When Will It Ever Change?

By L.A. Batchelor
Updated: February 9, 2008

Tyrone Willingham

Tyrone Willingham

NORTH CAROLINA — February is here and that means it’s Black History Month. It’s a time to reflect back and pay homage to those African Americans and others who shaped the past of the plight of Blacks in this country and around the world.

Their contributions to the present and future of Blacks are around everywhere. Although we could be on the brink of history with Senator Barack Obama and his quest for the Democratic Nomination, we as Black people still lack in many areas when it comes to jobs and you can look no further than college and pro football.

Both the NCAA and the NFL continue to practice exclusion in the “good ole boy” club despite attempts to implement and enforce various rules and programs on colleges and teams in the NFL.

Currently, the NCAA has only six African American Head Football Coaches in Division 1-A football and the NFL has only six. A far cry from college basketball and the NBA which has over 100 combined respectively.

As long as we are looking at leagues with poor hiring practices, we cannot forget the worse of them all, MLB which currently only has three. To add insult to injury, you had two assistant coaches who turned down jobs to stay with there teams and still no qualified and experienced African Americans were considered for the coaching vacancies in each city.

Jason Garrett, Offensive Coordinator for the Dallas Cowboys decided not to leave the team after he was considered a candidate for the head coaching position in Atlanta.

The job that was eventually given to Mike Smith, an assistant with Jacksonville with some experience, but not as much as long time assistant coach and now Hall of Famer Emmitt Thomas who was the interim coach the last few games of the season for the Falcons.

Thomas is well liked and respected by his peers and the players yet he continues to be the “Best Man” and never “The Groom”.

The Washington Redskins have just named new offensive coordinator Jim Zorn after Giants Defensive Coordinator Steve Spagnuolo decided to stay with the team and become the highest paid Defensive Coordinator in the NFL.

Spagnuolo decides he isn’t interested in the Redskins position and who emerged as the front runner for the position before Zorn was hired? Another retread, Jim Fassel.

In 2004, the NFL diversity committee enacted the “Rooney Rule”, named for its chairman, Dan Rooney, owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Rooney Rule required each team to interview at least one minority candidate when filling a head coach position or be fined.

The committee did not adopt the proposed Fair Competition Resolution. Like most rule or law in sports and in the land of everyday politics, a rule or law can be on the books but there is always someone looking to circumvent the rule or law for there own personal and evil reasons.

Such is the case for the “Rooney Rule”

So for every Tony Dungy, Lovie Smith and Romeo Crenell and Mike Tomlin who were giving an opportunity to be a head coach, there are still the Mike Singletary, Maurice Carthon and Emmitt Thomas of the coaching world who will not.

For every Randy Shannon, Ty Willingham and Ron Prince who have the opportunity to be a head coach in Division I College football, there are the Tyrone Nix, Charlie Strong and others who are still being denied.

When is this disturbing trend going to change? When enough of us are so angry and outraged that we take our frustrations and disgust out on a sports society that condones this blatant racial practice.

When we push the masses so hard, they are force to re-examine there exclusional practice. When we protest these sports plantations by keeping our money in our pockets and not attending games to deplete the owners bank accounts.

When we realize change starts with us and the change with us begins with our mentality. The belief that we are not only as intelligent, talented, gifted, hard working and dedicated as our white counterparts and the belief that we must continue to bring awareness to a disease that spreads across sports and across America and will be the distruction of all us as a people.

We’ve already proven our ability, now it’s time to show our solidarity.

The struggle continues.