Monday, October 31, 2005

Not to be lost in the shuffle of judicial nominations and indictments is Washington Post columnist Michael Wilbon's take on the earlier controversy over remarks by Air Force football coach Fisher DeBerry, who expressed a need for more black players since he considers them to be faster than his white players. Critics summarily called for his head but Wilbon believes "DeBerry has nothing to apologize for." He goes on:

Since Jason Sehorn retired from the NFL a season or so ago, how many white starting cornerbacks are there in the NFL? The answer, as far as I can find, is zero. And even if I missed one or two, fact is that a position based largely on speed is 99 percent black in the NFL. That's not the same as making a presumption about the intelligence or character of cornerbacks, black or white. It's fact, jack. DeBerry didn't offer any cultural or empirical evidence about cornerbacks; he just said he would like faster ones, and as the NFL demonstrates, the fastest ones are black. That isn't even debatable.

I've heard some black dissent, but mostly I hear objection being raised by white administrators and media colleagues, a sort of misplaced white liberal guilt, if you ask me....

Wilbon also addresses Hank Aaron's "very disturbing" feelings about the Houston Astros not having any black players on the team:

That's because we, black American men, have turned away from baseball. Overwhelmingly, we've cast our lot with basketball and football, and that's it. Only 9 percent of the players on Major League rosters on Opening Day were black and American.... But nobody's keeping black folks from playing baseball now, except mostly ourselves. The peer pressure is to give up everything in life for basketball. The percentage of blacks in the minor leagues, reportedly, is smaller than the percentage in the big leagues. But this isn't 1944.... But what should never be suggested, not by Aaron or anybody else, is that baseball resort to some quota to have more black major leaguers.... How would it go down if somebody suggested two or three spots on every NBA team be reserved for a white player?


Anonymous said...

Good for Wilbon on this. I saw the way that ESPN reported this "story" the other day and could not believe it. The reader talked in serious tones about the controversial comments from the coach. I then saw the tape of what was actually said and all I could think of was that it was something cooked up by guilty white guys who perceive any mention of race to be, ipso facto, racist.
Maybe the story here is that we can never ever get past race because we can never ever discuss race.

Anonymous said...

Kudos to Wilbon. I'm still trying to figure out what the "controversy" is - the essence of DeBerry's remarks is that his team was insufficiently ethnically diverse to be competitive, and for this he gets pilloried as a racist? The man has absorbed (properly, in this instance) one of the diversity watchdogs' most vociferously repeated arguments, and he gets criticized? I suppose in the future he should just take the University of Michigan approach and established minority quotas, preferences and set-asides for his team, talent be damned, and keep his mouth shut about it.

Anonymous said...

I think what we really need to discuss is the disgraceful lack of african americans in professional hockey.

Anonymous said...

I'm a life-long Colt.45s/Astros fan and never even thought about the current racial makeup of the team until someone brought it up. I suppose the Latin players don't count--or do they? I dont even know any of the 'Stros religion. I always liked Hammerin' Hank, but he's become a bitter old bore.

Anonymous said...

"How would it go down if somebody suggested two or three spots on every NBA team be reserved for a white player?"

You mean, there isn't? Then how did guys like Chris Dudley stick around for so long?

miklos rosza said...

Kudos for Michael Wilbon. It may take a while before anything about race can be discussed honestly, penly, in good faith.

As for Chris Dudley, he was much than many white 7-footers who were paid a lot more money than him. Dudley was a backup center who could rebound and play defense. Period. He was also one of the worst free-throw shooters ever, but that was mere epiphenomena, as he had no interest in doing anything on offense but setting screens and occassionally dunking an offensive rebound.

Compared to such flops as Blair Rasmussen, Jon Koncak, Joe Wolf and many others, he really didn't seem to suffer that badly from the white man's disease of having his feet nailed to the floor.

I was on an undefeated high school basketball team with some amazing young black athletes on it. We had guys 5'8" who could dunk. I've never seen a 5'8" white guy dunk a basketball in my life.

Anonymous said...

Let me second the kudos to Wilbon. This whole sorry incident says much more about how totally crippling the burden of political correctness is in our society than it does about any alleged racism is pro sports. If something as mild and nondebateable as BeBerry's comments can be considered racist then we all are in serious trouble.

Anonymous said...

DeBerry's comments are "racist", in the sense that they denigrate and stereotype white athletes as "slow". Mr. Wilbon and Mr. Deberry would do well to speak to Baylor track coach Clyde Hart, who has long argued against stereotyping of all athletes.

"Since many black athletes come out of difficult economic situations, Hart said, they see sports as a way out — a way to succeed when other avenues are not open to them."

"A lot of the white athletes are privileged," he said. "They have their automobiles. They don't need to be trying to get a scholarship or making an international team to see the world."

I mean, just look at Wilbon. I don't see much that that dude could outrun.