In Their Assessment Of Two Different Issues That Are Loosely Related?

By Gregory Moore
Updated: October 26, 2005

SAN ANTONIO, TX.— – What does baseball hall of famer Joe Morgan and Air Force Academy football coach Fisher DeBerry have in common this week? Two things. First, they are both worried about the lack of African American athletes either on the service academy’s football team or on the Houston Astros baseball team. Secondly, they both have put both their feet in their respective mouths by making what many can deem as racist statements. Just what is the big deal about these two individuals and their statements? The big deal is that you would think that intelligent men of any color in the world of sports would not have to resort to such characterizations.

Look at what DeBerry said and you be the judge as to whether his statements warrant some type of response or apology from him and/or his employer.

“We are looking at things, like you don’t see many minority athletes in our program.” The statement in itself raises some serious eyebrows and it should because on the surface what DeBerry is describing is something that I, along with many others, have said about the lack of African Americans going to college and competing at the Division 1 level. On the surface this is something that can be taken seriously and wouldn’t raise the racial insensitivity flag. Yet look at the next statement that was found in the same Associated Press article.

“It just seems to be that way, that Afro-American kids can run very, very well. That doesn’t mean that Caucasian kids and other descents can’t run, bit it’s very obvious to me they run extremely well.” DeBerry made those comments to a Denver, CO. news station. The academy is aware of the statements and said they could/would not comment further until they have had a chance to do an investigation. That may be fine for them but DeBerry’s statements are now under the racial microscope because he has singled out one ethnicity and compared it loosely to others.

Insensitive remarks just don’t come from a Caucasian coach. It seems that Morgan is frustrated by his old team’s lack of offensive power and he equated that deficiency to the lack of African American ball players playing for the Astros. Here is what Morgan said after it was brought to his attention that not a single African American player was on the roster.

“Of course I noticed it. How could you not? But they’re [Houston] not the only ones. There are two or three teams that didn’t have any African-American players this year.” Maybe not as belligerent as DeBerry’s, Morgan’s statements still ring loud and clear that he allowed race to play a vital part in his assessment. The reason why DeBerry’s statements may sound just a little more ‘racial’ in tone is because it wasn’t long ago that Jimmy the Greek made a similar type of remark and it cost his job at CBS. One of the best play-by-play announcers, Howard Cosell also made what is now considered very insensitive statements in his career. So why does DeBerry’s and Morgan’s comments rankle so many in the sports world now? Because they didn’t have to be made to make their points on the issues at hand.

So what is the issue at hand in these cases? Quite simply the facts are two fold and actually interlace with each other. At the bottom of the problem lies the fact that African American athletes are not plentiful in certain sports or at certain programs on the college level. What DeBerry is describing is a systematic lack of African Americans who are actually applying to the service academies and/or being accepted. That goes beyond the fact that his Falcons got their rumps spanked by TCU. That is the pimple that myself and so many others on this website have been trying to bust for as long as has been in existence. Morgan’s comments, while definitely eyebrow raising, have been echoed on this site for years as well. Maybe the reason why his words have now been raised from the printed pages is because baseball does have an issue of diversity both on the field and in the front office. But this common issue is a topic for another day and another story with a byline.

Right now what these two sports figures have done was create a buzz about insensitive comments in a politically correct atmosphere. While neither DeBerry nor Morgan can be considered racist individuals, one has to really ponder why race had to come into play in the first place. Or better yet why did these two have to state the already obvious observations that we have known for far too long.