Eric Woodyard Column: City’s legacy in jeopardy
February 28, 2011
FLINT, Michigan — Tonight is a celebration, surely it is.
The Greater Flint Afro-American Hall of Fame will host its 27th annual induction ceremony at the Riverfront Bauquet Center with a mingle beginning at 4 p.m and the program starting at 4:30 p.m.
The hall will welcome Tracy Byrd, Warren “Teddy” Dodson, Tommy L. Hamlett, David Hollingsworth, Jacky King, Eugene Marve, Fred Toins, and Coquise Washington Brown as its newest class.
“We want to preserve our history, because if you don’t know where you come from, it’s going to be hard to determine where you’re going,” Hall founder Norm Bryant said.
While this is a great thing for the community, it got me thinking about where exactly are we going as far as sports are related. How many more top-tier athletes are we capable of producing in the city in the near future?
I have been impressed with a few athletes in the “city” schools (i.e. Thomas Rawls, Ahasuerus McDonald, Jaylen McGee), but as a unit, we have a lot of work to do. Sure, it’s cool to “preserve our history,” but we have to create a history to preserve.
What’s going to happen 27 years from now if Norm Bryant no longer is a part of our community? We can only flip the Glen Rice and Mark Ingram stories so many times.
My whole mindset about city schools (Northwestern, Southwestern, Northern) was changed after reading Circuit Judge Duncan Beagle’s presentation to the Flint Board of Education regarding high school athletics. A graduate of Southwestern High School in 1966, Beagle’s studies have magnified a few problems that have to be addressed, especially in football.
In 2010, Southwestern and Northwestern did not win a single football game the entire season. The city posted a 5-22 overall record. This should not be acceptable in a city that once prided itself on athletics.
Now that I think about it, we have not won a state basketball championship since Northern did it in 1995. Powers’ Class B title doesn’t count, because they’re not a city school. We were once the “Basketball City.” I know we’re still capable of producing teams like the ones of the 1980s that captured five titles in a row. Let’s push our youth to work harder not only in sports but in academics as well, because many talented athletes aren’t even eligible to play.
Beagle hit the nail on the head when he included this in his research: “I am deeply concerned that many of our athletic teams have accepted losing, especially in football, and there is no strategic game plan to address how we can become more competitive.”
I totally agree — we need a plan (or two)!
That’s if we want to celebrate the successes of future athletes like the ones who will enter the Greater Flint Afro-American Hall of Fame tonight. I challenge the parents, staff, students, coaches, and the community as a whole to get back on the right track. It shouldn’t take a few stats to realize that we need to change and that we’re not competitive. We should have more pride than that.
Being a “Flintstone” used to mean something. I’m not sure how much longer it will if there’s no progress.