…maybe Alabamians would more readily embrace their presence and discard their silly immigration law. In fact, if federal immigration laws were perceived as preventing the recruitment of talented college football players, Alabamians would undoubtedly be howling for their repeal.
The importance of football-playing blacks to the civil rights struggle in Alabama can not be gainsaid. Football of the collegiate variety is Alabama’s secular religion. It was Southern California’s Sam “the Bam” Cunningham’s running roughshod over a lily-white Alabama defense in the early seventies that sealed the deal so far as equal playing opportunity for blacks was concerned. After that whipping at Birmingham’s Legion Field, Bear never again had to apologize to his white alumni for recruiting black athletes. While there’s still plenty of racial animosity in other endeavors in which Alabamians engage (politics and non-secular religions come readily to mind), football in Alabama knows no color except the team’s colors.
White Alabama and Auburn fans couldn’t care less that both teams field starting lineups that are overwhelmingly black. Their Raideresque focus is to “just win baby”. As giddy as is the Alabama mind, it just could not hold to two contradictory belief systems, so treating star players as second class citizens just because of their racial background ultimately proved impossible. Belief in winning at football trumped belief that blacks were inferior.
Now that same discriminatory Alabama mind, a mind that instinctively separates “us” from “them” and assigns all the blame for the problems of the “us” to the presence of the “them”, has found a new “them” to which it may express its innate hatred and distrust.
The only hope now for Hispanics (and other immigrants, but let’s be real, the anti-immigrant law was directed at Hispanics) in Alabama is that the federal government bitch-slaps the state for its present-day jingoism like it did in the sixties for its racism.
Or, that Hispanics start playing American football in numbers sufficient that keeping them out would impair Alabama or Auburn’s success on the gridiron.