For the past 5 decades, the consummate definition of a role model for African-American youth has been Black athletes or entertainers that have defied the odds and have made it. During these 50 or so years of so-called “prosperity” the sub-culture of Africa-America has experienced periods of phantom-like growth with no real social change being evident. Past smokescreens of success are now being exposed as “one big hot mess.” For example, I have recently been asked to appear on several radio and television programs to sanction the possible merger of the WPIAL and Pittsburgh City League to create financial stability for the cash strapped city athletic system and in the process promote “racial harmony.”
This is not a merger, this is a covert and hostile takeover. Let me be perfectly clear. I am not with anyone, anything, anywhere yesterday, today or tomorrow tampering with the last bastion of history that remains for Black and White Pittsburghers. City schools have been merged and closed in perverted numbers and now there are forces that want to merge the only thing we have left, athletics. If they want to merge for the greater good, why not merge a few of the failing city schools with some of the more successful and fiscally sound suburban institutions. Get the “Black and Yellow” busses rolling, baby!
City Schools do not have the facilities or the administrative mechanisms in place to even have a minimum chance at success. In October 2010, Mike White from the Post-Gazette penned an article about the possible merger and quoted Chris Edmonds, girls’ soccer and wrestling coach at Perry as saying “I just think there is too much of a gap between the WPIAL and City League for it to be worthwhile to us.”
Edmonds gets it. How about pumping some dough into the schools themselves, well at least the ones that continue to remain open? Coach Ron Wabby who won 166 games in 26 seasons as Brashear’s coach before retiring after the 2006 season was also quoted. “I would hate to see it (the merger) happen, in a way, because it would mean the end of an era.” said Wabby “The City League is still a big thing for kids. There is good and bad about it. But I think the City would have to step up and put some money into the programs if they’re going to compete with the big boys.”
Do any of you folks in your right mind think that “Sunny Suburbia” is going to invest in Pittsburgh high school athletics when they know that the city league represents nothing more than “sparring partners”? I called City League Athletic Director Mike Gavlik a while back to get a bit of “insight” from him. He seemed a bit “skittish,” and declined to answer any of my questions and pointed me toward Pittsburgh Board of Education spokesperson Ebony Pugh, who I declined to contact. Hey my time is more valuable than to run around collecting press releases.
Chew on this bit of fat for a moment. The University Center of Social and Urban research posted the census 2000 City of Pittsburgh Neighborhood Rankings—November 2002 Ranked by Percentage of Population Age 25 and Over With Less Than a High School Degree. The following areas posted and continue to post appalling high school dropout percentages. Bedford Dwellings 50.2 percent, Glen Hazel 48.8 percent, Terrace Village 40.9 percent , Golden Triangle 39.1 percent, Marshall-Shadeland 38.4 percent, Mount Oliver 35.1 percent Sheraden 18.4 percent, Northview Heights 34.5 percent, Windgap 18.1 percent, Saint Clair 34.0 percent.
We have more to worry about than athletics. Our schools are being polluted and diluted by a power group that does not care if our children excel on the gridiron, basketball court, baseball diamond or in the classroom. By the time that you read these words the guardians of our children will no longer have to beware of the Ides of March because that time will have passed, (at least in 2011). However, parents of City League athletes must not relax for a moment and they must continue to remain diligent and wary of those preaching racial and economic parity disguised as athletics because these so-called “purveyors of change” have not come to praise our children, they have come to bury them.
It has been proven time and time again that when it comes to economically deprived and socially challenged urban youth, the threat of being dismissed from an athletic activity as a result of unacceptable grades is oftentimes the sole motivator that literally forces this group of student-athletes to excel. If more of our athletes get to go to the next level, get the merger machine, a-crackin’. If the City League is being absorbed just to be eventually dissolved, then tell them for me, the late Kenny Durrett and the late Maurice Lucas, where to go. And the destination that I am referring to has a guy with horns and a tail working the front desk.
(Aubrey Bruce can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-583-6741.)