This month’s column will be about the twenty-seventh issue of Instauration magazine. On the front page it says Volume 3, Number 2 and is dated January 1978. Also on the front page is the caption “Race and Athletics.”
As always, Page 2 is titled “The Safety Valve.” This is where the letters to the editor are posted. One letter reads as follows: “‘The Minority War on Science’ was superb. But if I were giving it to an unconverted friend, I would tell him: ‘This account is biased. The media account is biased. The truth lies somewhere in between. You try to figure out where.’ Personally, I would place the truth about 90% with the Instauration account, but I would not tell my friend this as it might damage my initial credibility. If I could get him to accept a fifty-fifty judgment, I would have made a great breakthrough. Then there would be all the time in the world to pull him over to ninety-ten. But if I praised the article to the heavens at the beginning, I would make him so suspicious I would upset the future opportunities for persuasion.”
The feature article of this issue is titled “Race and Athletics.” The sub-title to this article is “An ex-football fan finds black racism is taking over professional and college sports.”
In the 1967 Sugar Bowl Alabama played Nebraska. Alabama won this game 34 to 7. Shortly after that the National Sportswriters’ Poll was held. They ranked Alabama’s team in third place behind Notre Dame and Michigan State. This was odd, since Alabama had not lost a single game during the season, while Notre Dame and Michigan State each had tied a game during the season. The author of this article said that there were three reasons for this unfair treatment.
First, the sportswriters had traditionally favored Notre Dame, and, to a lesser extent, Michigan State. Second, there was an animus against the South in the media. At the time, the media considered George Wallace to be Public Enemy Number One. Third, Notre Dame and Michigan State had black football stars playing on their teams. Alabama was all White.
After this game, Southern colleges had started to lose more and more games. This was because Northern colleges began recruiting more and more black players. Blacks did not feel motivated to play for Southern colleges. This was partly because, however spectacular they were on the field, the local people took a dim view of them scoring with White girls.
Notre Dame, however, discovered that recruiting black players had its downside. On July 25, 1974, six black members of the “Fighting Irish” sexually assaulted a blonde high school girl in a dormitory on Notre Dame’s South Bend campus. Ara Parseghian, the Notre Dame football coach, decided that, rather than subject the players to criminal charges, he would suspend these six players from the football team for a year. The black players on the team decided that even this slap on the wrist was too drastic. When Notre Dame was playing the University of Southern California, the team suddenly “went slow” in the second half. Notre Dame lost to USC by a score of 55 to 24.
Wells Twombly, a columnist for The San Francisco Examiner had this to say about it: “There is growing evidence that the Irish didn’t care how badly the Trojans defeated them. They let a 24-6 halftime lead turn into a 55-24 defeat. They weren’t winning one for the Gipper. They were losing one for Art Best. They were giving their coach a lesson in humility. They were punishing Ara Parseghian for not playing one of their most popular colleagues. They didn’t throw the game exactly. That much will never be proved, but they did relax. ‘The black players,’ said a source at Notre Dame, ‘have always felt uncomfortable at Notre Dame. They equate Catholicism with White people and the black kids we have been getting lately have all turned into instant militants.’”
Shortly after this incident Ara Parseghian decided to resign.
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