Campus Reform | ACLU wants college athletes to run track, not play golf, calling it 'among the whitest of sports'

ACLU wants college athletes to run track, not play golf, calling it 'among the whitest of sports'

The American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan sent CMU a letter urging the school to reinstate men’s track and field and criticize its adoption of a golf program.

The letter emphasized how track and field aided as a 'springboard to upward mobility' for the black community at Central Michigan University.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan is pressuring Central Michigan University to bring back their men's track and field team, citing that the original decision as having "far-reaching racial implications."

The ACLU of Michigan blasted CMU for eliminating the men's track and field program, but then adding a golf program, which it contends is "among the whitest of sports," Central Michigan Life reports. 

The university had announced the discontinuation of the track and field program in May 2020, citing financial concerns related to COVID-19.

After sending a letter on May 4 to the CMU president, Bob Davies, the ACLU of Michigan sent a second letter to the university board of trustees on September 16.

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"African American golfers are rare because of both historical circumstance and design. Country clubs that have been the training grounds for elite golfers have historically been racially exclusive," the September 16 letter states. "Add to that the expense of the sport and the socio-economic circumstances of many African Americans, and the reasons for the whiteness of golf are quite evident."

In their first letter, the ACLU states that track and field has a big impact on the Black community because it has "offered many a way out of oppressive poverty."

"By eliminating men’s track and field at the university, the door is effectively slammed in the faces of children of communities that already have more than their share of challenges, obstacles, and barriers," that letter states.

The September 16 letter also asks that CMU consider "several issues" that may "have legal implications" regarding the Civil Rights Act and the Elliott Larsen Civil Rights Act, noting that the university decided to replace track with a "white sport."

The first letter sent on May 4 was signed by Mark Fancher, the staff attorney for the Racial Justice Project at the ACLUof Michigan, as well as Jeffrey Edison, the chairman of the National Conference of Black Lawyers Michigan chapter. The second letter was signed by only Fancher.  

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In October of 2020, Campus Reform reported that the Davies announced that he would work to make the school "antiracist" after reading How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram Kendi.

Davies said that he “spent several weeks reading, re-reading, underlining passages and absorbing the advice” of the book. He learned that “the work to achieve this goal starts at the top...  with the Board of Trustees and me, and it is now the work of all our university’s top leaders.”

However, this isn't the first time that diversity, equity, and inclusion has been pushed on college athletics.

Bowdoin College in Maine recently announced that all athletics coaches will now be required to attend diversity trainings, with students attending some level of diversity training as wellas Campus Reform reported.

At the University of Oklahoma, a former volleyball player accused her former coaches of policing speech, claiming they said her social media posts were "detrimental to the team atmosphere," as Campus Reform reported.

Campus Reform reached out to CMU, the ACLU of Michigan, and Edison but did not receive a response.