Sports and societal change…
Sports has always been a major changing force in our society. From Jesse Owens showing up Adolph Hitler in the 1936 Olympic games, to Jackie Robinson breaking the baseball color barrier in 1946, to our own Prentice Gautt in 1956. Challenging societal norms has always been difficult for this country.
As a lover of history, I have found one underscoring tenet that seems to help facilitate these changes. We love to win…Owens and the Americans kicked some Natzi butt back in 1936, a move that western society desperately needed. The Dodgers used Robinson to beat everyone, except the Yankees while in Brooklyn. Bud fought off the 1956 bigoted storm to win another National Championship that year.
Apparently, BYU has gotten the memo that diversity can be a good thing. I have noticed of late that the BYU football team is working its way toward breaking the color barrier. Mormons are taking a page from Bear Bryant and Alabama. Granted the BYU campus is still 99.99% white, but who knows this thing may catch on in Provo.
I mentioned Alabama because I grew up a Southern Baptist as have most Alabamians. The Southern Baptist Church got its start in its support of segregation before the Civil War and Alabama society continued to be steeped in this belief system well into the 1960’s. Greasing the skids of change occurred in the form of winning football games. The only thing that would change the minds of a bunch of Alabama rednecks was winning football games.
BYU was a once proud football program winning a National Championship under Lavell Edwards back 1984. Since that time, the program has fallen on hard times…I would argue that this decline was due in great part to the lack of skill position athletes. Similar to Alabama, BYU may have come late to the party, but as they say, better late than never.
Without this change in attitude, a Cougar move to #20 rank nationally and its defeat of Wisconsin at Camp Randal Stadium a few weeks back would have been impossible. The Cougars may not beat a much better Washington team this weekend in Seattle, but the chances of that happening are much better today than they were five years ago.
Something to think about…