Mule dung and milk

Published 12:00 am Monday, March 8, 2004

Leave it to a couple of yahoos to stir up the old hornet’s nest.

Last week in this space, I addressed the issue of a widening gap of basketball talent within the North Carolina Independent Schools Athletic Association’s (NCISAA). I made my opinion very clear – either close the (God forbid, should I dare say it) recruiting loopholes that currently practiced in this organization or for our local schools and others who are growing increasingly tired of an unleveled playing field to withdraw from the NCISAA and begin their own association, one where athletes are of the &uot;homegrown&uot; variety, not solicited to attend school based solely upon their athletic abilities.

Then, on Thursday, my Publisher, Jay Jenkins, echoed my comments in his column.

Judging by the reaction on the message board of, a website of which I subscribe, Jay and myself – just a couple of men that have a combined 50 years of observing prep athletics of all levels throughout the state – prompted more reaction than from the Martha Stewart trial.

Some of the responders wanted to play the race card. From reading between the lines, I guess they are under the opinion that because we were from the northeastern part of the state, we were jealous that black athletes were beating up on our basically all-white private schools. That argument fails to hold any water. I’ve covered high school, public and private, athletics since 1974. The only &uot;color&uot; I’ve noticed in my 30 years on the job is the uniforms, not the skin tone of the athlete.

Another poster said that our responses reminded him (or her) of the NBA – &uot;the West wins; the East whines.&uot; Gee, that must have taken a lot of thought.

In a bizarre response, a poster said this – &uot;(the eastern schools) are as good as you are in the piedmont and the west, even though we don’t think we are and we can never prove it. We think you (piedmont and west) get the highways, schools, universities, shopping malls, convention centers and athletes….and we (I guess, referring to the east) feed the mules, plough the fields before school and basketball practice, and then go home and milk cows.&uot; And just think, the majority of the posters thought I was being stereotypical in my comments.

But my hat is off to one particular poster in Greensboro. Apparently, he knows Cal Bryant better than Cal Bryant.

In his response, he referred to me as being a xenophobic (scared of strangers or foreigners), an elitist (deserving favored treatment) and said I was a whiner. He added that I didn’t understand that school size determines classification and that I, rather than Mel Gibson, should have been cast in the starring role in the movie, &uot;Conspiracy Theory.&uot;

I’ll politely respond – in just a moment; I first have to remove the mule dung off the bottom of my boots and then pour a nice, tall glass of fresh milk – by saying that the only strangers/foreigners I’m bothered by go by the name of Osama; the only favored treatment I ever received in life came from my mama (and don’t you ever talk bad about my mama or I’ll get in my tractor and plow, not plough, up your front yard); the last time I whined was just last week when my beloved Wolfpack lost for the second time this season to those hated Tar Holes; and I’ve been through enough state public school realignments over 30 years to know that school size and classification go hand-in-hand.

Now, I will thank this particular poster for thinking of me in the role of Jerry Fletcher in &uot;Conspiracy Theory.&uot; What man, at least those of us in our right minds, wouldn’t want to cozy up next to the drop-dead gorgeous Julia Roberts?

But enough of wishful thinking. Getting back to the matter at hand, I’ll simply say once again that it is of my opinion that the NCISAA should immediately address the unfair practice of some of its members – I never identified any of these particular schools, but we all know who they are – who are soliciting, enticing, coaxing, inviting or recruiting (whatever you want to call it) blue-chip athletes.

I’ll stress once again the only way to truly savor a state championship, in any sport, is to build within your pool of homegrown talent.

These are simply my opinions and, believe it or not, there are many who agree, judging by the response to last week’s columns. I would like to see the NCISAA remain intact, but the Board of Directors, at their scheduled meeting that begins today, must do the right thing and level the playing field for ALL of its members.