Sports, Culture and Power


I want to thank the sponsors of the recent telecast of the York High / Central football game. My schedule has been so hectic lately that I have not been able to see this terrific team play.  It was heartwarming to witness the positive, and emotional celebration this York High team displayed tonight. You could feel the love, the comradeship and the Spirit they displayed, after their well-deserved Victory over Central. Spirit such as this has the potential to Lift the Spirits of all of those around it.

I began thinking about the Cultural and Historical impact this season of success would or could have on the psyche of this community. From past experience, I know how much of an impact the actions and behaviors of a popular, admired or respected group of young men can exert on the climate of a community, positive or negative. Back in the days, as in today, the enlightened could almost track the climate of the community by examining the success or lack of success of its major sports team.

With the difficult and troubling educational process in our community, some people say we spend too much time on “Celebrations”. Not truly understanding that as a people Celebration under adversity has and continue to hold the taunt threads of our survival together. Celebration of familial and communal events serve as a time of rejuvenation and inspiration to a body that faces adversity and struggles for survival almost every single day. The celebration of family members success – Proms, Athletics and Graduation – are almost sacred in our community, even amidst the difficult times.   

Back in the 1980, my Brother Kerry and I ran a few youth development, educational programs around the Philadelphia, New Jersey region. At one of the Universities we participated in a program to train a group of “Positrons” These Positrons would serve as a small cadre’ of youth who could act as internal change agents amongst their peers. The theory was to train groups of young students to act as positive leaders in their communities, which were caught up in the throes of a growing, devasting drug trade.

I’ve always thought that, even though our district has had significant issues, if we could improve the attitude, desire and value our students have towards education, we could overcome any obstacles. And visa versa, if we can’t improve those characteristics our district will continue to struggle however many times we tweak the curriculum or infuse additional resources.   

Even though Culture is highly Political, I don’t want to totally politicize this commentary. So, my thoughts were, can you imagine the young Men of the York High football Team serving as mentors, tutors and role models for the generation of youth coming up behind them. Can you imagine these young men having visible positions throughout the school district, and the community, modeling what success looks like to a younger generation?  Can you imagine the impact of these young student/athletes, most of whom I hear pursue excellence in scholarship, on the educational habits of the rest of the district’s students?

This team and the Spirit they have awakened in this community reminds me of one of the overriding themes of the recent Movie “The Black Panther.” In the movie, the Spiritual connection to Family, Community, History and Culture provides significant buffer against the destructive forces of the World. It has been quite a while since this community has had such a game changing opportunity for improvement like the one it has now.  

Many folks especially many who benefit greatly from much of the downtown development might say they are pleased with the progress of this community

Renovating, rejuvenating, and the development of buildings without Renovating, rejuvenating, and developing the people is simply like putting lipstick on a pig. Not insinuating the town is a pig, but, you get the picture. People say sports. Like music is one of those things which transcend race, politics and the troubles of the world.  


Author: jkirk

Founder and Chief Researcher for the York African American Historical Preservation Society