Air Force football coach Fisher DeBerry was recently reprimanded for statements he made regarding African American athletes. After a recent 48-10 loss to Texas Christian University, DeBerry said TCU "had a lot more Afro-American players than we did and they ran a lot faster than we did," according to espn.com. "Afro-American kids can run very well. That doesn't mean that Caucasian kids and other descents can't run, but it's very obvious to me that they run extremely well."
Yes, I can see how his comments can be interpreted as being offensive. I just don't think he meant any harm. The man is the highest-paid employee at the Air Force Academy. I would like to think he would make smarter career moves than to state comments that could be viewed as blatantly racist and trigger some people to think he should be fired.
I've met Fisher DeBerry and he isn't the most eloquent man around. His accent and quirky sayings make him likeable, but I would never hire him to teach a speech class. Although this is his 22nd year coaching Air Force football, living in Colorado for that long has done nothing to taint his heavy Southern accent. If he can't even lose his accent, then it's no wonder he used the term "Afro-American." DeBerry is 57 years old. I'm surprised he didn't use the term "Negro."
He was just looking for a way to defend his losing season. Let's face it: Air Force football isn't doing well this year. For example, CSU beat the Falcons 41-23 in a televised Thursday night game. Last year, Air Force beat CSU 47-17 in cold, snowy conditions. That's a pretty radical difference. But commenting on how well a particular race performs in football just isn't the way to go.
He could have explained one reason why hardly any football players who can "run extremely well" don't attend the Air Force Academy, whether they are black or white. It just isn't beneficial to them. Why would a talented player attend the Air Force Academy when they are obligated to serve time in the military afterwards? A player's chances of being drafted in the NFL go down the drain. The benefits of the military can be great, but it wouldn't be wise to choose that route when instead a player can makes millions in the pros.
I'm wondering why all of a sudden he felt the need to pick on TCU. Racial performance in athletics is an age-old issue and I'm disappointed he felt the need to bring it up. If he believes his loss to TCU was because they had more black players, then I'd like to know his reasoning behind the loss to CSU, or even BYU for that matter.
I'm sure he learned his lesson, and hopefully next time he can just comment about the players and not even mention race. Or better yet, he can examine what his team did wrong in addition to what the other team did right. If I made as much money as he does, I'd be walking on eggshells. His statements were probably misconstrued. I don't think he's a secret member of the KKK or even a threat to the African American race. He's a product of his upbringing and the time period in which he was born, which wouldn't even be a big deal if he wasn't in the public eye.
Megan Schulz is a sophomore technical journalism major. Her column runs every Tuesday in the Collegian.