Skip to main content
Original Issue

The Atlanta Constitution


Georgia Techgoes to the Sugar Bowl as originally scheduled. The state's battle line ofsegregation is as clearly drawn as before. Nothing has been accomplished. Ihate to think of what the average Georgian must look like to the averagecitizen of Spokane, Wash, or Duluth, Minn. or Montpelier, Vt. or even to thoseof Birmingham, Jacksonville and New Orleans. You can't escape being one of themob, even if you think differently. All of us look the same to those people,for this unsightly mess is the work of the people we elected to office.

I like to feelthat there is a certain democracy in sports that is found in no other field.This has been a blustering intrusion of that field by some politicians whochose to pitch their grubby battle on sports grounds.

Sports belong toeverybody. Everyone has a leisure hour and it is his private property. InGovernor Griffin's trying hour last week he and his son got away from it all ona hunting trip. This is sport. Birds aren't racially discriminating. They'llfall for a black man's shot as well as a white man's shot, if it hits themark.

This intrusiontook a swipe at everybody, for in some way or another everybody in the statewill have his right to choose the kind of sport or pastime restricted. Certainunlegislated barriers between white and colored races will always exist. Commonsense and social custom dictate these. In the field of team sports, however,there is no violation of these barriers.

To the contrary,sports have been a leader in establishing a better understanding between allraces. There is no point here in bringing up the contributions of athletes likeJesse Owens, Fritz Pollard, Harrison Dillard, Joe Louis and even JackieRobinson, contemptuous as he is at times, to our stature as the outstandingsports nation in the world. But they are part of the record, and we speakproudly of our superiority in the Olympic Games.

Despiteassurances from Regents' Chairman Robert Arnold that Tech or Georgia could play"anywhere they are invited," there apparently were clauses in theboard's ruling that might make it a big gamble for the Sugar, Gator or OrangeBowl to invite either team.

The Sugar Bowl,of course, fell a victim of circumstances. But never in the past has Georgia orTech been required to get the governor's permission to play a football game.How is it, then, that President Van Leer should have called Governor Griffinand requested permission this time?

Georgia neverasked permission to play St. Mary's, including John Henry Johnson, in 1950 orPennsylvania, including Ed Bell and Bob Evans, in 1952. Nor did Tech askpermission to play Notre Dame, with Wayne Edmonds and Dick Washington, in1953.


Now it can betold that a prospectively bright football series with Notre Dame was cut to onegame in South Bend, Ind. The Negro athletes of Notre Dame couldn't be invitedto play on Grant Field. Georgia plays Michigan in Ann Arbor in 1957, but can'tinvite the Wolverines to Athens.

Mixedparticipation on the athletic field is an old thing, even in Georgia. Negroeshave played in the Sally League for four seasons. They've been established inthe "grass roots" Georgia State League for two seasons. The day thisAugusta group wired Georgia Tech in protest of the Sugar Bowl match with Pitt,the Augusta baseball club purchased a Negro outfielder. The principles arebadly confused.

It is unjustthat Georgia Tech, Van Leer and Bobby Dodd should be innocent victims in thisdiscouraging affair. I was delighted that Georgia students rose up and joinedarms with Tech in protest, though the method of expression certainly wasquestionable.

It stands,though, that they are in it together to this extent: that whatever goodwill thetwo schools have achieved on the athletic field has been virtually wiped out bythis distasteful case of political interference. We would all be ever sograteful if the political axe-grinders would carry their business elsewhere andleave the playing field to the players.