Sunday, January 21, 2007

Coaches Overcoming Their Blackness

So the Super Bowl is set, as is the storyline that will be pounded into our heads for the next two weeks - that Lovie Smith and Tony Dungy are the first two African-American head coaches to make the Super Bowl. Since modern sport stories are usually geared toward the lowest common denominator, this is the story that sports writers will think is the cheapest hit. It's only a matter of time before a reporter at Media Day asks Tony Dungy, "so how long have you been black?"

If I were African-American, I would probably think that was pretty cool - America can never have enough positive "firsts" for African-Americans. But let's not get carried away - African-Americans shouldn't exactly sit by their mailboxes waiting for their "Lovie Check" to show up in the mail.

To point out that both these coaches are black over and over again seems insulting and condescending - as if they are at some inherent coaching disadvantage simply because of their skin color. (Lovie Smith's greatest disadvantage is that he has a caucasian quarterback who sucks.) It has an almost "Awwww.... aren't those black coaches cute" type of vibe to it - like when they give a kid in a wheelchair an at-bat in tee ball.

What they are are simply two excellent head coaches who paid their dues. Unfortunately, it took too long for them to be able to start gaining the experience they have now. However, there have been really good African-American coaches for years and years now. Herm Edwards will make a Super Bowl, as will Marvin Lewis. People keep hiring Denny Green for some reason. The dude the Steelers just hired will suck, but not because he's black - because he was a Vikings assistant coach.

For the next two weeks, however, this will be a celebration of condescending white guilt on display. Sports commentators will be able to announce to the world how happy they are that there are two black coaches in the Super Bowl, and the sins of all their ancestors will vanish. Certainly, celebrating the skin color of two head coaches will go a long way to helping African-American kids trapped in failing schools with single mothers barely staying afloat. As I've said before, America shouldn't be judged on how many black head coaches we have - we should be judged on how many black CEOs, computer programmers, and doctors we have. And we're not doing well.

But this will be the obvious story that will be drilled into us over and over. Just like last week, when we were led to believe that New Orleans is only liveable now because the Saints won a few games this year. So now that the Saints lost today, does that mean New Orleans falls back to being a hopeless, unliveable hellhole?

So it's time to celebrate, Black America - all your problems have now been solved with these two head coaches making the Super Bowl. Racism has officially been eradicated - because Chris Berman told me so. Hopefully, African Americans will be able to cope with the fact that one of these coaches will actually lose.

That being said, go Colts.