Monday, March 16, 2015

Racism and UNC football

I was talking to a guy last week whose son had played football for UNC.  He told me about the incredible level of racial tension on the team, of how black and white players do not sit together for meals and how the black players flat out hate the white players.

Presumably, the coaching staff does little to manage this situation.  I don't know about you, but this strikes me as less than ideal.  Time was, the American core culture sports -- basketball and football for the most part, to a lesser extent baseball, at least in the south -- acted as a great melting pot, the test nucleus for integration.  They weren't universally successful in terms of providing a path to integration and economic progress for everyone, but at the very least lifetime relationships were forged between black and white players.*

The week before, I had been to a talk by Duke football coach David Cutcliffe.  Not caring much about football, I had never heard of the guy.  But he talked a good talk about focusing on the character of his players when recruiting, on looking specifically for kids who didn't just do well in school, but who had shown character in getting their butts to class on time. I must say I was impressed.

*As an aside, I should note that I've always felt a bit of guilt that, as a soccer player, I was, unbeknownst to myself, part of the leading edge of resegregation. I just knew I was too scrawny to play football and somehow never developed into much of a basketball player.  I tend to put my basketball underperformance down to late-blooming and poor fine motor skills, but who knows, maybe that's just excuse making.  Other skinny white kids did OK.  Like our boy Riguz.


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