Second of two parts
The following numbers aren’t winning lottery numbers: 14, 2, 7, 1. They represent, in order, the college football head coaching openings, the number of Blacks hired to fill them, the number of NFL head coaching vacancies and the number of Blacks hired to fill them.
If this isn’t an unbalanced scale — the annual merry-go-round of firing and hiring, with Blacks as regulars on this ride to nowhere, while Whites get the limousine treatment to head coaching jobs — then it doesn’t snow in Minneapolis in the wintertime.
Sports agent Donald Yee wrote last month in the Washington Post three remedies for the chronic condition of not hiring Black coaches: 1) media, 2) Black coaches, and 3) Black players. This columnist years ago made a similar suggestion.
First of all, media: Expecting the mainstream media to push change, unless it benefits them, simply won’t happen. Integration in baseball was first championed by the Black Press over a decade before mainstream media remotely took interest. The majority-White media only feign interest in the poor record of hiring of Black coaches.
Yee notes that unless nightly sports shows “agitate every night” on the subject as they do on other mundane ones, then no, change isn’t forthcoming.
Secondly, Black coaches: Why won’t Black coaches speak out on this? If they did, as Yee points out and we concur, these coaches almost instantly become “angry Black men” and self-inflict career suicide in the process.
The now-dormant Black Coaches Association once did this but eventually proved all bark and no bite. But there’s one fact that can’t be ignored: Nearly all the persons who do the hiring, whether college or pro, are White.
“There are many, many talented and gifted Black football coaches who are watching their careers pass with no consideration as a head coach,” stated Yee.
The MSR talked to a Black coach, who spoke on the condition that we won’t publish his name or the sport he is currently coaching. Let’s call him “Coach Rob,” as in what too often happens to qualified Black coaching candidates. “We need an opportunity,” the coach pleads.
Thirdly, Black players: Why don’t Black players stop playing until change occurs? When Blacks stopped riding segregated city buses, Montgomery city officials, after a year of losing money, did change. When the Black football players at Missouri threatened last fall to stop playing, change occurred when two top school officials resigned.
If these Black players finally realize just how powerful they are, not in brawn but in sheer numbers, and demand that they play only if more Blacks are hired as head coaches, they could elicit change. Even better, as we have often suggested, if more highly recruited Black players take their highly recruited talent from big-time schools to HBCUs, where Black head coaches are the majority, change certainly would occur as a result.
The burning question, however, is how many Black young men would buy into this as opposed to continuing their culturally conditioned ways, falsely believing that a White school is better than a Black one to ascend to the NFL. The best doesn’t necessarily have to be White, and being last shouldn’t have to be Black, either.
Finally, get rid of the NFL’s Rooney Rule, which mandates that a club must interview at least one Black candidate for a coaching vacancy. Clearly it hasn’t increased the number of Black head coaches but rather the number of frustrated Black assistants. Forget about second chances; Black coaches are looking for that first chance.
“When are we going to get that shot?” asks Rob. “We deserve it.”
Charles Hallman welcomes reader responses to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Charles Hallman is a contributing reporter and award-winning sports columnist at the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder.