In 1953 the Brooklyn Dodgers made history by starting five
players of African descent (Americans Jackie
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, Roy Campanella, Don Newcombe and Jim Gilliam, plus
Cuban Sandy Amoros). It was the first time that more than half the starting
players on a major league baseball team were black.
Last year a similar
moment took place in collegiate lacrosse when the Baltimore Sun reported that
Virginia fielded a midfield made up of all African American athletes for about
30 seconds in the third quarter until Rhamel Bratton scored a goal and the lines
Drew Pannell and Ryland Huyghue are both founding members
of the International Diversity Lacrosse Council (IDLC). According to the Sun,
the IDLC, founded in 2007, provides services and programs that impact inner city
and other under served communities.
?There is major significance here,?
Huyghue told the Sun. ?The fact is that there are less than two percent of
African American athletes playing the sport of lacrosse. It shows the sport has
no color boundaries and that anyone of any background can play the sport and
play it well. It also shows that the coach is looking at them as athletes whom
he has confidence in to get the job done. What happened on the field that
Saturday was a major advancement in the sport of lacrosse.?
Americans think of lacrosse their minds flash back to the Duke lacrosse rape
case which ended in the charges dropped against the accused players and severe
penalties against the local prosecutor for misconduct. In this
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, the alleged victim was African American, the
accused were Caucasian, and there was one African American athlete on the
At the height of the coverage, Duke African American athlete and
lacrosse player Devon Sherwood stepped forward and told ABC News that his white
teammates were being stereotyped and were victims of reverse discrimination.
Sherwood also said that members of the black community in Durham accused him of
selling out the race because of his Duke scholarship and his position in the
traditionally white sport. ?It?s terrible to find yourself being stereotyped,?
Sherwood told ABC News, ?regardless of who you are.?
Lacrosse claims that African American athlete participation in the sport is
growing. Former All Star Goalie Bill Daye, an African American who had to retire
because of a neck
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, is bullish on the progress he has seen.
think it?s great for lacrosse that more African American players are involved
and it has made the game more diverse,? Daye said. ?When I began playing I was
one of the few black athletes involved and sometimes I took some heat for it
because it was thought of as a sport in which only white athletes
?I simply fell in love with the game as I?m sure other
African American players have. For that sole reason it should not matter what
color your skin is but how you perform when you step on the field.? Daye
particularly cited John Christmas, Damien Davis and Kyle Harrison as examples of
what African American Athletes can accomplish as prejudices and barriers fall
and more opportunity is realized. ?I hope they will pave the road for more black
lacrosse players to follow,? he said.
?Lacrosse has never had a platform
like the NBA, NFL, or Major League Baseball, said Joshua
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, Managing Director of Sports Development at US
Lacrosse. Lacrosse doesn t have those iconic figures like Michael Jordan. The
general public just hasn t been exposed to it. There are no identifiable heroes.
In fact, the biggest lacrosse figure is better know for playing
football, Hall of Fame running back Jim Brown. Brown was a two time lacrosse All
American at Syracuse University from 1954 to 1957. Brown is considered by many
to be the greatest ever to play the game and was inducted into the National
Lacrosse Hall of Fame in 1983.
As lacrosse raises its profile and African
American athletes emerge as stars, African American participation will grow. As
has been proven for more than 60 years, the need to win and the rewards that
follow will trump any need to exclude.
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