Just a place for random rantings and ravings.....

Thursday, January 18, 2007

It's a (Black) Super Bowl Sunday

As I was growing up, I became a HUGE sports fan, and there's only one person I can credit with that- my Dad! I can remember when boxing used to come on ABC's Wild World of Sports and my dad would be right there- front and center, watching some no-name pugilist bob and weave in the hopes of one day getting a title shot in his respective weight class. Sometimes he would win, sometimes he would get his ass kicked, but my dad was right there, hoping he'd jab his way to victory. One thing I started realizing is that regardless of who was fighting, my dad would always root for the Black dude... Honestly, I really didn't think of it as anything extraordinary at the time.....

In the mid 80's, I remember going to a bowling alley with my dad and watching Philly play Boston in the NBA Eastern Conference Finals and sure enough, my dad was rooting for the 76ers. Me being the little kid trying to establish my "man"hood at the tender age of 8, rooted for Boston. It wasn't because I liked Larry Bird or those putrid green uniforms with the too short, ass huggin' mini pants. It was because that small competitive side of me wanted to beat my dad at something! He gave me whoopins on occasion (deservedly so) and I guess I felt that it was the only way I could get the best of him- without getting another whoppin for it! I think Philly won though, as my dad ALWAYS seemed to know who was going to win in the end. Hell, I don't remember...but what I DO remember is the fact that Philly had a whole lot more Black players than Boston....hmmm.

Then, Super Bowl 22 came around and MY Denver Broncos were facing the Washington Redskins. Throughout the game, I was hopelessly cheering my lackluster Donkeys like a rabid dog, but my Dad was being a "traitor" and cheering FOR the ENEMY (yes Woozie, that would be YOUR team!) This, I could not understand in the slightest bit. Hell, we lived IN Denver and my dad had called it home for 14 some odd years. How could he be cheering for the damn Redskins in the most important football game of the year?!?! I think it was THEN that it hit me...My dad wasn't rooting for the 'Skins at all, he was rooting for Doug Williams. In case you need a quick lesson in Sports History, Doug Williams is the first and ONLY Black quarterback to have won the BIG one in football and did it by royally kickin' our asses, 42-10. This in turn set aside years of racial stereotyping that said a Black QB couldn't do it. Up yours Jimmy the Greek! In fact, Williams had one of the best games in Superbowl history, but I won't go into details, THAT ass whoopin' still stings a bit.

Since then, I've found myself rooting for the Black cats too- just like my dad. It doesn't even matter what sport- golf, bowling, NASCAR, bassfishing, figure skating...you get the idea. I don't even WATCH these damn boring ass sports, but if there's a Black person competing, I'm on their side, and it seems like my whole family has joined the fray. Just to give you an idea, my grandmother didn't start watching tennis until the Williams sisters came on the scene. Now she tells ME about the matches in great detail. During the World Cup (uh, that would be soccer!) I openly hoped for all the African teams (and Trinidad) to do well. When they all got eliminated, I was hoping Ecuador would make a good run- which they did. Then they got put out so finally I settled on France because they were the one team with the most Black dudes on it. Now this may seem like a racist notion to some- but it's not. Maybe there's a bit of hypocracy involved considering my globalist point of view, but I can't help it, dammit! Here's why.

(I know this seems like it should be a WTF post, two Black dudes on ice skates and a presidential hopeful but pinch yourself, it's for REAL!)

What struck me most was the realization that each victory for a Black contender in sports, politics, medicine, and ANYTHING else has always been a metaphoric victory for ALL Black people. Just like the days when Joe Louis and Muhammad Ali (Happy Birthday Champ) were literally fighting their way to the top, each knockout was a symbolic message of hope- their victories were our victories. They made us human at a time when most of society thought of us less than human, and treated us worse. What a heavy burden! Though times have invariably changed, the uplifting feeling of pride that occurs everytime a Black person succeeds has not.

This weekend marks a possibly HUGE moment in the world of sports. For the first time in history, there could be a Black head coach in the Superbowl. Not only that, there might be TWO, Lovie Smith and Tony Dungy! Unprecedented. As I've said before, no Black coach or athlete wants to be known as a good "Black coach/athlete"- they want to be known as a GOOD COACH or ATHLETE, not separate or marginalized- just human. Hopefully, one day that will happen and ESPN won't feel compelled to use the racial marker before explaining how good someone is, but until then, I'll have my biases I suppose. Just so you know, I've never been an Indianpolis Colts fan, and I stopped liking the Bears after they released the "Fridge" way back when, but this Sunday, I'll be rooting for them both. In the event they face each other in the Super Bowl- honestly, I won't care who wins, but my heart will be with Indy (that's where my Dad is from). Don't tell Kiyotoe though...he's a Bears fan and I'll never hear the end of it!