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Black History Month 2012 PT 1
Gary Norris Gray BASN Staff ReporterOAKLAND, CA.(BASN)—February provides us with another opportunity to celebrate African American Heritage. Indeed it is an honor to reflect on African Americans and focus on their superlative strong sports achievements.
Baseball, basketball, football and now hockey have contributed to the creation of Black icons in America. There is evidence of African Americans moving up in the sports world. African American names became known in households throughout this land with records were broken.
In football, O. J. Simpson (Buffalo Bills) became the first African American to rush for over 2000 yards in one season. Marlon Briscoe (Denver Broncos) was the first modern day African American quarterback. Doug Williams (The Washington Football Club) was the first African American quarterback to guide his team to a Super Bowl victory.
In 2011-2012 Cam Newton (Carolina Panthers) became rookie of the year with 15 rushing touchdowns and 17 passing touchdowns having complete command of his team breaking all rookie records.
The Black quarterback issue raises its ugly head again with only five starters and seven reserves on the bench. That is a total of 13 Black quarterbacks in the NFL. Most teams carry three quarterbacks, the numbers don’t add up. These men could lead their respective teams if they ever get a chance to play on the field.
Head Coach Ray Rhodes became the first African American to lead two different teams to the playoffs (Green Bay Packers and Philadelphia Eagles). Tony Dungy (Indianapolis Colts) became the first Black head coach to lead his team to a Super Bowl Championship.
The African American head coaching picture took a hit this year losing four. That is half of the total of Black head coaches hired. The question should be asked why African Americans only get one chance to prove their coaching skills while other head coaches move on to other teams?
African American coaches have also graced the basketball floor at the NCAA’s Elite Eight finals with John Thompson of Georgetown being the first Black coach to win the NCAA Championship trophy.
Player Coach Bill Russell and Head Coach K. C Jones led the Boston Celtics to many National Basketball Association titles. Russell and Jones were the first two African Americans to accomplish this fete. Basketball’s door has been open for African Americans on the floor and in the coaching box since the late 1960′s early 1970′s.
Guard Kobe Bryant (Los Angeles. Lakers) scored 81 points last year in an exquisite performance on the floor. This historic event brought back the memories of Wilt Chamberlain’s (Philadelphia Sixers) 100-point assault against the hapless New York Knicks. That NBA basketball record still stands the test of time.
There is a new basketball juggernaut in Miami. LaBron James, Cris Bosh, and Dwayne Wade could bring a championship to South Beach, Florida. It would be the first player arranged championship when they win.
In baseball, Ceto Gaston led the Toronto Blue Jays to a World Championship back to back in the 80′s. Major League Baseball is still “a work in progress”. We are witnessing the advances of African American players, coaches, and ownership.
Ron Washington (Texas Rangers) repeated the fete of Gaston guided his team to the World Series back to back, just could not win.
Dusty Baker (Cincy. Reds) moved each team into the playoffs and showed them that practice and discipline improves any team. Baker has proven this over and over again. In San Francisco, The Giants went to the playoffs. In Chicago, the Cubs went to the playoffs after many years of mediocre play. If it were not for Steve Bartmen antics in the stands the Cubs would have been in the World Series.
In 2012 there are still only two Black head coaches and major decline in black player participation with only 08% on the diamond. MLB needs to address this issue after a drastic 32% drop in African American players since 1973. In 2012 Prince Fielder (Det. Tigers) will become the highest paid African American baseball player. MLB needs to reach out to the inner city to introduce young men to this fantastic game.
Ms. Vonetta Flowers, a very strong young African American woman from Helena, Alabama. She was the first Black American athlete to win gold at any Winter Olympic Games. Her team won in the two-man bobsled event; and she won on the number two-bobsled team. Everyone thought that this team would never get a chance to even qualify. Not only did this overachieving bobsled team qualify but they almost broke the Olympic bobsled record.
Three sports; golf, tennis, and hockey were dominated by white players but are now being radically changed because people of color are participating.
Before the age of 40, Tiger Woods had won over forty tourneys in golf, a fete only accomplished by Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicholas. Tiger Woods won his third Masters in Augusta, Georgia, making him the fastest player to ever win three Masters at his age. Mr. Woods has changed the way golf is played. Many other golf professionals are now taking the game seriously and practicing hitting longer drives from the fairway.
Currently there are more Asian and Black children participating in the sport at school. Tiger Woods opened the door to a sport that was obviously closed to Asian-Americans and African-Americans. Country clubs had to integrate their segregated clubhouses. Some of these clubhouses went to court to keep minorities excluded from the game. It did not work!!
Mr. Woods kept blowing clubhouse doors open with win after win. There was a slight setback a few years ago when Tiger won only two tournaments after his famous car crash in 2009.
Â©Copyrighted Gary Norris Gray @ Gray Leopard Prod