize that the same attributes and principals that they use to excel in sports are transferable to other areas of their life, and that formula for success is universal. So, learn something from the game. Use it for as much as it can give you, but don’t let the game just use you. And take those principles and apply them to whatever you want to do in life assuming it’s positive, and you can excel in any area.

 

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Category: Community, History

About the Author ()

Eric Hackley is a veteran independent journalist, television show host and producer focusing largely on history, particularly family history in the black community. His award-winning public access television shows have featured a host of local and national icons. Hackley can be contacted at hackonomicstv@gmail.com.

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