Race + Football

Last night, I was talking to Ms. Naylor on the phone and asked her if she could look up the final score of the Colts/Pats game for me. I'd watched the first three quarters, but had to head home for bed before it finished. I was quite happy this morning to awake to radio reports and a voicemail with the news that the Colts had rallied for the win in the second half.

Once they get past the whole pacifist female football-fan dissonance, people seem surprised that I regularly root against the Pats given my current geography. But as they defeated both my Panthers and my Eagles in Superbowls the first two years I lived here, I'm a loathe to switch allegiances. Last night I was rooting for the Colts. Not just because I wanted them to end their losing streak against the Pats in playoffs games, or because I thought it would be awesome for Vinetari to help defeat the Pats after they let him go last season. Part of the reason I was rooting for the Colts in this game was that if they won, Coach Dungy would be the second African-American head coach to take a team to the Superbowl. The first was Lovie Smith of the Chicago Bears, who preceded him in that honor by only a few hours.

While professional football has been open to African Americans for many years now, the "intelligent" positions of quarterback and coach have continued to be held mostly by whites. There has been some press about the prejudices that remain about the comparative mental/physical abilities of whites and blacks, in particular the Rush Limbaugh/Donovan McNabb controversy back in 2003. While professional football is simply a frivolous entertainment, arguably neither beautiful nor worthwhile, it is pleasant to celebrate the "firsts" wherever they are happening and dream of a day when we have no more of these "firsts" to celebrate because they are all distant memories of the steps towards a just and equitable society.

Elizabeth Bathurst

1 comment:

jez said...

Yay for Quakers with a passion for sport!

I am a big football lover, but of what you would call soccer.

In England race is rarely an issue any more, thanks to real efforts by the fans, players, clubs and authorities to, as they say, kick racism out of football.

Because our football is such an international game we have many many players from around the world playing professionally in England.

In the match I went to on Saturday afternoon, one team had two Irishmen, a Scot and eight English players and the other had three English, a Czech, a South Korean, a Cote d'Ivorian, a Canadian, an Irishman, two Egyptians and a Portuguese player.

So far, there have been few managers who aren't white at the top level, though. There are a couple and things will slowly change...