however, his statements were so obviously true that something
of an anti-PC backlash has materialized in his defense. To their
credit, Sam Adams and Thierry Smith, two African-American Denver
sportswriters, both agreed on their KKFN radio talk show that
DeBerry's remarks weren't racist and that they, as black men,
weren't offended by them, adding that just because something is
race-related doesn't mean that it's racist. Even Rocky Mountain
News columnist Bill Johnson, an African-American with a hair-trigger
for political correctness, let DeBerry off the hook. Can it be
that there are actually rational limits to political correctness?
Apparently, yes. And DeBerry, inadvertently, exposed this sacred
cow for what it is.
After the uproar, DeBerry's contrite public apology was predictable.
The last thing the Academy needs now is more bad publicity, deserved
or not. But it doesn't alter the fact that truth is a defense.
And there was no foul here. Whom did DeBerry injure? There was
clearly no animus toward black speedsters in his statement. In
fact, he'd like more of them on his squad.
In his book,
Taboo: Why Black Athletes Dominate Sports and Why We're Afraid
to Talk About It, Jon Entine takes this issue head-on. He
addresses the cultural, socioeconomic and, yes, physiological,
explanations for the dominance of black athletes in certain areas
of sport. On the physiological side, he provides convincing research
from doctors and anthropologists who are by no means racists.
A chart shows the monopoly of world running records held by those
of West African descent in sprinting events, and North and East
Africans in distance events. The inescapable conclusion: at the
highest levels of competition, blacks are generally better runners
than whites. It's not a racist slur; it's a benign racial observation,
complimentary if anything. What's the big deal? Do you suppose
blacks dominate the ranks of college and NFL running and defensive
backs because the teams engage in unfair racial discrimination
against whites? Of course not. Teams simply discriminate, justly,
against slow whites - and slow blacks, for that matter.
Air Force Falcons were shellacked 48-10 by Texas Christian University,
DeBerry was understandably envious of the legions of TCU's fleet-footed
black players. Much has changed since the glory days at West Point
when the running-back tandem of Doc Blanchard and Glenn Davis
- two white guys - led Army to national championships in the 1940s.
Segregation and limited opportunities kept many blacks out of
colleges back then and excluded them from football varsities.
Today, football teams that can't attract superior black athletes
are at a decided disadvantage.
If the Air
Force Academy's first priority were its football program, it might
lower its academic standards to attract the best athletes. But
football isn't a top priority; training future Air Force officers
is. Football may be big business at many colleges. At the service
academies it's still sport.
When I made
this point on my radio program, an outraged listener responded
by e-mail: "You talk about how the standards need to be lowered
for black people to enter the Air Force Academy. Why? You think
they are just dumb black people." In fact, I said nothing
of the kind, but such is the nature of PC paranoia. Academic standards
don't have to be lowered to admit blacks. Just check out the current
cadet squadrons. Young black men and women who can meet the high
standards are already there, distinguishing themselves by their
performance. The point is that standards shouldn't and won't be
lowered to attract football players - black or white - who can
play for other colleges but aren't academy material for a variety
frank remarks were most likely expressed out of frustration. In
essence, he was saying that the colleges against which he competes
that have lower academic standards have a clear advantage over
the service academies in recruiting the nation's top football
speedsters, an inordinate share of whom are black. Another factor
may be that physically gifted high school tailbacks dreaming of
a lucrative NFL career may not be interested in a five-year commitment
to military service following graduation. This explains why the
service academies are often overmatched these days against NCAA
Division I opponents. Can anyone rationally dispute that?
Mike Rosen's radio show airs
daily from 9 a.m. to noon on 850 KOA.