Sunday, March 21, 2010

Sunday Sports Report

Today, PNJ sports reporter D.C. Reeves somehow manages to write a 5,300-plus word front-page investigative report on the striking racial imbalance among high school football coaches in the two-county greater Pensacola area without once mentioning the word "racism." Now, that takes skill. Or, something.

To his credit Reeves tries, just a little, to dig into the statistically improbable numbers:
In Escambia County, where 22 percent of residents are black and 59 percent of high school football players are black, Smith is the only black head coach. The last before him was Horace Jones, Washington High's head coach from 1979 to 1982.

Since Smith graduated from Catholic in 1990, there have been 57 head coaching vacancies, and he's gotten three of them.
He also reports "Escambia County has 10 black assistant football coaches. Santa Rosa, where 17 percent of players are black, has one."

These curious numbers are suggestive, certainly, but not conclusive. Pensacola School District superintendent Malcolm Thomas probably senses this. That's why he can pull the wool over Reeves' eyes with the risible explanation that "it's extremely difficult to find black teachers willing to accept the beginning pay of between $32,000 and $33,000."

Say, what? Black teachers aren't "willing to accept" the standard starting pay but white teachers are? But black coaches, however, are willing to accept the lower pay of an assistant coach rather than be paid as a head coach?

Thomas' convoluted excuses are wearily familiar for a school system that never really became fully racially integrated, even after 1972 when a federal court ordered it.

Reeves may be a sports reporter, but we're guessing he isn't a hard-core baseball fan. Otherwise, by now he'd have dug as deep into the applicant pool numbers for every local coaching vacancy over the same period as the run-of-the-mine baseball fan does while analyzing batting stats.

Maybe the sports reporter plans a follow-up article, testing the veracity of superintendent Thomas' transparently silly suppositions about what "black" coaching prospects want. For one thing, Reeves might inquire into how many of the overwhelming number of white football coaches have been fired or 'transferred' for serious defalcations. There are some interesting stories to be uncovered there, we're pretty sure.

For another, he could statistically analyze the selection and rejection numbers in every football coaching hiring and firing event since 1990. Here's hoping he has a hard-core baseball fan to assist. At a minimum, the PNJ should spring for a copy of Measuring Racial Discrimination by Blank, Dabaddy, and Citro.

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