High School Football History

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In 1971 high school football was the most important fall activity in many towns in Virginia. The head football coach for a large high school was an important public figure whose job could be forfeited if the season didn't go well. If the team was a winner, the coach was a revered and powerful man. The stars of the team were heroes. In that year, the Alexandria school board decided to comply with court orders to integrate public schools by consolidating the junior and senior classes from its three high schools into one of the schools, T.C. Williams. The Titans became the city's most important football team. Its head coach was now the prime head coach for the city. Its players represented the entire town. In 1971 Alexandria's star football…show more content…
The racial composition of the city changed as middle class white families left and community support for football declined. In 1971, T.C. Williams was 77% white. In 1991, it was the only public high school in the city and only 27% of the students were white. In addition, in the mid-1980s, long after Coach Boone had retired, drug use was rampant on the team. (One player claims that seven members of the 1984 team were dealing drugs.) Another potential cause is a rule implemented in Alexandria requiring that students in the sports program keep a minimum C average. (Under Virginia High School League rules, athletes can play with a D average.) In addition, the facilities had deteriorated due to lack of funding. While racially-united teams persisted at T.C. Williams into the mid-1980s, by the late 1980s, white players reported that the team "belonged" to the black players. White kids at T.C. Williams report that the school is internally split, and the races don't mix socially or academically despite the fact that they go to the same school. This section drawn from "Does Anyone Remember the Titans?", Sports Illustrated, October 15, 2001, pp. 72 et seq. Additional Discussion…show more content…
Is the story of the Titans unusual for what occurred in the South during the time of the Civil Rights Movement from 1954 on? Suggested Response: Yes and no. Yes, in that it was so dramatic. Yes, because in a crucial year, this football team was led by two phenomenal coaches and two amazing players. Yes, in that during a year marked by racial violence throughout the nation, an entire town took its cue from the football team and remained calm. It's not unusual in the sense that during this period many courageous black men and women, like Coach Boone, took risks to change society. Black young people, like Campbell, let go of their rage and forgave. Courageous white people, like Bertier and Coach Yoast, realized what was really important to them (in this case the team) and took principled but unpopular stands. This happened all over the South, perhaps haltingly at times, with backsliding often, but ultimately the actions of people like Boone, Yoast, Bertier and Campbell improved the lives of many people in that

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