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Racial lessons overdue

first_imgI thought we had learned the lesson. I really did. But apparently I was wrong. Every time there’s a racial outburst by a coach, player, whoever in the world of sports, it seems like it will finally be the last. People generally learn their lesson when it comes to something like that, don’t they?Heck, what kind of person can watch “Remember the Titans” without shaking his head at the ridiculousness of the situation. That’s the point … white, black, Hispanic, whatever … it doesn’t matter. The 1950s and ’60s have been gone for half a century.People should be able to move past the issue of race. But some keep rehashing the divide. Foolish remarks regarding a black player forced Oklahoma baseball coaching legend Larry Cochell to resign after leading the program for more than a decade. Former Green Bay Packer great Paul Hornung caught heat in 2004 after saying his alma mater, Notre Dame, should lower its academic standards to “get the black athlete.” These are just a couple of examples, and there are enough out there to fill this entire column, if need be.But apparently Fisher DeBerry didn’t catch wind of Hornung’s comments. Or maybe he did, and just thought the Golden Boy made a pretty convincing argument. Whatever the reason, the Air Force head football coach couldn’t lay off the topic earlier this week.”We were looking at things, like you don’t see many minority athletes in our program,” DeBerry said in an interview with The Gazette of Colorado Springs.But that’s not all.”It just seems to be that way, that Afro-American kids can run very, very well. That doesn’t mean that Caucasian kids and other descents can’t run, but it’s very obvious to me they run extremely well,” DeBerry said, comments that were broadcasted by KWGN-TV in Denver.Now, I realize DeBerry is amid a difficult year. The Falcons are 3-5 on the year and struggled to a 5-6 finish in 2004. If they keep up their disappointing play, DeBerry would suffer a fate he has never had to deal with at the Academy — two consecutive losing seasons. Yeah, that’s rough. But is this really the best way to respond to that adversity? Absolutely not.Is this really going to be a recurring theme in the world of college football? A team is slumping, so it blames the struggles on a lack of black players?DeBerry’s line of thinking (and throw in Hornung’s as well) is the kind of simple-mindedness that plagues our society with stereotypes. And I hope coaches who choose to open their mouths in the future realize exactly what they’re doing — feeding the discriminatory thoughts of the morons who subscribe to them.Correct me if I’m wrong, but I seem to remember the Air Force having a pretty darn good linebacker a couple of years back. This guy flew around to the football, making play after play for a Falcon team that began the year on a tear. He ran pretty well. He was an absolute physical specimen. His name was Anthony Schlegel.Schlegel transferred from the Academy after the 2002 season, saying he wasn’t happy at Air Force. Now Schlegel finds himself in the middle of a talented Ohio State defense and ranks second on the team in tackles. And, what’s more, Schlegel is white. Maybe DeBerry should concentrate on working with the players in his midst rather than musing about the racial breakdown of his team. Maybe it’s just me, but I’ve always believed the best way to build a football team — or team in any sport — is to recruit the best players who will fit into your program, regardless of race. It shouldn’t matter. Unfortunately for old-timers like DeBerry, that lesson seems to have been lost.last_img

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