The guy on the left is President-elect Barack Obama. The guy on the right is Turner Gill, head football coach at the University of Buffalo.
Pop quiz: Which of these two guys had a harder time getting the job they got?
I’ve seena lot writtenabout howwe’ve overcome some great barrier in electing our first black president. We’ve viewed thislike the four-minute mile or likehome run 756: something that was unlikely to fall has now fallen and we’re all witnesses to history.
However, in the wake of this achievement, Richard Lapchick and his folks at theInstitute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport were compilinga list of shame. In the world of college athletics, more than 50 percent of the athletes are minorities. That number climbs even higher in sports like football, which see much higher proportions of black players. In the top-tier (Division I, Football Bowl Subdivision or whatever you want to call it) take a guess how many of these teams are coached by black guys?
Four. Out of 119. Or about 3.36 percent.
(That number becomes a whopping six if you include all minorities. Special shout out toNavy’s Ken Niumatalolo as our only Samoan head coach in the FBS.)
If you do the math on our presidents (factoring in thatuntil the 15th Amendment passed in 1870, blacks couldn’t even vote, let alone run the country), we’ve had one black president out of 26 or 3.8 percent. (To hold Jude and his math love in check, I’m not going to claim statistical significance here. Let’s just say both numbers really suck and agree that 3.36 is smaller than 3.8 for the moment. ☺ )
This isn’t to underplay the accomplishments of the man I believe will be the Kennedy of my time: a voice of truth and greatness who inspires me to believe in my country once again. It is, however, a clear indication that there are still folks out there withthe mindset of Al Campanis, who once noted he believed blacks weren’t smart enough to do that high-level stuff, like running a sports team. (And from the “Apparently our marketing isn’t getting any smarter department, we’ve got this…) In looking atthe suit attempting to bankrupt the KKK, I found myself shaking my head. Forcing them to go belly up financially isn’t going to make these guys change their mind about race. (“What? We’re broke? Crap… OK, guess I’ll start liking the coloreds now…”)
This isn’t about Affirmative Action. This isn’t a call to “just go hire one,” as I once heard in a meeting involving the need to diversify a work place. This is about an imbalance that seems beyond absurd.
Approximately 12 percent of offensive and defensive coordinators are black and almost 31 percent of assistant coaches are black. Each year, we put out another trove of black athletes, who have learned complex offenses and defenses, worked under skilled coaches and can impart knowledge to the next generation as former students of the game. You can’t tell me that there aren’t enough folks out there to create an adequate pool in which we do better than 3.36 percent.
Last year, 30 black candidates were interviewed for 22 openings.
Only two were hired.
In my book, this is another clear indication we haven’t overcome anything yet.