Friday, January 26, 2007


Earlier this week, I was having a chat with some friends about the upcoming Super Bowl. As native Hoosiers, we all expressed some degree of allegiance to the Indianapolis Colts, and the majority of us expressed our solid support for the blue-clad warriors from the Circle City. When we began to discuss the coaching situation, our conversation took an interesting turn.

At this point, please allow me to interject a significant fact which may not be known to readers who are not sports enthusiasts: Never, ever before has a team led by an African-American coach even made it to the Super Bowl. Never. In this year's Super Bowl, both of the teams involved are coached by African-Americans. Tony Dungy has done a masterful job leading the Colts to the title game, and Lovie Smith has done the same with the Chicago Bears.

The fact that two African-American coaches are involved in this year's Super Bowl has certainly not been lost on the media. As soon as the Colts had completed their amazing come-from-behind victory over the New England Patriots, the talking heads began making much ado about the impending battle between the two coaches of color. There is no doubt that the Dungy-Smith matchup will be the subject of many stories this week, and probably for years to come after that.

With this backdrop, as my friends and I discussed the upcoming Super Bowl, one of them observed that, in his opinion, too much is being made of the coaching matchup. In my friend's opinion, Dungy and Smith should not be held up as being outstanding black coaches; rather, to his way of thinking, they should be considered only as coaches, with their race being irrelevant. In his view, it diminishes the accomplishments of the coaches if too much is made of the fact that they are African-Americans.

I know where my friend is coming from, and I know that his heart is in the right place. He truly believes that all people should be considered equally. He thinks of Dungy and Smith as outstanding coaches, period, and he thinks that not too much should be made of the race factor.

I believe that, if we lived in a perfect world, my friend's view would be absolutely correct. Race shold not be a factor. However, especially when it comes to equity for African-American coaches, we certainly do not live in a perfect world. Far from it. Coming into the football season last fall, there were only six black head coaches in all of the NFL. Three of them: Dungy, Smith and Marvin Lewis of the Bengals, have now established themselves as the league's top coaches.

In the college ranks, the situation is much worse. There are 119 Division 1-A teams. Coming into last season, there were precisely five Divison 1-A head coaches who were African-American. That is a truly dismal statistic, and it shows that we still have a long, long way to go to establish equity in opportunity for African-Americans who desire to be head football coaches.

The fact that Tony Dungy and Lovie Smith have made it to face one another in the Super Bowl this year is remarkable because of the fact that coaches of color have so regularly and systematically been excluded from the opportunity to become head coaches. The fact that they have made it to the grand stage should be rejoiced. It would be difficult, if not impossible, to celebrate their accomplishment too much.

It is my fervent hope that the head coaching matchup in this year's Super Bowl will be an eye-opener to us all, and that it will engender greater opportunity for otherAfrican-Americans who have the talent to become head coaches, but have been denied that chance. In this regard, a level playing field is long overdue.

--The Meatbe

Thursday, January 18, 2007


Just over a week ago, I consumed a fast food feast of such grand proportions that I am almost embarrassed to tell you about it. I hadn't splurged in quite a while, and so I figured that I had it coming. And, believe me, when I decide to splurge, I can really pack away the vittles.

I started off with an Ultimate Burger from DQ, and a large order of fries. Of course, I complemented the fries with ample amounts of ketchup. That should have been more than enough. Not quite sated, however, I topped it off with an all beef chili dog with cheese and onions. And then for good measure, I added another chili dog. To make my repast complete, I washed it all down with a few beers. As I said, I am not proud of this feat. It's a wonder that I didn't have a massive coronary on the spot.

Not surprisingly, the next morning I was feeling the effects of my gluttony. My punishment was actually more mental than physical, as I berated myself for eating as if it were my last meal prior to facing the gallows. I really do try to eat a healthy diet most of the time, and so I was feeling very guilty about my monsterous splurge.

While I was in this state of mind, last Thursday morning, I picked up The Courier Journal to read Bryant Stamford's "The Body Shop" column as I always do. In this particular column, his subject was the importance of a low-fat, plant-based diet, and the health benefits provided by such a diet. There was a form of a testimonial from a reader who had lost weight and experienced great health benefits by adopting a similar diet in her life. On Bryant Stamford's recommendation, the reader had previously purchased The China Study, by T. Colin Campbell, and she strongly felt that the nutritional advice contained within that book had changed her life for the better.

As I read "The Body Shop" that morning, it was as if a light bulb had been switched on in my mind. It almost certainly had something to do with my over-indulgence from the night before, but I suddenly felt compelled to adopt a low-fat, plant-based diet in my own life. I immediately called Destinations Booksellers to order The China Study for myself. It arrived just a few days later, and I have been absorbed in it ever since.

The China Study is very interesting reading. I'm certain that I will want to discuss it in greater detail in a future CoffeeSpoons post. For now, it will suffice to say that it has convinced me to to seriously consider adopting a vegetarian lifestyle.

In a very short period of time, this book has convinced me that the proteins consumed in an animal-based diet may be extremely harmful to our health. As shocking as it may seem, there is an abundance of very sound scientific research showing that the consumption of animal proteins, even in fairly small amounts, greatly lessens our resistance to cancer and other undesirable maladies. If you decide to read The China Study, I think that you too will discover it to be a truly remarkable eye-opener.

It has now been eight days since I have ingested meat of any kind. I have also refrained from consuming milk. The primary feeling that I have experienced thus far is that of being cleansed. I have not experienced any feelings of weakness, as I had feared that I might. I have continued to work out with weights and on the elliptical trainer at the gym, and I feel certain that probably helps. I'm excited to see how I might progress from here.

At this point, I'm not yet willing to swear that I will become a vegetarian for the rest of my life. I am very seriously considering it though. I would be quite interested to hear the thoughts of any readers who may have experience with the vegetarian lifestyle.

Here's to your good health!

--The Meatbe