Friday, October 28, 2005

Air Force Football Team Too Euro?

This is my Casablanca moment. I’m shocked, SHOCKED, to find out that Euro-American football players run slower than the Afro-American variety. This from no less an authority than Fisher DeBerry, Head Football Coach of the Air Force Academy who said “It's very obvious to me the other day that the other team had a lot more Afro-American players than we did, and they ran a lot faster than we did. 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, but it's very obvious to me they run extremely well.” DeBerry was explaining a blowout loss to Texas Christian University.

Shock Number One: Afro-American? I haven’t heard that term since, what, the SIXTIES? The Kennedys were alive then; the smart ones. Personally, I haven’t been an Afro-American since I was a teenager. (Don’t try to do the math.). In the 1970s I became “Black.” The generation behind me became African-American. Twenty-somethings now claim to be members of the Hip-Hop culture. Hip-Hop transcends racial categories, so it doesn’t really count. When government surveys ask you to identify your group, the choices are Black or African-American. Who outside Colorado Springs says Afro?

Shock Number Two: DeBerry implies he is having a bad year, and he is, because he has too many Euro-Americans on his roster. While he says Euros can run, or rather says he “doesn’t mean they can’t run,” Afros just run faster. What if the NFL felt that way? Then there would be no Euro-American backs on offense or defense. Oh, wait.

No, that’s not right. Drew Bennett is a fine back, the finest Euro-American back since Frank Gifford. But, Gifford played in the days before Afro-Americans called themselves Afro-Americans, before Rosa Parks (Bless her soul) got on the bus. That's when they really did have to run faster than Euro-Americans.

I don’t know many Americans, Afro or Euro, who would disagree with DeBerry’s basic premise, based on NFL rosters. Protest from African-Americans has been muted. DeBerry apologized for the comment and was reprimanded by the Air Force Academy.

Shock Number Three: DeBerry is the coach. Who was it that recruited all those slow players. Why doesn’t he recruit more "team speed," if you get my drift? He’ll have to drop that archaic Afro-American term to recruit Hip-Hopers. Better yet, drop that factor altogether. Instead, focus on talent. I suspect there are lots of speedy prep school athletes of Euro, Afro, Samoan, Asian or Spanish descent who could be interested in the Air Force Academy. I haven’t bothered to count, but there might be more "team speed" at Navy and Army. The Military academy does not show photographs of its players, so their descent cannot be easily determined. I guess they want to evaluate players based on play on the field. You know, one team, band of brothers, hang together, and other values we all want to see in United States Military leadership. The Air Force Academy is noted for its divisions: male versus female; Saved versus Pagan; who can run faster. Is there enough "team speed" in the whole Air Force? Run faster, coach, to recruit some players.

I’ve had fun with this one. DeBerry’s comment was so inviting. He’s probably an alright guy for someone of Euro-American in a time warp who slipped into the wild blue yonder with an ill considered comment.

Air Force lost to Navy on October 8. Army visits the Air Force Academy on November 5. That will be a game worth watching.

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