From the department of "What goes around..."

'Jim Brown, born ineligible to play for the Redskins, integrated their end zone three times yesterday.'
--Shirley Povich

So I guess if I get to be Len Pasquarelli, the cats at CHHF get to return the favor and play Cornel West for the day:

Conventional wisdom in many segments of society tells us that this is a racist country. In fact, many people make a living off of perpetuating this idea. Believe what you want.
But know this: the Hall of Fame ceremony this weekend, not to mention others before it, tell quite a different story. These stories speak of an America of profound racial interaction and - gasp! - even harmony.
These ceremonies speak of an America where grown men step up on stage during the crowning moment of their lives and openly profess their love for other men and women - be they black, white or yellow, Christian, Muslim or Jew, city slicker or country bumpkin.

Word up. One of the best things about watching football is the utter disregard for color. Again, I see the world through the lens of a Cowboys fan--I can't imagine two people with more dissimilar backgrounds than Troy Aikman and Michael Irvin, and yet they became great friends as a result of football. I think it's no mistake that we see this phenomenon in sports and in war--arenas where credentialism is more directly punished than other sectors. Depending on a guy to basically look out for your body does wonders for the cause of multiculturalism.

That said, I'd caution against extrapolating too much from the world of pro football, and specifically the Hall Of Fame. Many of these guys are multimillionaires. And the pressure they lived under, for a brief moment in their lives, creates a unique bond. My Dad traveled a world away from the politics that sent him off to the Vietnam War. He went in wanting to be John Wayne. He came out damn near Nat Turner. But when his old war buddies called for a reunion a few years back, he still went. But those sorts of experiences aside, we are still a profoundly segregated country.

There's another cautionary note I'd add about the "tolerance" of pro football and the military--you better not be gay,

Presented by

Ta-Nehisi Coates is a national correspondent at The Atlantic, where he writes about culture, politics, and social issues. He is the author of the memoir The Beautiful Struggle.

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register with Disqus.

Please note that The Atlantic's account system is separate from our commenting system. To log in or register with The Atlantic, use the Sign In button at the top of every page.

blog comments powered by Disqus


A Stop-Motion Tour of New York City

A filmmaker animated hundreds of still photographs to create this Big Apple flip book


The Absurd Psychology of Restaurant Menus

Would people eat healthier if celery was called "cool celery?"


This Japanese Inn Has Been Open For 1,300 Years

It's one of the oldest family businesses in the world.


What Happens Inside a Dying Mind?

Science cannot fully explain near-death experiences.

More in Entertainment

From This Author

Just In