We don’t do a lot of sports here at “The Way of Improvement Leads Home,” but every now and then I run across something worthwhile that I want to share with my readers.
ESPN.Com is running a great piece by Howard Bryant on former Indianapolis Colts coach and current NBC broadcaster Tony Dungy. What I like about the piece is that it acknowledges the powerful role that Christianity plays in Dungy’s life, but focuses more on his faith-based action than his faith-inspired rhetoric. Bryant focuses on the way Dungy tries to reach out to young and troubled African-American athletes like Michael Vick.
At one point in the essay Bryant draws comparisons between Arthur Ashe and Dungy:
The worlds Dungy straddles could not be more different, which makes him invaluable. He connects to the young black men who are, overwhelmingly, the financial fuel of top-level collegiate and professional sports. Yet Dungy also has managed to cultivate the men in suits, the men who sign the checks, the ones who have little or no connection to African-Americans outside of athletics (indeed, some owners are removed from their own teams), the ones who might be too insulated from the black perspective.
“The first time I met Arthur Ashe, I was organizing, and here’s this guy with a big Afro playing in these lily-white country clubs. So I approached him and asked him for his support,” Harry Edwards says. “Now, I wanted him to say what Bill Russell had said, that it was about time, but he said, ‘Harry, that’s not my way.’ And I walked away thinking that he was an Uncle Tom.
“And then I came to appreciate the imperativeness of his way. At some point everyone is going to have to sit at the table and come up with solutions to the problems we face in society. Without Arthur Ashe, without that lesson, I still would have been on the other side of the fence. And that’s the role Tony plays. Finally, someone has come onto the national scene to serve that bridge function left vacant after Arthur died.”
I hope you get a chance to read this article. It is a fine piece of sportswriting.