Ladies and gents, this will be short because I don’t want to lose too many of you all in this post. Whether you are a fan of sports or not, you have to at least be aware of the history being made this Sunday coming. We have not only our first African-American head coach, coaching in the Super Bowl this year. We have our first and second African-American head coaches, coaching in the Super Bowl in the same year. Ladies and gentlemen… history.
20 years ago, former Los Angeles Dodgers General Manager Al Campanis made this rather, how should we say, RACIST comment that African-Americans, “may not have some of the necessities” to effectively manage a team.
Hey, check this out Al, guess what’s about to happen tonite:
Sports, just like everything: everyday life, schooling, professions, ability to vote, etc… are extremely segregated and highly discriminatory in their views. So we went from being inferior athletes, to not being “smart” enough to play some positions, to not being smart enough to be coaches on any level, to not being capable of being head coaches, to not having the wherewithall to be owners of franchises.
We’ve come a distance but we have so far to go.
+ History Lesson Time +
For NO DOLLARS … can anyone tell me who was the first African-American head coach in professional football? Any takers? Any at all? Well a very good guess that many would throw out is Art Shell. Hall of Fame offensive linemen for the Raiders who later became the first African-American head coach in professional football, in the modern era. But the correct answer is, Fritz Pollard. Mr. Pollard who was an All-American running back at Brown University in the early 1900s, became a player coach for the Akron Pros of a small professional football league which immediately preceded the now NFL. There is slight uncertainty over the years and team(s) he coached in addition to the Pros, but it goes without saying that he was in fact the first African-American head coach in professional football.
You know, it’s funny to me how some have been quick to dismiss the importance of today’s underlying story within the game (believe it or not that “some” have been mostly white journalists, while some other journalists have been quick to point out the obvious meaning of today’s game other than the winners and losers). Whether you want to admit it or not, this is an important day for African-Americans in sports. We will not discuss how there are more African-American head coaches in the NFL (6 head coaches :: 32 teams), than there are in NCAA collegiate football (6 head coaches :: which has 117) teams/schools, according to the Black Coaches Assn. All of this, in the year 2007. GOD, I love this country. [cough-cough … bullshyt .. . cough-cough]
Ladies & gentlemen, are sports as important as voting rights or schooling or work environments, etc? No. But this is isn’t about this. This is about just another aspect of life where the playing field still is not level. So later today, when Colts take on the Bears in Super Bowl XLI, yes organizations will be representing themselves, their cities, regions and franchise histories… but Coach Dungy and Coach Smith will be representing:
– the first black players to play in the NFL
– the first black players to play in a Super Bowl
– the first black player to win a Super Bowl MVP award
– the first black player to be elected to the Hall of Fame
– the first black men to coach in the Super Bowl
– the first black head coach in professional football
– the first black man to be allowed to do anything in the NFL or at any level of football or sports in general
. . . oh yeah and it’s a big fat, “TO HELL WITH WHAT YO’PUNK ASS THINKS / SAYS” to the Al Campanis’ of the world and all those like him. Because guess what, when the final gun goes off on tonight’s Super Bowl. . .
A BLACK MAN WILL HOIST UP THE TROPHY!!!
(( not to turn this into a Black History Month presentation, but hey, I didn’t schedule the Super Bowl to be in February this year ))