NIGERIANS SHINE IN AMERICAN SPORTS

NIGERIANS SHINE IN AMERICAN SPORTS

It is no longer news that Nigerians have become the leading lights of American sports in the United States of America.
There are more Nigerian immigrants in the United States (376,000) than anywhere in the world. The Houston metro area is home to most Nigerians in the country (about 150,000).

Cleveland Browns’ Emmanuel Ogbah holds up his jersey at a news conference at the NFL football team’s training camp facility, Saturday, April 30, 2016, in Berea, Ohio. Ogbah played defensive end at Oklahoma State. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)

The Nigerian their culture, drive, pride, family structure and their athletic bodies seemed have given them an advantage in American football.
It was recently revealed that in the 2016 National Football League (NFL) draft, there were as many players taken from Lagos, Nigeria, as from the city of Chicago (three).
Hakeem Olajuwon, the acknowledged pied piper for Nigerian athletes after coming out the University of Houston in 1984 and becoming a member of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame described the “Nigerianisation” of American football as inspiring.
Bobby Burton who has been covering college football for more than two decades said: “I think it was kind of that moment in time. It’s gone past the point of coincidence. It’s no longer just [an] anomaly. It’s part of the fabric of football and football recruiting in this country.”


Their story goes beyond college football or even college athletics. Forget any athletic stereotype, Nigerians have a fierce family pride and dogged belief in education — particularly higher education — that allows them to succeed in this country.

These noble West African natives and their descendants are the American Dream.
“There is an honor about them,” USC coach Clay Helton said.
“They’re such a regal people,” said Chris Plonsky, the women’s athletic director at Texas.
In the space of four picks at the end of the first round and beginning of the second of that 2016 NFL Draft, three were of Nigerian descent (Ole Miss’ Robert Nkemdiche, Texas A&M’s Germain Ifedi and Oklahoma State’s Emmanuel Ogbah).
Nigerian influence on college sports is obvious: among the Power Five, only the SEC did not have at least one player of Nigerian heritage on its all-conference first or second teams in 2016.
The past three seasons, at least one player of Nigerian heritage has finished in the top 25 nationally in tackles.
At least 80 players of Nigerian ancestry have populated professional football, soccer, basketball and even car racing in recent years. In 1987, Hakeem Olajuwon and Christian Okoye (“The Nigerian Nightmare”) were the earliest Nigerian-born NFL player.

Many Nigerians walk tall in the U. S. riding on the pride their fellow country men set in American sports and American education.

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Femi Oshin
Femi Oshin 165 posts

Femi Oshin is a publisher at Nigeriansinsouthafrica.ca.za and Producer /Presenter of Agogo Ayo on Africa Magic Yoruba.

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