While Americans celebrated the crowning of the Colts as the 41-annual NFL champions, Americans also celebrated the milestone of having not one but two African American head coaches on the sidelines.
The day before the big game, I was just riding around town listening to a local radio station and heard callers saying things like, “both coaches are sell-outs” or “neither of them should be there.” Not to remind everyone that it is Black History Month. I found it rude how people could be disconcerned, especially people who share the same ethnic background. Of course all of the comments were not negative; just those two had a strong impact on me, why because we always tend to see the negative light past the positive. Do we whine about the 28 days in February or do we take advantage and celebrate Black heritage? Yes, you still had millions of callers saying things like “I don’t care who wins, I know someone Black is going to win the Superbowl.” After being flabbergasted listening to the other two callers, I started to focus on the positive and appreciate the history that occurred right in front of my face Superbowl Sunday.
Lovie Smith became the first black head coach to ever claim the NFC championship title after defeating the Saints, in an upset victory. A few hours later, Tony Dungy, joined him there when the Indianapolis Colts took the AFC title. To see not only one but two African American coaches contend for Superbowl champions, 41-years-ago when it originally started would be unorthodox, was exhilarating. Before 2007, there was not one African American head coach vying for the NFL championship. Even though 65 percent of the players in the NFL are African American, the ratio to African American coaches does not reflect. Should we raise the questions, where are all the African American coaches? Are there any African Americans that want to be head coaches or blame it all on NFL officials? Nevertheless, we still cannot reject the fact that color boundaries are slowly changing throughout sports but politics and the entertainment industry too. Today more and more teams are adopting African American coaches, which show that we are still making prevailing strives as a culture.
In the future, I hope the issue of a coach’s skin color will not be the question of the hour. Before this history making event, 19 years ago, Washington’s Doug Williams became the first black quarterback to not only play in but win the Superbowl – remember that? Just another Black history fact. For decades, African Americans have struggled with wanting to become equals or even to be considered not a “fraction” but a “whole” human being. It is nice to see that the coaches are African Americans, but by using deductive reasoning, you know that came with adversity and that is enough to commemorate. And we should.
Others would argue that we should not focus on the fact that both coaches are African American but just accept them as two coaches that coached a good season. Of course, those people are??? Yes, those are the ones who argue that the media was overstating the fact that both coaches were African American. Why should we drop the blindfolds now and realize the color of someone skins when that is “not relevant?” Why? Because when African Americans defeat the odds or break down barriers, it should always be noted. If we do not appreciate what we are doing as a culture then nobody else will take any interest and we can testify that throughout history with the lack of preservation of accounts of our records. Just in 1997, Tiger Woods became the first African American golfer to win the Masters Tournament – remember that or was that before your time? Just one more Black history fact for you.
Kudos to Dungy and Smith – and to the next African American making a promising first!