The Barack Brushback in Sports

By Tony Price
Updated: February 3, 2009

BOSTON – Well it’s been a couple of weeks since the inauguration of the nation’s first African-American president and there are blatant signs of rebellious behavior by those who opposed his presidency.

I’m referencing the unashamed disrespect in something as simple as addressing Barack Obama with the proper respect due. A few prominent media personalities refuse to call him “President Obama” instead they Mr. Obama, your president, or simply Barack while some supporters call him Brother Obama, as if they have a personal relationship with him.

If this man can’t get people to acknowledge him with the proper title of “President Obama” what does that say?

President Obama represents the rise of the black male, he counteracts all of the negative stereotypes, he’s educated, charismatic, calm, a dedicated and responsible father and a faithful committed husband imagine that a black man who has just one woman and actually knows his children.

He does not reflect the saggy pant wearing, lazy, player, drug dealing, baby making, thug life imagery that has been associated with black men, in fact he too has called out the brothers to get involved in the community and their families.

With all of these great qualities why the post “The Barack Brush back”?

Now before you call me a conspiracy theorist, read on. My thought is that as a result of President Obama’s election, there may be less tolerance of black male leadership in high places or positions of power; it’s already started within the sports industry.

The recent trend of firing black coaches such as Dennis Felton, Sam Mitchell, Herm Edwards, Ron Prince, and Tyrone Willingham (again) and others illustrate the point, many of them were let go before season’s end.

Now I am not advocating for these men to be given preferential treatment or not be held accountable for multiple subpar seasons, after all pro and major college sports are about the bottom line.

However if their white counterparts were held to the same standard, there would be no one left standing. I think this is just the beginning, and it will be open season for criticism from those narrow minded individuals who create those “Fire the coach” sites.

They will point to the recent election of the nation’s first African-American president as evidence their rants and raves are not racially motivated, akin to the old saying “some of my best friends are black”.

The election of President Obama could have a polarizing effect, some Athletic Directors, General Managers and Owners will seek the next superstar amongst the pool of African-American candidates, someone who can do what Barack did and generate excitement, cross racial lines, and increase the bottom line, while others will not go beyond a token interview if that and may carry the attitude “We have a black president, isn’t that enough what more do these people want.”

They may feel it’s their duty and obligation to retain opportunities for the white race; someone has to preserve the “Old boy network”. For the lucky few black coaches that land jobs, they must realize going in that the expectations and time given to turn a team’s fortunes around may be unrealistic, just like the expectations placed on President Obama’s shoulders to turn this country around in four years.

In my heart I hope the election of President Obama will signal an acceptance and increased awareness of what people of color like Doc Rivers, Tony Dungy and Mike Tomlin who are prepared and supported can do.

I can’t believe Dan Patrick asked Tomlin if he felt over his head on national TV after winning the super bowl, they didn’t ask Gruden the same question when he was the youngest coach to win the super bowl with Tampa Bay, but my head says watch out for a hidden agenda that has already been set in motion.

Only time will tell.