Black, white and read all over

Santo Caruso

DeBerry’s comments aren’t that offensive

“It just seems to be that way, that Afro-American kids can run very, very well. That doesn’t mean Caucasian kids and other descents can’t run, but it’s very obvious to me they run extremely well…we were looking at things, like you don’t see many minority athletes in our program,”- Fisher DeBerry, Air Force Head Football Coach.

There, not so bad? Like tearing off a Band-Aid, you read it, you think about it, you move on. Obviously these 50 words have raised quite a bit of controversy, but is it deserved?

In the NFL no position is defined more by speed than cornerback. Any other spot on the field a player can get by on intelligence, strength and experience, but cornerbacks are on an island. So if you’re 40 is over 4.3, you need not apply. There are exactly zero starting white cornerbacks in the NFL.

The last Caucasian player to be acknowledged for his speed was Tim Dwight, and Sports Illustrated put him on the cover when he was drafted. This for a player who has amounted to little more than a punt returner. Rush Limbaugh missed the mark, the media isn’t trying to promote black quarterbacks; they want a fast white guy to make it even more.

DeBerry’s comments are not unfounded then. The NBA, NFL and most speed based Olympic sports are all dominated by African-Americans, a minority group that only makes up 12 percent of society. I’ve heard arguments that range from an extra fast-twitch muscle found in African-Americans’ calves (this sounds suspiciously close to phrenology though) to their athleticism being based on the African tribe they descended from (with Michael Jordan being of a specific group known for their abilities). It has even been attributed to the sociology of minorities, coming from poorer neighborhoods where sports can be seen as the only option to escape poverty.

The reason does not really matter, only that the disparity in professional sports is evident and DeBerry merely pointed it out. As Communications majors often learn, its not merely the message, it is the medium. DeBerry unfortunately made the minority athletes out to be hired guns, only getting into college because they were fast. The coach cast a shadow on the accomplishments of all black athletes who are more than just speed demons. He also raised another issue in my mind: What if it had been a black coach saying “We need more white athletes because they are smart, and it is quite clear their intelligence is the difference between our team and a good team.” Would there be the same kind of up in arms reaction? And why are both of those statements considered racist against black players. Shouldn’t the opposite statements be offensive to the opposite groups. DeBerry’s statement should have sparked a reaction from white players, but instead has inflamed a mostly white media into defending some of his words.

Society has recently taken an anti-white swing, not in the sense of going against Caucasians, but becoming super sensitive in regards to minorities. In the scenario I presented earlier, the black coach would have been stereotyping, but DeBerry is just stating the obvious. There is no real proof that white players are smarter, but it has been a long time slight on black quarterbacks, that they can’t read defenses or understand complex offenses. This is not true, but if any official said such a thing he would be run out of town

The world is already moving on from DeBerry’s comment, it can’t even be found on the backpage of sports sections anymore. Every columnist had his say and another black mark on the NCAA will be recorded. But the one group DeBerry truly alienated still lives with his remarks. The 53 players on the Air Force Falcons still have to look in the mirror and realize they just weren’t black enough for their coach.