Blog Entry

Dear Gary (on Kentucky/Adolph Rupp)

Posted on: July 17, 2008 4:05 am
Edited on: July 17, 2008 4:11 am
 

Here's Thursday's Dear Gary ...

Dear Gary: Why do you hate Kentucky?

-- Every UK fan on the planet

That's not an actual email I received -- just a combined and condensed version of about 100 emails I got Wednesday after writing a breakdown of the Indiana-Kentucky matchup for the CBSSports.com National Champions All-Stars Bracket. Like I predicted, the Kentucky fans were out in full force. One guy wrote that he hopes I die, another said he hopes my family dies and though another guy didn't exactly wish death on anybody, he said he planned to soon because his birthday is coming up. So when they light the candles and instruct him to make a wish, I'm told, he plans to wish for my death.

(What ever happened to wishing for world peace?)

Anyway, what I'd encourage Kentucky fans to do is look at the other breakdowns I've written for this series and recognize that not a single one is in a serious tone. I've written about Bobby Hurley's truck accident, Bob Kenney's hair and Michael Jordan's inability to succeed in divorce court. So why anybody thought I would "just stick to basketball" when it came time to write about Kentucky and not mention Ralph Beard's and Alex Groza's point-shaving scandal is beyond me. Every word I've written in this series has been goofy or sarcastic or both. I'm just trying to have fun with it. That's all.

Now to Adolph Rupp.

Honest to God, I didn't think UK fans would take my comment about him so seriously considering it was preceded by a sentence explaining how I was worried Beard and Groza might throw the game and make the National Champions All-Stars Bracket a controversial event. I mean, I was just playing around, you see? But I clearly angered some people when I joked that it was unclear whether Rupp would be able to coach Tony Delk and Jack Givens considering he didn't recruit a black player to Kentucky until the end of his 41-year career, and for that I'd like to -- ready for this? -- apologize. In fairness (to myself), I didn't actually call Rupp a racist and was only joking about race, and I wish everybody liked to goof around the way I do. But I can understand why some believed my goofing around perpetuated the theory that Rupp was a racist, and that's a theory that seems to range from debatable to unfair depending on whom you ask.

Yes, it's true, Rupp did not coach a black player until he signed Tom Payne in 1969. But the SEC as a whole didn't have a black scholarship basketball player until Perry Wallace played for Vanderbilt in 1966. So at worst Rupp was just three years behind Vandy, and people close to Rupp insist he would've signed a black player earlier if not for the fear of taking one on the road to places like Ole Miss.

Anyway, I'm not here to give a history lesson on Adolph Rupp.

And I'm not interested in defending him, either.

Let's be honest, the man was no saint.

But I cannot tell you for a fact that Adolph Frederick Rupp was a racist, and if he truly was not a racist - as many insist -- then I think it sucks that so many basketball fans think of him that way. Consequently, I should not have inferred what I inferred and perpetuated the theory of Rupp the Racist because I hate it when people do it in other walks of life, whether it's the repeated stupid and cliched myth of Obama the Muslim or whatever. So even though I was merely joking, it's probably a joke I could've left out of the column. And unless somebody provides me with some hard evidence that Rupp was indeed a racist I don't plan to ever characterize him that way again. 

Comments

Since: Mar 7, 2008
Posted on: July 31, 2008 11:58 pm
 

Dear Gary (on Kentucky/Adolph Rupp)

It is always refreshing to see a columnist admit he has erred.  Big names such as Tony Kornheiser freely perpetuate the myth that Rupp was a few shades from being Grand Dragon on national media, and I hope that you freely pass on the "mythbuster" Big Blue History pages on to your colleagues.  (Especially the popularly-held belief that Christian Laettner is a "good guy," or, a "PTPer baybee!!! --- see http://bigbluehistory.net/bb/laettn

er.html)  My feeling is that a lot of people take their cognitive association with the man's unfortunate given name and unfairly apply it to him.  Even though UK was one of the first SEC schools to recruit black players, their success in basketball and the Texas Western game put a target on the program's back (no one seems to care that Auburn or MSU had no black players).  But it's a good story.  Ask Dan Rather about those, sometimes they don't get checked.

However, I do find it unfortunate that your elucidation led you to make the analogy that "Rupp the Racist" is akin to "Obama the Muslim."  Presumably, you find racists detestable and consider it a slur to call a man that is not around to defend himself a racist without a shred of true evidence.  What similarities does this have with a rumor that a living person follows Islam?  Do you consider calling someone a Muslim to be a slur?  If not, than what similarities does it have warranting such an analogy with "Rupp the Racist?"  Would it be offensive or dampen your support for him if Obama followed the Teachings of Muhammad (PBUH) rather than those of Jesus?



Since: Mar 4, 2007
Posted on: July 29, 2008 2:03 pm
 

Dear Gary (on Kentucky/Adolph Rupp)

I read the link that is on this blog page. I see it like this; unless you knew the Rupp personally, or was living during his time, how can you call him a rasist. If you have read the bible you would know not to jugde people for what someone else has said.



Since: Jul 15, 2008
Posted on: July 28, 2008 8:10 am
 

Dear Gary (on Kentucky/Adolph Rupp)

Gary, I love that you drive UK fans nuts, but it's also great to see you eating a slice of humble pie and apologizing. I think you're a great writer, and spot on with your commentary during basketball season. That said, I'm sure you were just trying to be funny during the long and agonizing summer months when you're forced to write about fictional "what-if" match-ups...



Since: Sep 17, 2006
Posted on: July 25, 2008 6:00 pm
 

Dear Gary (on Kentucky/Adolph Rupp)

Araker - try and remember that both whites and blacks fought under the guise of the Confederate Flag during the Civil War - it was not a symbol of racism as many of the idiotic easily-offended-support-group-yuppi

es might have you believe - just as the Civil War was not primarily a war about racism and slavery. If you think the thing was fought over the dispute between slave-holding states and those yearning for abolition, please open a history book and save the rest of us the grief of writing out the condensed version.

Rupp was a racist to the best of my knowledge, which is pretty good, but feared for the lives of these young boys going into other SEC school stadiums - can you imagine having a black player going to a game in Alabama, Ole Miss or Georgia? Rupp may also have been driven by the fact that, had a player died or been seriously maimed by some racist lunatic while under his tutelage, the Kentucky basketball program, Rupp's own legacy and perhaps the Civil Rights controversy would all have been turned upside down.


As to you, Gary - I understand you tread a thin line as a writer - we have a school paper at Kentucky called the "Kentucky Kernel", which publishes an editorial cartoon daily. You may have read about the "controversy" surrounding a particular cartoon for the Kernel, and as a cartoonist myself, I assure you the outrage is about as ridiculous as that of people threatening your life over an article. While in your case I would say that the joke did seem to imply your fence-straddling belief that Adolph Rupp was a racist, I fully accept the apology, and wish only that it did not have to be made. In this world of context-clueless internet text and difficult to interpret allusions, perhaps off-color jokes can no longer have an openly-accepted place. Believe me, as someone who makes a living off such jokes, I wish it were not so.



Since: Jul 24, 2008
Posted on: July 24, 2008 4:16 pm
 

Dear Gary (on Kentucky/Adolph Rupp)

Gary, I'm glad that you have a more open mind about Mr. Rupp.  His legacy has been besmirched beyond record.  I'm glad that you took the time to read over some of http://bigbluehistory.net/bb/wildca

ts.html John Scott's site.  That guy deserves an award for the info he has put together about UK.

I'll certainly start reading your work more often as I enjoy reading people who don't perpetuate myths and in many instances all out lies.  Keep up the good work and don't let the vocal minority get you down. 



Since: Aug 17, 2006
Posted on: July 23, 2008 4:41 pm
 

Dear Gary (on Kentucky/Adolph Rupp)

In reference to cliched myth about Obama being a Muslim

Where in the Constitutuin does it say a Muslim cannot be President of the United States anyhow?




Since: Mar 20, 2007
Posted on: July 18, 2008 11:39 am
 

Dear Gary (on Kentucky/Adolph Rupp)

Thanks for that link.  I'm not here to defend Rupp, but it pains me to see some that will take the situation and turn it around to be something it wasn't.  Too bad his parents gave him a first name (spelled differently, I know) with such bad connotations.  Go Cats!



Since: Feb 19, 2007
Posted on: July 17, 2008 8:22 pm
 

Dear Gary (on Kentucky/Adolph Rupp)

The confederate flags were probably prominent in the SEC schools not as an implication of racism but as a sign of pride in their part of the country.


Let me guess:  the organized racist chants against Perry Wallace were just folks taking pride in the south too, eh?



Since: Nov 20, 2006
Posted on: July 17, 2008 6:50 pm
 

Dear Gary (on Kentucky/Adolph Rupp)

The confederate flags were probably prominent in the SEC schools not as an implication of racism but as a sign of pride in their part of the country.



Since: Jun 6, 2008
Posted on: July 17, 2008 6:02 pm
 

Dear Gary (on Kentucky/Adolph Rupp)

I meant racist not relationship.


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