Sports can break your heart and/or your neck. About the time schools consolidated, a football tackling technique called “spearing” became popular. And it was lethal. During this “evolving” time several kids were killed or paralyzed. Spearing was often the villain. Any young football coach should read O. Charles Olsen’s small book called “The Prevention of Football Injuries.” Olsen’s theory is centered on E = 1⁄2 mv2 or Energy = one half mass times velocity squared. Or, the players are faster, stronger, and the hitting is harder.
When schools integrated the smaller kids were eliminated from football. Bigger kids, many African American, weight training programs, and steroids in some instances, produced some dangerous hits.
Much has been written about the “Black athlete.” There is no question in my mind about the talent level of these athletes.
Coming from the South and being a minister’s son there was little question, early on about God. Certainly, in my mind, he was male, white, and looked a whole lot like Santa Claus. Surely too, he was lovable, kind, and simply good “supreme being.”
After watching sports in America the last forty years my guess about God’s nature is more Machiavellian. After watching America make a religion out of sports, while at the same time mistreating the black population so badly, I picture God’s role differently. My guess we’ve put so much emphasis on sport he’s peeved. Think not? Watch where parents are at 11:00 am on Sunday’s if their child is in a soccer match. Hmm? Did God say “I’ll give these fanatics a dilemma!” He then put this glorious athletic talent in many of the Black population, and now he’s “up there” giggling at what America is doing with sports.
Please don’t get me wrong. The Black athletes have paid their dues in practice, injury, and sweat just like anyone. Probably more so.
Integration caused a lot of headaches in the alignment of conferences, etc. Who plays and who you play, is important, and alignment turned things upside down.
I do believe Proposition 48 (the academic guidelines for collegiate eligibility) yielded a lot of good. I wonder about the S.A.T. and fairness, but it is a “hard” number.
My guess is the best barometer for academic success is the athletes’ class rank. With exceptions, most of those who could achieve class rank had enough ability to succeed.
Some can’t spell S.A.T. Some people are aberrant bastards who have no business in higher education. It always irked me to know that the beauty, education, and joy of collegiate sports was often wasted on an “athlete” who had no intention of benefiting from the true value of Sports in Education.

***I wrote the above in 2007 (“Play is where Life is”).

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