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Mp Draft #2

Old School vs. New School

The Treatment of African American Athletes before and after Racial Segregation



In my mini ethnography I decided that I was going to look into the treatment of African American football players now versus treatment before segregation.  I wanted to discover if African American males were treated differently in high school football before segregation, then they are now.  While being an African American high school football player, I did not recognize much difference between the ways I was treated compared to the other players on the team.  There were however, some noticeable differences.  The hypothesis states that African American football players of today’s age will be treated differently than they were before segregation.  To conduct my work I will be making observations of the J.H. Rose Rampants Varsity Football team.

There were things that needed to be accomplished prior to beginning my field work.  First, I needed to go to the head of the school and explain to him what I was hoping to learn by observing students.  I did not want him to view me as an intruder roaming around the school grounds.   I met with the principal in his office and informed him of my plans, and that anything I wrote about the school if it were to be published would go to him first to review it.  After about 30 minutes of convincing, he agreed to let me observe the team and would be fine with my field work studies. Next, I would also need to run my field work study by the football coach.  We settled on the days that I could observe the team and to be sure not to interfere. I proceeded to the Coach’s office and further explained what I had previously told the principal.  I also added that I did not really want to be noticed by the players.  In order to get the quality results for my field work study I wanted, I did not want the players to be aware of my presence.  It was preferred that the team acted as if I wasn’t there so that I could get as close to  accurate results as I possibly could.  I informed the coach that I would be changing my behavior to fit the norm so that my own behavior would not affect the results and I would be respectful of his coaching techniques and stay under the radar from the players.  The coach agreed and promised me that his own behavior would not be changing because of my presence. After leaving his office I made a promise to myself that I would record my observations as accurately as possible without corrupt data. By making this promise I would be more able to get the proper results for my findings.

While I was in high school, my family lived in one of the richest, most diverse areas in the nation. I was able to experience interaction with other cultures and receive things that children in less fortunate areas may not.  This does not mean that I did not miss out on the teachings of the basics of football.  I was taught as an equal of other kids in the program.  I learned great leadership and made friends that I will have throughout my lifetime.  Which are things that can be viewed at J.H. Rose High School.

Even though I was raised in private school setting up until my freshman year of high school, I was not out of the loop of public schools.  When I was younger I played sports through the county so most of the kids on my team attended public schools.  I was able to befriend many of them early on in my childhood.  These friendships helped me learn and develop behavior.  This would have benefitted me if I was to interact with a player on the Rampants team.

Football has always been a huge part of my life.  As a high school student I was a highly competitive player.  I thought by studying this subculture it would be a good way to get reconnected with the sport that I loved.  I knew that this field study assignment would be fairly easy for me because I spent much of my childhood and adolescence participating in it.  Although being very knowledgeable in the sport, I knew there would also be some difficulty in this field working activity.  Since most high school athletes are very confident and boastful, I knew that if they were aware that I was watching them that they mostly would try and show off for me instead of undergoing their normal behavior.  I wondered to myself if certain athletes would try to out shine other athletes just because I was watching?  Or would certain athletes become lacsidaisical because other were performing at a higher level.  I knew that if I were to be noticed by the players, it would make my results skewed and even more difficult to get.  I tried to make myself as non-noticeable as possible.  In order to be sure of this, I would stand in spots that would not be so noticeable to the players and coaches.  I also did not reveal to the coaches which practices or games that I would be attending.  At the end of the field study, I conducted an interview with the head coach questioned him on what he thought of the treatment of African American athletes compared to Caucasian athletes.

With the completion of this project, I hoped that I would be able to attribute to my personal opinions and learn from the players and coaches.  My goal in this project was to see if the racial treatment of the athletes was the same.  I arrived at the Joyner Library at East Carolina University, conducted an interview of the head coach, and made observations of the Varsity football team at J.H. Rose High School.  I was very interested to jump into this project.  I viewed it to as a very interesting assignment that I could relate and compare to my own life.

When I first visited the school to reveal my project, I took mental notes of what the school looked like from the outside and what I thought of it. I would have notes to compare my thoughts prior to my study to after my study and being familiar with the school.  This gave me an outsider’s opinions of the school.  I did not want to be caught up in judging a book by its cover.

When I first arrived at J.H. Rose High School, I was very shocked to find several kids in trouble at the principal’s office.  There were four African American children in trouble and one Caucasian child.  I was surprised to find this but as I was waiting to meet with the principal there were children that just kept coming and they all had done something that break the rules.  After a few minutes, the quarterback came in.  He was an African American and seemed like he was idolized by all his fellow peers.  The way he was treated when he walked in and the way he was talked about when he left the office gave the impression, even before I even did my observation, that African Americans Athletes were viewed as gods at this school.  Although I said to myself that I cannot use this observation to sway my opinion of all other African American Athletes on and off the field.


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