Let no one say there aren’t still big racial issues in amateur sports. But that worthy message gets diluted when a town cries racial profiling on a white coach for cutting only African-American students from a high school basketball team. Did I mention it’s an all-black team?
This is one of those stories where you’d think the controversy would be put to rest by the simple matter of, you know, facts. But, courtesy of LION IN OIL, some parents and ministers in Danville, Ill., are planning a protest and boycott after Coach Gary Tidwell cut eight boys, all black, from Danville HS’s basketball team. Again, since it warrants mentioning: the entire team is black. (Ludicrousness after the jump.)
Maybe everyone’s just upset that the team name is “The Vikings,” maybe the whitest possible mascot.
“We need to play hard ball to get some answers,” said Frank McCullough, pastor of Mount Olive Christian Church.
McCullough and Jerry Wilson, pastor of Freedom Missionary Baptist Church, said they got involved after parents came to them complaining that their kids weren’t invited to summer basketball camps and a preseason tournament, and were cut from the team earlier this month. They said the parents questioned Tidwell about his selection process, but weren’t satisfied with his answers.
“We have racial profiling going on,” McCullough said, adding that’s the only explanation in his mind. “He took a look at the way the young men wore their hair, and made comments about that and whether he thought they should be hanging out with certain people.”
OK, fair enough. It could be a legitimate claim that Tidwell discriminated against some of the boys based on their appearance. Then you read this:
Before the meeting, [senior Omar] Kelly said he felt Tidwell discriminated against him and senior Ayron Worthington, who wasn’t at the meeting, because they wore braids. But he acknowledged that two other players who were not cut also wear them.
In a rare show of logic from a school administrator, the principal has Tidwell’s back.
“The coach chose the student athletes that he thought were the very best players and would help the team be successful this year,” Principal Mark Neil said. “That was the basis of the choice.
“I feel for the ones who did not make the team,” Neil said. “It’s got to be tough on them and tough for their parents. … But I don’t understand the racial (accusations). The entire team is African-American.”
Still, community leaders and parents want Tidwell fired and the boys reinstated to the team (apparently at the expense of the players who weren’t cut.) If not, they threaten boycotts of sporting events and classes, and pickets at the administration building.
“If the community is behind us, and the students are behind us, I think we can get some things done,” said McCullough, who urged the students to convince their classmates to boycott school and adults to miss work so they could picket on Monday. “It’s going to take doing abnormal things to get abnormal results. … They think we’re bluffing. We’ve got to show them and commit to the cause.”
“We just want some answers,” Wilson said.