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Affirmative Action for Sports By: Ari Kaufman
FrontPageMagazine.com | Tuesday, March 21, 2006

When the late Johnnie Cochran and other lawyers, with the aid of the "Black Coaches Association" passed legislation in 2002 that all National Football league teams must interview at least one "minority" candidate for potential head coaching jobs, the NFL timidly acquiesced, and Affirmative Action had officially arrived in collegiate and pro sports.

In its most blunt terms, Cochran's gang's class-action discrimination lawsuit forced the rules to now decree that regardless of experience or achievement, a quota of one African American (or other "minority") was to be given a chance at being hired for a football coaching job. Why was this rule necessary? Its advocates said it was, because at the time only three of the 106 Division One college football coaches were black, and only four of 30 NFL coaches were of "minority persuasion." And yes, since the BCA was the impetus behind the move, and since there are few, if any, Latino, Asian, Indian, Jewish, Arab, or Armenian coaches in college or the NFL that we must assume, as always, that "minority" equals black.

Four years ago, the National Football League fined the Detroit Lions for not following the new league hiring policies of interviewing at least one minority. The whole process reeks of condescension and most objective observers have noted that, by and large, these required interviews have been a waste of time and money. Naturally though, no one objected to the new rules, likely for fear of being blackballed.

College football has also seen baseless claims of racism. Early in 2005, Notre Dame quickly became the culprit of racial intentions, when they fired Tyrone Willingham, an African-American, despite Willingham's lack of success at the demanding football school. The new coach, Charlie Weis, quickly turned the team back into a national power in one season, while Willingham, hired in Seattle by the University of Washington, sputtered to a 2-9 record in 2005.

In the past three years, the number of black coaches in the NFL has jumped from three to seven, while only new hires Lovie Smith (Chicago) and Marvin Lewis (Cincinnati) have seen immediate success. Yet, when a sports writer, talk show host, or ordinary fan questions why more and more teams (this year, the Oakland Raiders re-hired Art Shell, the first black coach in history, who hasn't coached in 15 years) are hiring under-qualified black coaches, s/he is quickly deemed a "racist."

Yet there are still complaints about the "paucity" of black coaches in sports. And while some feel the need to play percentage games, thankfully, others like renowned ESPN's Kansas City-based sportswriter, Jason Whitlock, an African-American, have suggestions, and also have put matters into perspective. He described Cochran's efforts as "misguided, outdated and totally ignore the fact that black people, just like every other ethnic group in this country, control their own destiny."

As far back as 1999, radical campuses like City College of San Francisco were already balkanizing racial matters and demanding action and apologies.

The racial demagogues have targeted college basketball, as well. Most recently, and most noteworthy, when the NCAA basketball tournament brackets were announced, many black coaches, administrators, and media members, said schools from predominantly black conferences were playing a disproportionate amount of the NCAA's Opening Round. This was allegedly the case last Tuesday night in Dayton, when Hampton (black school) took on Monmouth (a mostly white school). These factions began accusing the NCAA of "conference profiling," trying to essentially "rip off" black schools from the publicity and financial gains of the NCAA Tournament.

The furor is unsubstantiated. A cursory visit to the history of the "play-in game" shows that no more than half of the schools in such a position could be classified as "black colleges." And, more importantly, a look at their records shows why these schools were the last ones invited into the post-season tournament; that's why they keep standings throughout each season.

This past week, just prior to the Tuesday's game, Mike Tirico, an African-American who works for ABC/ESPN, accurately explained that the clamoring was nonsense. Citing first the records of the teams, and also the way the match-ups are determined, he stated it was all in the numbers. Tirico also noted that the teams in the Opening Round Game enjoy all the benefits and luxuries of tournament life, even if for only that one game. If you watch the game, played in hoops crazy Dayton, on national TV, this is extremely evident. The name was even changed from "play-in game," so as to augment the appeal of the game, which seems to elicit more intensity than most first round matchups on Thursday and Friday.

However, for pointing out the truth and not placating the Jackson/Sharpton Lobby's "cause," the esteemed Mr. Tirico will surely be called an "Uncle Tom." And anyone like me and 90% of the country, who agrees with him will be called a "racist." The true racial-dividers regularly make silly, racist, spurious claims like these.

Lastly, the general consensus on the game has been positive. Wikipedia.org notes:

Although analysts’ initial reactions to the concept were skeptical, the first game, played on March 13, 2001, was a success, and few complaints have been heard since. One reason for these positive comments is the fact that the game is played on a Tuesday night, during which no other games are played (the first round of the tournament starts the following Thursday). Thus, the play-in game assumes a greater prominence than most first-round games, both to the viewing public and to scouts.

ESPN college basketball guru Andy Katz found potential in the game from its inception in 2001, stating, "There were 6,800 fans in the arena, the majority non-partisan, and they didn't seem to mind that these weren't nationally recognizable names. The crowd was into it, and the game actually had more pulse than a 16-vs-1 game at noon Thursday."

Now more than five years later, Katz could certainly not have conceived of a racial objection when he opined, "There was merit to this first opening-round game. It can be better, but it wasn't bad. Two teams feel like they've accomplished something, even if one is going home before most people fill out their brackets. We were wrong. This wasn't a bad idea."

No, it wasn't then, and it still isn't. Much less a racist one. The professional balkanizers will stop at nothing to justify their existence in post-racist America.

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