Monday, January 22, 2007

History in the Making

I was prepared to scrapbook on Sunday, February 4th, all day. Several scrapbook stores around the area will provide an outlet for the football widows on Superbowl Sunday - I was looking forward to it. Somehow, in the blink of an eye, that all has changed with one day. On Sunday, January 21, 2007 two African-American coaches made history. As the first black coaches to be in the Superbowl they will make history because of their heroic roles as leaders and as good coaches. Should it matter that they are African-American, black, of color....I don't know if it should, but it does.
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I am much more of basketball fan. I love the Detroit Pistons. I only began following the Indianapolis Colts because of our relocation. I understand more about the game now, and I have a broad appreciation for what is happening on the field. Four chances to move the ball - I like those odds. I always thought 3 strikes - what if they had one more chance???? I also have come to a late understanding - football players are easy on the eyes. I, however, will most likely not be a die hard football fan. I still like the game of basketball better. What I have become is a coach fan - a fan of Tony Dungy.

His grace on and off the field is one for the real history books. It is obvious that he can coach, obvious he loves the game, and obvious that he will make history. However, at a time when everyone wanted to talk about being black and making history - he refocused the attention where it was due - the success of his entire team and the tremendous boost to the Indianapolis love fest for all fans - they have finally done it. Whether or not they win the big trophy they have demonstrated that they can win, they have what it takes for the big game - they are the best. Tony, meanwhile, seemed to be giving more of a sermon than a pep talk when players describe is half time feedback. Unwaivering, unchanging support and confidence that they had the skills to do what they needed to do - that is what every player said. He thanked God not by his postgame soundbites but by his daily life and example.

When you look at the 1/2 time odds, they weren't good. The team eventually had the biggest comeback in history. In a matter of 30 minutes I had gone from hoping my sons would divide my loyalties (1 football player and 1 basketball player) to believing they should both stick with the hoops. For someone who is dedicated to education, the pursuit of academic excellence and strong male leadership - the school aspect of our lives is a no brainer. We aren't really sports folks though - and I'm hoping, planning for that to change. I have come to believe that boys need an active outlet, a bonding experience, a succinct way to learn life lessons other than the traditional ways. I believe the same for my daughter but her needs are simply different. Boys need male role models and black boys need black men. Point closed as far as I'm concerned. It is a biological need. I thank God for my husband and his role in our lives because I believe God made it to be this way.

Coach Dungy displayed incredible poise at a difficult time - both personally and professionally. I couldn't imagine all that went through his mind during those first and last moments of the game - but my husband said it best, "I bet he would have done anything to have his son at that game." The thoughts about his public demeanor at a difficult personal time still give me hope. Yesterday wasn't about making history or about coaching - it was about dignity and leadership - displayed in unwaivering certainty over and over again. There are times when subtle grace makes me even more proud of my cultural heritage than I already am. Thank God for history in the making. More than football, more than coaching - I thank God for the example that has been set by the lives of these men across this nation. What a tremendous way to start this week - a true celebration of the heart.

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