Black History Month Time To Make New History

Updated: November 16, 2007




Back in 1961

Author Jack Olsen

wrote a Classic Study

of the State of the Black Athlete

which led to a Legendary

Sports Illustrated issue

and another 23 years


Back in 1961 Olsen chronicled the shocking Treatment of African American athletes even as Black athletes became the defining element in American sports. Exploitation was the “reward” African Americans were receiving for championship performances in sport after sport

keeping White America


How much has Changed ?

First let’s go back to the Civil War for another lesson from Black History. After the Union ended Enslavement, and even prior as Blacks fled from a collapsing South, African Americans played a pivotal part in the North winning the War.

The case can be forcefully made

without Blacks

on the Battle line and supporting it

the South would have forced the North

to sue for Peace rather than

Fight without End.

But once the War was over African Americans were forced to fight the War Again but without Northern Troops at their side as the White South reasserted itself with a vengeance against “free” African Americans.

Less violent parallels can be drawn in describing the state of African Americans in Sports once Black athletes finally were allowed to begin asserting themselves in sport after sport beginning in the 1950s and accelerating after that.

White America cheered the exploits of Black Athletes

While reasserted with a Vengeance the lack of Opportunity for Black Americans in many sports and throughout the American Sports Empire in issues of ownership, management and non-player roles.

In those all important aspects of the American Sports Industry matters are more similar than different from the Bad Old Days of 1961. While there have been some improvements just as there were after the Civil War, more to the point White Supremacy reasserted itself in many ways.

Our story yesterday makes that Point as well as any.

With 9 new Head Coaching positions in the NFL 8 White Guys were hired without any African American seriously considered by any of those 8 NFL teams before the last team on the List Oakland finally hired a Black Head Coach after lots of Whites turned it down. And it took one of the most experienced and successful African Americans of all time in Coaching to land that Job.

How much different is that than 1961

Only that no African American would have been hired.

Here is Another One

Right now we are in the middle of the Winter Olympics in Torino, Italy. There are 5 African Americans on Team USA out of 211 American athletes. A trivial number less than 3%. The difference to 1960 is that absolutely no African Americans were on the Winter Olympics USA Team.

How about Baseball

Back in 1961 there were 2 African American Umpires in Major League Baseball. Today there are 2 African American Umpires in Major League Baseball. And there never have been more than 2. Back in 1961 there were NO African American owners in Major League Baseball. Today there are NO African American owners in Major League Baseball and there never has been .

Back in 1961

There was NO African American Commissioner in Major League Baseball. National Football League or National Basketball Association. Today there is NO Black Commissioner in Major League Baseball, National Football League and National Basketball Association, and there never has been.

The list goes on and on with

numbing consistency

throughout Sports.

A Ray of Hope

Back in 1961 there was NO African American Sports Media

Today there is

Black Athlete Sports Network

BASN is making Black history

not only reporting It.

SI 23 YEARS APART 1961 & 1984