THE BLACK ATHLETE (CONT.)
Having been the student body president of the University of Texas at El Paso (1967-68), I can truthfully say that the facts in Part 3 of The Black Athlete—A Shameful Story accurately reflect the situation on the campus. I am ashamed that my fellow students and I did not do something about what we knew to be true. But, because even the smallest effort was effectively beaten back by the administration, the athletic department and the town, the few concerned and aware students eventually became very cynical and resigned to the fact of our powerlessness. I apologize to the black brothers across the country for not having had the courage-beyond being called a "nigger lover"—to do what must be done. Maybe the students still at UTEP and everywhere else will now have the necessary courage to do their part in radically changing a biased, prejudiced and corrupt intercollegiate athletic system, not only for the black athlete but for everyone who is exploited by an athletic department.
JAMES L. PHELAN
Since I am a member of the faculty at UT at El Paso, this must come as a surprise, for the general feeling here is "Why pick on us?". However, I feel impelled to thank you for doing from the outside what cannot be effectively changed from the inside.
Since almost every "imported" black athlete has taken his basic speech course with me, I can testify to his feeling of loneliness "in an alien world." I have listened to them speak, but I must confess that even I did not really understand the depths of their un-happiness until I read your article.
Much as I enjoy being a spectator at all sports, I cannot help but feel that there is a great deal wrong with a system that exploits athletes—both black and white. I hope that SI will continue to point out the weaknesses of our system, and the injustices suffered by those who participate.
Thank you for helping us to see ourselves as we are—not as we say we are.
JEAN H. MICULKA
Jack Olsen has presented a very interesting series. But he becomes so carried away with building a case against the UTEP officials that he resorts to overexaggeration and, in so doing, presents one paradox after another.
On one hand he seems to be criticizing everything about UTEP except its sensational colored athletes. On the other hand it was pointed out that UTEP "was the first institution in Texas that had a colored athlete," and that this near-miracle was accomplished without catastrophic consequences and by coaches who are "mostly Southern types" and by an athletic director who confesses, "I was born in the South."
The colored athletes "were suckered into coming here" is the theme of much of this installment, but Olsen winds up by saying the nine colored track stars who had their scholarships removed plan to return to UTEP next fall with or without scholarships. This would be mighty strange action by a group which, according to Olsen, "almost unanimously" regards UTEP as a ghetto.
In another example of Olsen's overstatements, he says emphatically, "If the Negro refuses to confine his dating to the handful of black women in El Paso, he might find himself on the next train out of town." The paradox here is that Olsen goes on to cite case after case where colored athletes have dated white girls in El Paso without being put on the next train. I also doubt that Olsen convinced many readers that "only a handful" of the 10,000 or so colored people in metropolitan El Paso are women.
I believe, as do many people here in the South, that UTEP officials have seriously tried to advance that day when Southwestern society fully accepts colored athletes. Maybe their mistake (if they made one) was in pushing too hard too fast for that day. In spite of what Olsen and some of the colored athletes say about the UTEP officials, I admire them for having this dream, and for trying the best that they knew how—right or wrong—to attain that dream.
RON G. CRAWFORD