Dexter Rogers

Dexter Rogers

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Bruce Pearl’s racial remarks largely fly under the radar

Bruce Pearl utilized his stature as head basketball coach of the Tennessee Volunteers recently to raise money for charity. Pearl delivered a passionate speech to potential donors for charity. During his speech he resorted to the use of racial stereotypes to humor the crowd.
Here’s what Pearl stated, "I've got a tough job. I've got to put these guys from different worlds together, right? I've got guys from Chicago, Detroit. I'm talking about the hood! And I've got guys from Grainger County, where they wear the hood!" Pearl said. After a pause, he added, "That wasn't part of the script."

Pearl’s choice of words was rather poor. This country that has a ugly legacy of racism, lynching and hate. To use such remarks wasn’t necessary or warranted at a fundraiser.

Of course damage control quickly ensued. Here’s Pearl’s scripted apology, "This morning while speaking at a private kick-off event for a great organization that benefits many local charities, I made a statement in jest to describe the diverse group our staff recruits year-in and year-out. Unfortunately while I was trying to excite the crowd and encourage employees to give, I made an inappropriate joke. I certainly did not intend to offend anyone and I apologize to everyone, especially the people of Grainger County.”

When situations like this come up they should be used as “teachable moments.” Not like the farce meeting between Henry Louis Gates and President Obama at the White House. The Gates situation was such a hot-bottom topic that isn’t even talked about anymore. It’s been thoroughly swept under the rug by the media with nothing ventured and nothing gained. Just the way a segment of America wants it.

It’s not right to resort to racial stereotypes in order to satisfy your quest to raise money. How about stating the following, “I have athletes on my team come from a diverse background that I must coach and manage. I have African American athletes from urban America and I have white athletes who come from rural America. We have to work as a team, learn from our individual differences and function as a unified group.”

How is that? You get the same point across yet delivering it in a more appropriate fashion.

Objectively speaking it doesn’t appear Pearl was intending to use his platform to intentionally harm but he did. He was trying to lighten the mood while attempting to persuade the audience to reach into their pockets

There lies the problem.

It bothers me to utilize a touchy topic like race in this fashion to raise money. We’ve not progressed far enough as a nation in order to publicly make jokes about race let along profit from it.

Those in the media, educators and activists should take moments like this and truly educate. But in order to do that something must happen first.

First of all you need diversity in the media. According a study conducted by eminent scholar Richard Lapchick last year 89.7 percent of sports columnists in the mainstream media are white. The vast majority of the athletes at the professional and collegiate level are African American. Hence when the African American athlete is interviewed or quoted they are in a room full of white writers and reporters. I know first hand because I’m often one of very few African Americans in press boxes and media rooms of the events I’ve covered.

There’s a need for more African American journalists to help educate and thwart some of the racially insensitive material that arises out of stupidity and ignorance. If Golf Magazine would’ve had diversity they wouldn’t have stupidly attempted to publish a cover with a noose on it. If the New York Post would’ve had diversity it wouldn’t have published a racist caricature depicting President Obama as a chimpanzee.

Remember the latter events?

Once a level of diversity is established more constructive dialogue can take place. Then when we look at Pearl’s statements they can be utilized to inform, awaken and educate. The way things are set up now a white figure makes insensitive racial remarks, they apologize, time goes by and it’s forgotten.

That’s the travesty. Nothing is ventured, nothing is gained, but more importantly nothing is truly learned.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Lack of African American college head coaches is a result of racism

One of the biggest travesties in American sport that flies under the radar in mainstream media is the lack of African American head coaches in Division IA football. Of the 119 head coaches in big time football just four are African American. Randy Shannon of Miami, Kevin Sumlin at Houston, Mike Locksley at New Mexico and Turner Gill Buffalo are it.

According to statistics gathered by Richard Lapchick at University of Central Florida 48 percent of the players and just 3 percent of the head coaches are African Americans.

Are you kidding me?

This is blatant racism yet few are willing to consistently put this matter in the forefront to ignite constructive dialogue that will induce change.

The few African Americans who have been extended opportunities to coach have been held to higher standards then their white counterparts. The preeminent example of latter is how Notre Dame handled Tyrone Willingham five years ago. After Willingham’s third year as head coach of the Irish he posted a 6-5 record and was fired. He’d compiled a 21-15 record in his three year tenure.

Notre Dame turned to the “Great White Hope” Charlie Weis to succeed Willingham. After three years Weis posted a 22-15 record-virtually the same as Willingham’s record. In Weis’ third year he set school records for losing in posting a 3-9 season. To date Weis’ record is 34-31.

Is his record worth the reported 4.3 million Weis earns?

No head football coach in Notre Dame’s history has been fired during their contract: interesting how Willingham was the first African American head coach in school history hired and the fastest fired.

Bottom line: Willingham was held to higher standard than Weis and race was a large component. It can’t be explained with objective logic how one coach (Weis) gets a vote of confidence for losing while the other (Willingham) gets canned for winning.

Then there’s Ron Prince who was hired by Kansas St. in 2006. Prince, like Willingham, was let go at after three seasons. Prince, like Willingham, coached his team to a bowl game in his first season. His team beat the Texas Longhorns in 2006 and 2007. Prince also compiled the second most wins in team history for first two years as head coach. But after a lackluster third year Prince was shown the door.

You want more?

When the Auburn head coaching job became available last year current Buffalo head coach Turner Gill emerged as the leading candidate. Instead Auburn turned to Gene Chiznik who posted a blazing 5-19 record in his last two seasons at Iowa State. Gill during the same time posted a 13-13 record (8-6 last season) and coached his team to its first MAC title and a bowl appearance.

Former Auburn basketball standout and NBA great Charles Barkley had this to say. “I think race was the number factor. You can say it’s not about race, but you can’t compare the two resumes (Chiznik) deserved the job. Out of all the coaches they interviewed, Chiznik probably had the worse resume.”

Furthermore Gill felt he didn’t get the job is because his wife is white. I guess some things in the South have progressed yet on some levels things seemingly remain the same.

I guess Gill couldn’t make the connection because of his complexion.

I was shocked yesterday when I viewed ESPN’s First Take. Analyst Stephen Bardo suggested the lack of African Americans head coaches isn’t a result of racism. Bardo suggests it has more to do with who you know.

Again, are you kidding me?

Knowing people, as Gill suggests is merely a component of institutionalized racism. It’s not “the” reason why African Americans are snubbed from coaching posts. The basis of racism is about having the ability to control and anoint which ultimately robs African Americans and the underprivileged of opportunities.

Perhaps Bardo is afraid to tell the truth or he just doesn’t know. Let’s take this matter from the root to the fruit.

America is based on capitalism. The rise of American slavery is the preeminent example of capitalism which was the birth of racism. From slavery until the present those historically who’ve controlled the economics have also controlled the legislation and socialization of this country. That power is invested in the hands of white males.

The same racist ideological framework exists in the realm of American sports. In collegiate athletics, in this case football, nearly half of the players are African American yet over 90 percent of the schools presidents and athletic directors are white. The boosters who give the money to the schools are largely white. The latter isn’t a matter of knowing someone. It’s a matter of the power structure accumulating wealth in society and sports to taking care of their own. Hence the ability to anoint and control is byproduct of racism.

Let’s cut to the chase. We know about the annual reports on race from Richard Lapchick. We know there is a lack of diversity in collegiate athletics and American sport across the board. Despite having an African American as president there’s still a lot of work to do in society.

So when will the real work commence?

Consistent public pressure needs to be applied on officials at the top starting with the NCAA. Next, the athletes, African American head coaches and African American journalists with platforms need to use them. African American writers need to use their keyboards for change instead of fostering racism by not attacking it. The African American journalists need to really say how they feel instead of reading off prepared scripts like President Obama. If the wallets of schools are threatened they’ll surely listen and change will follow.

The NFL needs to get involved as well. College football is a farm system to the league. Take the Rooney Rule and extend it the collegiate ranks now. Two of the last three Super Bowls were won by African American head coaches. Diversity can work.

Now is the time to stop regurgitating the obvious and take constructive action. We don’t need more statistics and studies, we need results yesterday!

In short, it’s about justice and equality of opportunity on levels of society and sports. Now is time for those who profess to be for change to really be about change.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Plaxico Burress in prison because of race and celebrity

Life is a funny thing. It seems like yesterday Plaxico Burress was dominating the Green Bay Packers cornerback Al Harris in the NFC Championship game. It seems like yesterday Burress was catching the winning touchdown and hoisting the Lombardy trophy in defeating the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLII. But today Burress awakened from spending his first night in prison as he begins the long journey of coming back from a place he really doesn’t belong.

After saying an emotional goodbye to his family in a Manhattan courtroom Burress was whisked off to Rikers Island prison to begin his 2-year sentence.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg made certain Plax nearly got the max when he made his public plea Burress should be punished to the fullest extent of the law. I’m sure Bloomberg is pleased with getting such a hardened criminal like Burress off the streets.

Wouldn’t you agree?

Say what you wish but Burress is not doing a prison bid because he’s a menace to society or a hardened criminal: he’s doing a bid because of his celebrity and his complexion.

Yeah, each state has its own laws but without question the New York gun laws are strict and biased. This law wasn’t set up not clean up the streets as professed by Bloomberg and other New York politicians. It was set up to target a distinct group of people. It was set up to put small-time drug dealers, African Americans and Latinos behind bars.

Burress accidentally shot himself people. He didn’t shoot anyone else. Burress is guilty of being careless with his weapon and not filing the proper paperwork with the state. That’s it. The latter essentially equates to stupidity. But does stupidity carry a 2-year bid in prison for shooting yourself in the thigh?

As a result Burress is in a place where he shouldn’t be. He’s not a true detriment to society. Does Burress have a track record of felony arrests or murder convictions? Did he kill a man like Cleveland Browns wide receiver Donte Stallworth did while driving drunk? Stallworth took a life and served 24 days in jail while Burress spent the first of many nights in prison for shooting himself.

American justice at it’s finest.

Common sense suggests Burress should have his freedom. Doesn’t it make sense utilize Burress in society instead of making him an example? Instead of using his celebrity and complexion against him let Burress go into neighborhoods and make difference instead of placing him in the company of hardened criminals.

Oops, sorry. That’s makes too much makes sense. At the end of the day it’s about what makes dollars and not what makes sense.

From the outset this country has functioned on a sanctimonious hypocritical system that’s been substantially more criminal that just. It’s been a system that’s been historically biased towards African Americans and other so-called minorities.

The New York gun law weren’t designed to clean up the streets of crime: this gun law was designed to victimize a distinct group of people and jam their rights. It was designed to treat the symptoms of long-standing problems in society while neglecting the real issues with having a biased legal system.

Want proof?

How can anyone trust a legal system that once classified a group as “three-fifths” of a human being? How can anyone trust a system where the author of the Declaration of Independence had slaves on his premises and fathered seven children from a female slave? Such truths are rarely discussed in public forums out of fear. These issues need to be addressed because precedents established yesterday have set the stage for the legal system we have today.

Bottom line: the streets of New York are not any safer with Burress behind bars.
Burress made a mistake by being negligent. He didn’t pose a serious threat to anyone did he? He didn’t kill anyone or himself. On some level Burress was punished for what could’ve happened instead of what actually happened.

But cut the cards as you wish. Burress was made an example of because of his celebrity and race-not for being a serious danger to society.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Milton Bradley: Suspended for the rest of the season by Cubs

It was just announced today embattled outfielder Milton Bradley will be suspended for the remainder of the season for comments he made about the Chicago Cubs organization. General Manager Jim Hendry made the call with the blessing of Cubs manager Lou Piniella. Piniella said, “Jim made the decision and I support it. I really do.”

The suspension resulted from comments Bradley recently made. According to the Daily Herald of Illinois Bradley stated, "You understand why they haven't won in 100 years here."

Bradley also suggested there’s a lot of negativity in the in the club house.
"I need a stable, healthy, enjoyable environment," Bradley told the newspaper, "There's too many people everywhere in your face with a microphone asking the same questions repeatedly.
Bradley continued, "Everything is just bashing you. It's just negativity."
The Cubs needed a scapegoat for underachieving and failing to make the playoffs.
The comments didn’t warrant suspension. It’s unfairly sending a subliminal message that Bradley was a disruptive force in the locker room and was the catalyst behind the team’s woes.

Then Hendry suggested the only thing negative was Bradley’s level of production. That’s an interesting comment. Perhaps we should delve a bit further here.

Is Bradley the reason why the Cubs failed miserably the last two seasons in the playoffs by being swept?

No, he wasn’t on the team.

Is Bradley the reason why the Cubs starting pitchers like Carlos Zambrano, Rich Harden, and Randy Wells have been inconsistent all year?

Is Bradley the reason why Alphonso Soriano is batting just .239?

Is Bradley the reason why Aramis Ramirez and Derek Lee have been the only players that have showed any level of consistency this season?

It’s easy to point out one player and create the illusion that he’s the problem.
The Cubs believe Bradley needs to take a look in the mirror: that’s fine and dandy but perhaps the entire Cubs organization needs to look in the mirror as well.

Does race play a factor here?

Perhaps it does. Bradley has stated he’s been unfairly treated in part due to race. He’s been vocal about it. In the not too distant past Bradley stated he’s heard racial slurs hurled his way which prompted him to state, "All I'm saying is I just pray the game is nine innings, so I can be out there the least amount of time as possible and go home."

Why would he say that if there wasn’t at least some level of credence to it?

How many African Americans besides Derek Lee and Bradley are on the 40 man Cubs roster? Matter of fact just 10 percent of the players in the Major Leagues are African American. Then you have an African American in Bradley who is outspoken and he’s labeled. He’s been run out of town the way former Cubs manager Dusty Baker was unfairly let go years ago.

Bottom line: this isn’t about Bradley and what he said. It’s about an outspoken African American being labeled for saying something that had merit. He just didn’t go about it the right way. It’s about the Cubs organization creating an atmosphere that suggests Bradley was the reason why the Cubs stunk it up this year and didn’t live up to expectations.

It’s not about Bradley: it’s about the whole team. When will the Cubs take responsibility and put the blame where it really belongs?

The Cub faithful blame the goat for being forever cursed for their World Series drought; they blame the “Bartman” incident for losing six years ago; and now they blame Bradley for disrupting the team this year.

Does Bradley need to look in the mirror? Sure. But he shouldn’t be alone. The Cubs organization as a whole needs to look in the mirror as well and put the blame where it really belongs.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Cubs: The fat lady hasn’t sung but she’s on deck

CHICAGO - The Chicago Cubs have played well as of late in keeping their slim hopes at a wildcard alive. After dropping two straight at home to the Milwaukee Brewers it may be too little too late.

What started out with so much promise and a possible run at the World Series has turned into a season of disappointment. Marred by injuries, inconsistent play, poor pitching and consistent lineup shifts the Cubs are winding down their lackluster season.

The Cubs entered yesterday’s final game of their 4-game series with the Brewers with a slim chance of gaining ground in the wildcard race. But after losing to the Brewers 7-4 it may be over soon. Even though the fat lady hasn’t begun to sing she’s certainly on deck warming up those vocal cords.

In front of 39,158 fans at Wrigley Field starting pitcher Randy Wells found himself with the same pitching woes which have plagued Cubs hurlers all season. Two days ago poor pitching by Rich Harden led to the Cubs losing to the Milwaukee Brewers 9-5. Harden lasted just 3 innings while giving up 5 runs on 71 pitches. Harden stated, “You try not to think about that, Harden said. “Either way I still have to go out and do my job and I didn’t do that today. I’ve got three starts left here, and I’ve go to get it done.”

Today Wells couldn’t find his control. He gave up 5 runs and totaled 5 walks in just 4 innings. Wells managed to pitch himself out of a first-inning bases loaded jam and luckily just gave up one run. Wells found himself in the same position in the fourth-inning but this time he wasn’t as fortunate. With two outs and the bases loaded outfielder Jody Gerut cracked a grand slam homerun making the score 5-2 in favor of the Brewers. A lead they never relinquished.

What’s with the Cubs?

The last two seasons the Cubs have put together summer winning streaks for the ages. They positioned themselves with strong pitching and hitting to go into the playoffs with high expectations. Despite those high expectations the Cubs came up disappointedly short in being swept in the opening round of the playoffs the last two years.

For a myriad of reasons they’ve not been able to right the ship this season.
But despite the erratic play, injuries and inconsistent pitching the Cubbies can still mathematically sneak into the playoffs. Two days ago Piniella suggested if the Cubs could put together a nice run they’d be in the thick of things. He stated, “Look, again, we still have 19 games to play (18 after today’s game). We’re on the outskirts, but we’re still there. If we put together a nice 5, 6-game winning streak from here on out, and you’d be surprised how quick you’re in it.”

But then Piniella sounded as if he’s packed it in by talking about next year as if this one is all but over. He said, “Just staying healthy, alone, would help immensely. I would obviously see this team here being very competitive next year.”

After yesterdays disappointing loss Piniella declined to come take his lumps in the media room. One has to wonder if he really wants to manage this team.

Coming down the stretch if the Cubbies can find some consistency with their pitching and get their bats going they can maybe live up to those expectations and make a run at a wildcard. They better start tonight as they travel to St. Louis.

But, as Cubs fans have been doing for just over a century they’ll probably have to wait until next year: add another season to the World Series drought.

But as Piniella suggested a winning streak can chance things around. Who knows, but if it’s going to happen it better happen quick. Even thought the fat lady hasn’t officially begun to sing she’s certainly on deck warming up those vocal cords.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Michael Jordan: Air Jordan lands in Hall of Fame, greatest ever?

Michael “Air” Jordan has finally landed where he rightfully belongs and that’s in the Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield. But during his acceptance speech Jordan suggested it may not be over just yet. He implied he may come back at age 50. Jordan stated, “But one day you might look and see me playing the game at 50. Oh don’t laugh. Never say never. Because limits like fears are often illusions.”

If anyone can play in the NBA at age 50 it may be Jordan.

There’s no need to go into Jordan’s numbers. Everyone knows about the six championships, scoring titles, dazzling dunks and last minute shots. Everyone knows about the shoes, endorsements and how we all wanted “to be like Mike.” Why regurgitate the obvious. Let’s examine the intangibles. I’ve always admired Jordan’s lazar-like focus. He put his mind on a task and didn’t stop until he achieved it. Even when he tried baseball after his first retirement many deemed it a failure.


Jordan put himself out there, chased a dream to find out if he could achieve it or not. Failing is never mounting an effort. Failing is not dreaming and taking action to bring out your vision to fruition. Failing is lip service without action.

So, how did Jordan fail?

On the basketball court many have anointed Jordan as the greatest of all time. The argument can be made and very strongly. I tend to gravitate towards those players who changed the game. Bill Russell, Kareem Abdul Jabbar, and Wilt Chamberlain changed the game. The league installed rules to curtail their dominance. The same can’t be said of MJ.

There’s Oscar Robertson, who was as complete a basketball player as they come. He simply did it all. Robertson averaged a triple-double for three consecutive years during the 1960’s. I’d surely put Magic Johnson in the conversation as well.

What Jordan did was take advantage of those pioneers who set the table for him, market himself like know one else and win. Jordan took the spectacular talents of Connie Hawkins, David Thompson, and Julius Erving and extended them to greater heights. He cemented his legacy in basketball by winning championships, living a fairly clean life, and playing it safe off the court. Jordan’s electrifying play over his career along with protection from the media helped us think Jordan was a super-human dream.

In short, I don’t think Jordan is the greatest of all time but perhaps he’s the most important basketball player of all time.

It was recently suggested by ESPN’s Rick Reilly that Jordan’s number 23 should be retired league wide. It’s a nice gesture but I can’t go there and here’s why.

This question makes me think of Jackie Robinson’s number 42 being retired league wide. Robinson was a warrior who truly transcended a sport and a nation. He deserved to have his number retired for his efforts on and off the field in breaking athletic and social barriers that existed because of racism. Robinson integrated Americas Pastime in 1947 that ultimately provided opportunities for African Americans in society and sports.

Robinson lived through, played, and faced racism on a daily basis. Robinson sacrificed of himself knowing full well future generations would benefit and he wouldn’t: much like Curt Flood, Jim Brown and Muhammad Ali did. Without question Jordan, along with everyone else in society and sports, stands on the shoulders of many.

Outside of basketball Jordan hasn’t shaped or even attempted to mold a legacy with respect to activism. He’s a dormant enigma when it comes to social issues, speaking out and taking stands against injustice. Jordan has rarely acknowledged those who came before him in society and sports that made it possible for him to do his thing.

Having said that it’s not warranted that Jordan have his jersey retired league wide.

Too much is given much is expected. Jordan has meticulously kept his greatness neatly tucked within the confines of basketball. He wouldn’t dare speak out and take stands because that could mean losing some of his grace, fame and money. With respect to activism Jordan bought into the “keep your mouth shut” attitude. He was a master of it. It was an unspoken rule in the media to never disrupt this icon’s world with controversial questions. Therefore we the fans were induced to think Jordan was free of error and didn’t engage in indiscretions of any sort.

In the realm of American sport Jordan deserves all the accolades bestowed upon him. He deserves to be in the Hall of Fame and he may be the best of all time. I enjoyed watching him as an athlete and loved the way his mind worked. But to not utilize that platform to make changes around this country, speak out on controversial issues and provide direction in society is a shame.

Everyone in life has a choice in terms of activism, to speak or not to speak. Its obvious Jordan did lot of talking on the court with his play. It would’ve been nice to have that talk extend beyond the basketball courts he once thoroughly dominated.

But, as Jordan stated about coming back at age 50, “never say never.” I won’t hold my on him coming back or speaking out.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Serena Williams: Williams blows up, loses to Clijsters amidst outburst

Serena Williams went down with like a ball of fire during her semi final match against Kim Clijsters. Serena lost the match by default 6-4, 7-5. She not only lost the match she lost her cool. Her emotions robbed her of an opportunity to win her 12th Grand Slam.

When serving 15-30, second serve in the second set Williams was called for a foot fault. Based on the film it was clear Williams’ did not commit a foot fault. Williams took exception to the call began to berate the female lines person. Williams reportedly stated, “I swear to God I’m (expletitve) going to take this (expletive) ball and shove it down your (expletive) throat, you hear that? I swear to God.”

As she was about to serve Williams began a second verbal onslaught on the lines person. The chair umpire summoned the linesperson along with tournament director Brian Early. A discussion ensued which, according to the lines person, alleged Williams stated she was “going to kill” her.

Williams suggested she never said that. She declared to Early and the chair umpire, “I didn’t say ‘I was gonna kill you.’ Are you serious? Are you serious? I didn’t say that!”

After the discussion Williams was defaulted from the match by being assessed a point penalty which essentially handed Cljisters the match without her having to swing her racquet. Even though Clijsters was playing well, this match ultimately will not be remembered for the shots she made-it will be remembered for Williams’ outburst.

In the press conference Williams was asked if she threatened to kill the lines person. She stated, “I’ve never been in a fight my whole life, so I don’t know why she should have felt threatened.”

This situation was disappointing to witness on several fronts. First of all, Williams didn’t commit a foot fault. Foot faults shouldn’t be called if it’s not clear. This was the semi finals of the US Open. To make such a call at crucial time of the match was idiotic.

Secondly, I’m not condoning Williams’ outburst but on some level I can understand it. She’s been involved in controversial events that didn’t go her way when they should have. Williams accused Justine Henin of being a poor sport at the 2003 French Open. At the 2004 US Open against Jennifer Capriati Williams received several bad line calls in quarter final match she lost.

At this year’s French Opens Williams accused Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez of cheating. In all the latter situations Williams’ assertions were correct. She’s been treated unfairly at times. In essence her outburst could be viewed as culmination of events built up over time.

But let’s not forget Clijsters. She was playing extremely well. It’s quite possible she was going win the match. But sadly we’ll never know if Williams was going to demonstrate that fighting spirit and mount a comeback.

Did Williams use a poor choice of words? Yes. Did Williams act unprofessionally? One some level yes. But it almost must be acknowledged that the linesperson made a bad call that ignited Williams’ outburst. It must be acknowledged that it was a poor decision to default the defending champion at the semi finals of the US Open. It must also be acknowledged Williams has had a history of bad calls and poor sportsmanship against her in big events.

This unfortunate situation will go down in US Open history and will ultimately reflect negatively on Williams’ legacy. Some of the criticism of Williams is warranted but not all. No matter how you view this situation view it in its entirety. Don’t focus on the most salient events. By focusing only on the outburst your perception will obviously be skewed.

It’s just too bad this match won’t be remembered for how it was played: it will be remembered for what was said.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Boise St. player still not disciplined for role in recent altercation

Apparently Boise St. player Byron Hout, who instigated former Oregon running back LeGarrette Blount into punching him, will not be disciplined for his role in the altercation which took place last week. After the game as Blount was leaving the field Hout taunted Blount. Blount took exception and punched Hout.

We all know Blount is gone with the wind because of his temporary lapse in judgment. Now his college career is over as he was suspended for the remainder of the year for the punch. Then there’s Hout who aided in creating the atmosphere for the altercation to take place and he gets nothing.

What makes this situation so extreme is one, it’s not being talked about anymore. In the world of sports things change daily like the interest rates. It’s a shame one guy gets the book thrown at him while the other gets off.
Boise St. head coach Chris Petersen has this to say yesterday regarding Hout, "Byron is being disciplined, there's no question about that," Petersen continued. "It was the wrong thing to do to say anything to anybody on the football field, but if everybody got suspended for saying something, half the teams wouldn't have guys to play games. I think it's something that everybody has learned from - our program and hopefully teams from the outside."
According to WAC Commissioner Karl Benson Hout violated the sportsmanship code which consists of three levels of punishment. It can consist of a private reprimand, a public reprimand or a suspension. Hout did not receive either of the last two.
Petersen’s quote suggested Hout has been disciplined, but how? Hout is still practicing, going to class and playing in games while Blount had everything taken away.

So how exactly was Hout disciplined? I guess Hout just got a slap on the butt and told not to do it again and off to class and the practice field he goes.
This whole situation is rather odd and unfair. Odd because it’s obvious one player is being treated unfairly by being disciplined too harshly and unfair because Hout seemingly has the support of the coach Petersen and WAC commissioner Karl Benson.

Let’s play role reversal here. Let’s say Hout punched Blount. Do you think Hout would have the book thrown at him?

Cut the cards as you wish but race plays a part in this situation. Racism in sports is a reflection of the society that created it. People are afraid to constructively talk about race out of fear. So let’s declare this be a “teachable moment.”

In this particular case race isn’t the preeminent variable but it exists based on how sanctions were administered. If Hout punched Blout rest assured at minimum both players would’ve been disciplined. It’s also safe to assume Hout wouldn’t have had his whole senior year taken away from him like Blount.

Also, if Blount were in Hout’s position many more people would be clamoring for justice by stating, “Why is the guy who instigated the whole thing (Blount) didn’t get disciplined?”

Another key variable is showing “the punch” incident on the jumbo-tron repeatedly after the game was over. Such shenanigans only made a bas situation worse while simultaneously reinforcing negative stereotypes. It showed the angry African American athlete who can’t control his emotions punching the white guy. ESPN got a hold of it and off it went. Blount could’ve gotten on his knees and begged for mercy on national television but it wouldn’t have done any good. Blount’s fate was already signed, sealed and delivered.

Say as you wish but with the passage of time this situation will continue to fade into oblivion like many other key issues that pervade in society and sports. As it fades the inequality remains, few lessons are learned, and the clock continues to tick. Just like a segment of society and the media wants it.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

The Indianapolis Colts have quietly set a high standard of excellence on and off the field

The Indianapolis Colts have endured a lot of changes in the off season yet many things remain the same. Peyton Manning is still there poised for another strong year. Reggie Wayne will be sharp as ever and Anthony Gonzalez is fast becoming a great receiver.

But the team lost head coach Tony Dungy to retirement. The great Marvin Harrison wasn’t resigned, which was a shock to many Colts fans. It’s hard to believe a receiver of Harrison’s stature cannot contribute at least as a third receiver.

They are some key questions with respect to the health of the team as well. Can Joseph Addai finally live up to his potential while staying healthy? Can defensive guru Bob Sanders simply get healthy and contribute consistently?

The latter will find a way to work itself out over time. But there’s a story that’s gone a bit unnoticed regarding the Indianapolis Colts off the field. We all know Tony Dungy retired after last seasons playoff exit leaving Jim Caldwell to talk over the helm.
Caldwell inherits a great team as he takes over for the soon to be Hall of Fame coach while simultaneously trying to put his stamp on the franchise.

Dungy compiled a 148-79 record including playoff games. Dungy also won at least 12 games for six consecutive seasons. That’s never been done before by any head coach in history.

But let’s move beyond the latter.

In the NFL coaches get selected one of three ways. Announcers hype up the next great coach from the collegiate ranks who may leap to the NFL. Or some former coach lurks in the wings and comes out of the commentating both to take over for a coach on the hot seat. And finally a coach retires and anoints their successor.

Without question the Colts are first rate franchise. Dungy was a great coach and he hand-picked his guy. It’s the first time in NFL history that an African American coach hand-picked his successor with the organizations blessings.

It was a little known occurrence that wasn’t talked about much in the media but it was significant. In the NFL you have coaching trees. It’s when coaches of great success have young coaches who excel under their tutelage and achieve success on their own. Bill Walsh had a tree that included Mike Holmgren, Dennis Green and Jon Gruden. Bill Parcells has a tree that included Bill Belichick and Sean Peyton. And now Tony Dungy has his tree that includes Lovie Smith, Mike Tomlin, Marvin Lewis and now Jim Caldwell.

This is significant because it demonstrates African Americans can excel in the NFL in other capacities other than being players on the field. This expands the dream formation of aspiring African Americans who want to stay in the game once the cheering stops. It’s hard to achieve that which you don’t see. We’ve seen Tony Dungy and Lovie Smith square off in a Super Bowl as head coaches. We’ve just seen Mike Tomlin win a Super Bowl last season. Now Jim Caldwell is getting his shot to lead. All of this is on Dungy’s watch and under his tree.

Without opportunity nothing is possible. Let’s not forget the Colts front office. Dungy’s tree was allowed to blossom because of Jim Irsay and the Indianapolis Colts organization. They provided Dungy the opportunity to work his magic and they trusted his judgment in running the team his way. The Colts organization has quietly set an example of inclusion.

Dungy didn’t get the head coaching job because he was an African American. He was selected because he was the best man for the job who happened to be African American. Much applause goes to the Indianapolis Colts organization. They’ve set a high standard of excellence on the field by recently winning a Super Bowl and off the field by selecting the best men for the job irrespective of color.