From the sports editor

The black and white issue, is it an issue?

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By BRAD SPENCER

Race. It can be a touchy subject. The NBA is African-American dominated. Major League Baseball is Caucasian dominated. The NFL is African-American dominated. The NHL is Caucasian dominated.

Let's drop the politically correct terms for now, and by doing so, we hope we are not offending anyone, except maybe the animal kingdom.  

The black population in baseball is waning, the white population surging. The black population in basketball is surging, the white population waning. The black population in hockey, well we can't use the word extinct in this instance because there really never has been a black population in hockey.

Why are we dividing ourselves in sports? How come not many black kids tryout for the baseball team at OPRF? How come not many white kids tryout for the basketball team at OPRF? These are head-scratching questions.

I want to know why the NFL needs to hire more black coaches when on any given night there are maybe one or two white players on the court in an NBA game. I want to know why Larry Bird and others have expressed their thoughts on the NBA's lack of white players in recent years. I want to know why the NAACP hasn't forced the NHL to actively recruit and provide programs in hockey for black youth athletes.

I want to know why every time a sportscaster expresses the opinion that blacks tend to be better athletes than whites, he/she is branded a racist. Is it a compliment? Maybe it's an insult. Isn't this more a fact than an opinion? According to my own personal research (hours upon hours of sports viewing in the last 25 or so years), there are far more superior black athletes than there are whites. To name only a few: Mohammad Ali, Michael Jordan, Barry Bonds, Walter Payton, etc.    

I want to know why if the push is there for NFL teams to hire more black coaches, why can't the same be said for female coaches, or even female black coaches.   

I also want to know why you can't mutter the word bomb on a plane, mention stick-up in a bank, talk out loud in a library, bring a can of soda to church, talk directly to a non-automated customer service representative, or make reference to Iraq within 100 yards of a liberal democrat. But the space here is limited, so let's stick to the topic of race.

Notre Dame recently fired its head football coach after only three seasons on the job. Tyrone Willingham, now at Washington, is black. His replacement, Charlie Weis, is white. You name me a college football coach with a five-year contract who was fired after just three years on the job for a mediocre record. Something may need to be investigated there.  

It's been said, most notably by former Notre Dame and NFL standout Paul Hornung, that Notre Dame spurns the black athlete because of its tough admission requirements. Hornung and others feel that Notre Dame needs to revamp its admissions requirements so the school can successfully recruit and sign top athletes, black or white, or whatever race they may be. Hornung was first quoted as saying this would improve the chances of Notre Dame recruiting the black athlete (he has since retracted). This is just wrong on so many levels, I care to only give one piece of advice to Hornung: Go away.

I am for one appalled that Notre Dame is currently discriminating against my fellow brethren, the ignorant.

Anyway, I want to see more whites in the NBA, but I can't tell you why for sure. Is it because I'm white? But I also want to see more blacks in the NHL (if, that is, hockey is ever played again).  

We're never going to see an equal balance of blacks and whites in any sport. It's something we're going to have to come to grips with. All we should really want to see are athletes anyway.

E-mail: Bspencer@wjinc.com

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