Former Idaho Coach Warns Don’t Use Race as a Crutch
You’ve probably left a job interview and thought you hit a home run. Only later are you crushed when you get a rejection letter. Did someone not like your looks? The color of your skin? The size of your waistline?
Coach Pete Coulson joined me for lunch one day this week. As some of you know, he’s of mixed race ancestry. Even while attending a Christian college, he sometimes had to deal with stereotypes about his background. He coached at schools in both Salem, Oregon and Twin Falls. He also has spent decades working as a referee.
He didn’t want them using it as a potential crutch for failure. He wanted them to work hard for everything they earned.
He shared with me as we walked into the restaurant that he’s sure some people didn’t get jobs for which they were well qualified because of the color of their skin. For the record, I don’t doubt his claim. It may not be as common as it was 50 years ago but some hiring managers still cling to some stereotypes.
Then he surprised me when he explained he never told his players they would face discrimination when searching for a job. He didn’t want them using it as a potential crutch for failure. He wanted them to work hard for everything they earned. Whether on a playing field or at work. Because he believes if they see themselves as a member of the human race versus an ethic classification, they’ll find more success.
Eventually talent and hard work win. In sports you can find a historical parallel. During the early 1960s the National Football League remained a circuit dominated by white ballplayers. In need of talent, the rival American Football League had no qualms about signing black athletes. By the time of the 1969 championship, the Kansas City Chiefs were stocked with black stars. The Minnesota Vikings entered the game as one of the highest scoring clubs in history. The color for the Vikings was primarily along the defensive line. For the Chiefs, it was all over the field. Kansas City crushed Minnesota.
In an office environment, a worker who can earn for the company is valued no matter race, creed or faith. Ever more so over the last 30 years as shareholders have demanded greater efficiency.
The lessons Pete was teaching on the field were designed to carry over through life. He’ll be joining us next Wednesday morning at 8:00 o’clock on Newsradio 96.1 FM and Newsradio 1310 KLIX.
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