Sports Lessons Help Defeat Racism

Wayne BakerContributor IJuly 13, 2009

CHARLOTTE, NC - MAY 17:  Cullen Jones competes in the Men's 100m Freestyle preliminaries during the Charlotte Ultra Swim at the Charlotte Aquatic Center May 17, 2009 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

There are times when we realize how important the lessons we learn in sports are as they relate to the real world. 

Case in point, take a look at the recent actions of the Huntingdon Valley Club.

For those of us who have been out of the loop lately, the Huntingdon Valley Club is a private swim club in a gated, bucolic setting located in a predominantly white suburb of Philadelphia.

On June 29, a day camp called Creative Steps, which is made up of 65 mostly Hispanic and African-American kids under the age of 18, had arranged with HVC to swim at the club.

When the kids arrived at the club and dived into the pool as planned, swim club members caught a case of Archie Bunker and pulled their kids out of the pool.

And of course, Creative Steps kids were treated to a buffet of racial insults that would have made old Archie proud.

Alethea Wright, camp director for Creative Steps, confirmed the racial insults in an interview with a local Philadelphia television station and said HVC has offered to refund $1,950 that her camp paid to swim there.

John Duesler, who is the president of HVC's board of directors, is taking the high road. He said the invitees were denied a dip due to safety concerns, nothing racial.  Of course, he added that the club has a diverse, multiethnic membership.

Well, one parent disagrees with Duesler.  Amy Goldman, a member of the HVC, told a Philly news station that since she has been a member for the past two years and can't remember seeing a black face paddling in the pool.

Cullen Jones, the top black swimmer currently competing in the United States, was shocked by the event and called the situation, "disturbing," and reminiscent of something from the 1960ss.

For those who play or played sports, can you hear a coach yelling, "Play through it and work hard to get what you want? Don't quit no matter how tough the opponent is."

I'm thinking maybe folks will start to get the idea that the game of racism is not over and even kids are forced to still play in the game.

But working as a team and never giving up can help us defeat the HVC opponents we undoubtedly will continue to face.

We just can't quit and let them win.