We write a lot about sports here. We do this because, quite simply, sports offered the primary mechanism for the acceptance of Black integration into mainstream American life to occur.
|BYU – in white – plays a team that looks like the Hoosiers starting five|
Black athletic heroes in football did more to integrate the South then anything Martin Luther King Jr. every could have said. Those were the words of beloved University of Alabama football head coach Bear Bryant.
It became a universal belief that having too many white players on a football or basketball team was a liability; that only by recruiting Black athletes could a championship-caliber team materialize.
Sure, whites can play quarterback and offensive line in football, but positions like tailback, receiver and defensive back became reserved real estate for the Black athlete.
In college and professional basketball, many people believe that the only white person on the court should be a referee (though in some cases, this white representation is a problem). One writer from Sports Illustrated went so far as to say that any championship where Black people were barred from participation should scarcely be called a national title.
He insinuates that only Black people make sports legitimate. Basketball, football and track represent the only sports where Black people are dominant, though in Black Run America (BRA) any sport that doesn’t have sufficient Black participation is not considered a viable sport.
Basketball and football are the big two and for a simple reason: people have been conditioned to believe that the Black athlete is superior.
On the playing field, evidence would support this supposition to be true. An Orlando Sentinel study showed that recent Sweet Sixteen teams had a paucity of white players. Auburn’s 2010 championship football team had five white starters out of 22. In the classroom, however, Black football and basketball players perform at a level of regrettably low merit:
“That disparity is troublesome. Among the Sweet 16, white male basketball student-athletes graduate at 97 percent versus only 57 percent of African-American male basketball student-athletes. White female basketball student-athletes graduate at 97 percent, while 90 percent of African-American female basketball student-athletes graduate. The men’s 40 percentage point disparity among the men is 13 percentage points greater than last year. The women’s seven percentage point disparity is two percentage points higher than last year.“
White athletes keep the graduation of major college football and basketball programs respectable, while many believe that the Black athletes that represent lily-white universities as hired help keep their sports teams respectable.
Teams that play white athletes are routinely picked on, from the Air Force Falcons in football to the Duke Blue Devils in basketball. The programmed and conditioned belief in Black superiority in football and basketball is reinforced nightly on ESPN Sports Center where individual achievement supersedes the team aspect of sports.
Colleges coaches make a living off of exploiting Black athletic talent, where the rare, true student-athlete like Myron Rolle is glorified to unimaginable heights. The real academic abilities of Black athletes are represented in their horrible graduation rates and worse, in the Wonderlic scores of potential $10 million slaves.
The rare college coach who recruits a team of primarily white basketball players or dares to go after a white running back, receiver or corner back will have opposing coaches tell Black recruits that he is somehow a racist. Playing white players in positions that years of consuming ports through television has conditioned the average viewer of Black superiority is a no-win situation.
College coaches like Bob Huggins of West Virginia (formerly of Cincinnati) make huge salaries of the exploitation of Black athletes who have no business in school; coaches like Jim Tressel make huge salaries while covering up the illegal behavior of Black athletes who have no business in school.
The day after last year’s classic championship game between Duke and Butler, ESPN’s Rob Parker and Skip Bayless spoke about the unusual number of white players in the game, which boasted (gasp!) five white starters. The Hated vs. The Hoosiers had more than lived up to its billing in showcasing two teams playing tough, smart basketball in a closely fought battle that came down to the last shot as Duke squeaked out a 61-59 victory. It was widely acclaimed as one of the best title games of all time. The nation’s First Fan, President Obama, was inspired to call both teams in their locker rooms to congratulate them. But in the context of this discussion of the game’s “whiteness,” Parker labeled this one-for-the-ages final as being one of the worst NCAA championships ever. Not content with that statement, he added that if Butler — the mid-major team with two Academic All-Americans that had captured the hearts of every non-Duke fan along with at least one Duke fan in yours truly — had won the game, they would have been the worst championship team ever.
His synopsis seemed a pretty clear code for racial preference: Parker didn’t like how these white guys played the game.
Parker is an obnoxious Black reporter for ESPN, whose opinion of the classic 2010 National Title game didn’t match that of Duke’s Coach Mike Kryzewski. He said it seemed “pure”:
Except that the Blue Devils had not won a national title since 2001 and had not been to the Final Four in six years. The senior class of Scheyer, forward Lance Thomas and 7’1″ center Brian Zoubek had lost as freshmen to Virginia Commonwealth in the first round of the NCAA tournament; as sophomores to West Virginia in the second round; and as juniors, by an embarrassing 23 points, to Villanova in the Sweet 16. “People were down on us,” says Scheyer. “We weren’t where a normal Duke team should be.”
But the struggle had served them. Scheyer was toughened by defeat and criticism. Zoubek had missed big chunks of his sophomore and junior years because of two surgeries on his left foot, and with six weeks left in his career he was suddenly playing with unexpected hunger. Duke lost three games in 22 days during January but only one the rest of the season. The Blue Devils came to Indianapolis with three seniors and two juniors in the starting lineup, something straight out of 1975. Butler, meanwhile, played a rotation that included three sophomores, three juniors and one senior, but among those seven only Hayward, who plays forward but has guard skills and a big vertical leap, was considered likely to play in the NBA the next year. Or ever.
“When the teams were out there,” says Krzyzewski, “nobody watching was thinking, This pro and that pro. Where will they go in the draft? It was just about these kids at Butler and those kids at Duke. The word people kept using with me was pure. It just seemed pure.”
Professional athletics don’t matter anymore. Yes, they generate unbelievable revenue (well, maybe not the NBA), but the players have guaranteed contracts and many play for the money which they inevitably lose after retiring from the game.
Which brings us to the purity of BYU. A Black basketball voluntarily turned himself in this season, because he violated the “Honor Code”; this code reminds us of what once was the code for all of America before the integration. Ruinous pathologies in the Black community trickled into the mainstream, making Brigham Young University’s Honor Code seem outdated and an archaic reminder of America’s chaste past.
But it’s a past that exists as a stark reminder to today’s quickly eroding morality. An ESPN writer once wrote that winning at basketball was a Black or white decision at BYU:
Behind the visiting bench at Arizona State, there walked a proud BYU alumnus, a black basketball player wearing his letterman’s jacket and inspiring his old coach to the brink of tears. Out of nowhere, Cougar head coach Steve Cleveland had a vision validating everything. He reached out to Silester Rivers, wrapped his arms around him and squeezed him so tight.
“I just had to tell him what it meant to me to see him there,” Cleveland said. “This was something that a lot of people didn’t think we could do.”
Back in the beginning, these were Cleveland’s favorite moments as a high school and junior college coach: The kids stopping back to visit, telling him they would do it all over again. Yet, this was different. This was BYU.
This was a black player. And for the longest time, this had been a struggle. Rivers hadn’t just worked to restore the program to respectability in his two seasons (1998-2000), but turned the tide on the turmoil surrounding the coach’s commitment to changing the complexion of the BYU basketball program. All at once at Arizona State in December, it washed over Cleveland: His plan to recruit more black players more relentlessly wasn’t just worthy; it was working. It wouldn’t just be enough for Cleveland to take this job six years ago and get the best Mormon recruits to return to BYU, the university founded and operated by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. He sold the school on reaching back to his own roots with inner-city players, with a recruiting pool that had long been ignored by his predecessors in Provo.
All those years of Mormon recruits, the Danny Ainges to the Shawn Bradleys, brought the Cougars a rich basketball history, if not a dubious and telling claim: BYU has the most NCAA Tournament appearances (19) without a Final Four appearance. It wasn’t just that Cleveland wanted to make his basketball program reflect the church’s growing black membership around the world; nor that Cleveland had comfort coaching mostly black players in his junior college background. It was the purely practical purpose of getting great basketball players and winning again.
“This is a sport dominated by African-American players, and we need them to compete on the highest level,” Cleveland said. And so, five years ago, Cleveland awoke one night covered in a cold sweat and asked himself: “Do I want to bring in another African-American and have him fail?” That had been the worst week of his coaching life, when his first two black recruits — Ron Selleaze, his top scorer, and Michael Garrett, his point guard — violated the university’s strict Honor Code policy with a marijuana possession arrest at a campus party. They had come with Cleveland out of Fresno City College, where they played basketball for him before he was hired at BYU in 1997.
Eventually, charges were dropped against Garrett, but he and Selleaze left school. Cleveland believed he was to blame. “At that time, it was the most devastating thing in my 27 years of coaching,” Cleveland said. “I had never been through anything so public in my life. I felt personally responsible because I didn’t feel I put them in the proper position. I could’ve done more to prevent it. I should’ve been more pro-active. We learned our lesson.” After that night of soaked doubt, Cleveland reported to the BYU basketball office the next morning, gathered his assistants and told them: “We’re not going to stop doing this.” As he remembered thinking, “We’ve got too much to offer, and I told my staff that morning that we were going to continue to bring in non-LDS kids. It was the greatest decision I ever made.” Five years later, Cleveland has recruited four more black players to BYU, including starting junior point guard Kevin Woodberry and redshirt freshman Jermaine Odjegba.
Cleveland was the improbable choice for the BYU job six years ago, an unknown junior college coach transforming into an inspired hire: Cleveland turned a 1-27 team into a Mountain West Conference power, reaching the NCAA Tournament in 2000, in 2001 and 2002 and bringing BYU to the brink of the NCAA’s again this season at 18-6 and 7-2 in the conference.
This article was written in the mid-2000s. BYU wouldn’t escape the first round of the NCAA tournament until 2010, when a white boy named Jimmer Fredette helped the Cougars shock Florida in double overtime. Tonight, they’ll play Florida in a rematch of that epic game and BYU will play five white players throughout the entire game, against the Gators one or two white players.
Even Sports Illustrated tried to say that the white athlete at BYU was nothing but an anomaly, but the emergence of a team of white basketball players in the NCAA tournament goes far beyond Coach K of Duke’s “pure” national title game between his team and Butler in 2010.
It could represent a damaging blow to Black Run Ameria (BRA) primary mystique; Black America’s continued failures are only tolerated because of the need for entertainment from Black athletes in football and basketball on both the collegiate and professional level.
If BYU gets past Florida, Duke Hate will seem like compliment compared to what the team of white players led by the amazing Jimmer Fredette face. It will be much worse then what Peyton Hillis endured.
White athletes succeeding on a national scale without Black athletes in either football or basketball is a sight rarely seen on television. BYU’s 2011 team that looks like the cast of Hoosiers could emphatically change that in a couple of games.
If BYU gets past Florida, the BYU Hate coming from sports reporters will be explicitly white hate.
* Update: BYU lost in overtime to Florida. Exciting game that saw BYU tie it late. Oh well, our points still remain true: Duke Hate is basically a conditioned response to the oddity of seeing a team of predominate white student-athletes playing a sport dominated by Black athlete-students. Congrats to the Gators.