2 Black Coaches in the Superbowl!!!

Yesterday, two Black coaches made professional football history. Lovie Smith, of the Chicago Bears, led his team to alovie 39-14 point victory over the New Orleans Saints. Hours later, Tony Dungy led his Indianapolis Colts to the dungyAFC title in a 38-34 victory over the New England Patriots. Finally, after 4 decades, one of the most watched sporting events of all time will feature it’s first Black coachs ever, as Smith and Dunge etch their names into Superbowl history. It is important that we do not downplay the significance of this great, overdue feat. Even those of us who are not football fans must acknowledge the social and cultural significance of the Superbowl – it is an integral part of American popular culture. Superbowl Sunday is pretty much a de facto American holiday, the second largest food consumption day of the year in the US, next to Thanksgiving.

But let’s look at professional football critically, quick fast. Black players are a majority in the NFL, and they dominate the sport, yet the league has very few Black coaches and (count em) NO Black owners, (save Reggie Fowler, partial owner of the *wack* Vikings). Sound like any other systems you’ve heard of? Author William C. Rhoden Crow argues that athletes are no more than well paid slaves (in his book, 40 Million Dollar Slaves: The Rise, Fall, and Redemption of the Black Athlete). Honestly, I can see where Crow is coming from. Black players work the “field,” often sacrificing their bodies for an exclusive and wealthy white constituency. If they do not perform up to expected standards, they can be traded or sold (let us not forget, up until Tony Dungy won the AFC title, his job, too, was in jeopardy-regardless of his incredible record). Athletes even do dances in the end zone for their overwhelmingly white season ticket holders and fans. Sounds like a plantation to me.

But I do not wish to take away from the historical significance of this event. I am extremely proud of accomplishments of Dungy and Smith and I will be watching next Sunday with a smile on my face, because either way a Black coach walks away with a national championship. Either way, millions of children all around the world will see Black men at the forefront of one of the nation’s most beloved sporting events, leading men of all colors and complexions into rigorous competition. We need this. We need to see more Black men and women in leadership roles, and we should celebrate this aspect, if nothing else. But let us also be aware of the context of this victory. It has taken us 41 years to get a coach to the Superbowl – and while it’s a beautiful thing – we still don’t own anything for ourselves. Babysteps, I suppose.

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Published on January 23, 2007 at 1:49 am. 5 Comments.
Filed under positivity,sports,television.