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Thursday, December 4, 2003
Race, Mississippi, and Coaches

By Steven Taylor @ 8:13 pm

Robert Prather of Insults Unpunished has a thoughtful post on the hiring of Sylvester Croom as the new head coach at his alma mater, Mississippi State. I had meant to link to it yesterday, but never got around to it, and now that I have read some of the comments that have been posted, I decided to post a link and make a comment or two of my own.

First, in an ideal world race shouldn’t matter. One expects that most folks who read this blog take that as a given.

Second, I personally would argue that race relations in this country have improved mightily in the last several decades. However, it is clear that the task of creating a color-blind society is far from complete.

Third, Robert is right-this move is an important one for the state of Mississippi. It does mean something. It is too bad that it does, but nonetheless the truth is the truth. I have now lived for over five year in Alabama and likely to be here for a very long time. I have family from here (my mother, grandparents and many others) and grew up in Texas until I was a sophomore in High School, so I have a good idea of the stereotypes that are often associated with the South (and like many who are from the South, I have resented them). I know that most of them are unfair. However, like some of the statements I have made here regarding the Confederate Battle Flag, I have become more sensitive to the race issue here in the Deep South after having had a closer look at the facts on the ground, so to speak. Things like Croom’s hire is important, both symbolically and in real terms. I don’t buy the argument that one should hire someone just because they of a given color-that is racism. I have profound philosophical problems with affirmative actions programs. However, there is no denying that we as a country have a history that includes substantial, institutionalized and isidious racism. We have done things that violate the very principles of liberty and democracy that are supposed to hold dear. That legacy takes time to become truly distant memory. Anything that helps to push that legacy farther and farther in the recesses of our collective minds the better, even if it is something like hiring a football coach. These things do matter and having no blacks coaches in the SEC, even if for wholly innocent reasons, was a problematic symbol, at the very minimum.

In sum: Robert was right to be proud of his school, and while one shouldnt make too much of the hiring of a football coach, I would say that Crooms hire is a good thing for the state of Mississippi, the South in general and for the SEC. Indeed, it should be a good thing for the Mississippi State football program over the long haul, as Croom has an excellent resume.

(And while I am at it, I am sticking this post into today’s BELTWAY TRAFFIC JAM)

Update: I kept referring to Mr. Croom as “Crooms” above-which I have now correctred.

Update II: When the Alabama job was open, I thought that Croom was a better candidate than Shula, but it was because of resume.

Update III: Some other folks have entered the conversation: James of OTB and Christopher Lawrence of Signifying Nothing, as does Sean Hackbarth of The American Mind

Filed under: US Politics
  • Signifying Nothing linked with Progress and powder-blue helmets

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  1. As an ex player at MSU, I not only feel that Coach Croon,s hiring will be good for the state of Mississippi and the university but I also think it will be good for sports in general.

    Comment by Stanley Howell — Wednesday, March 3, 2004 @ 10:52 am

  2. As an ex player at MSU, I not only feel that Coach Croon,s hiring will be good for the state of Mississippi and the university but I also think it will be good for sports in general.

    Comment by Stanley Howell — Wednesday, March 3, 2004 @ 10:52 am

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