Like most sports fans who grew up inside the beltway in the 1970s, I rooted for the University of Maryland. Rooted hard. The Terps basketball teams under Lefty Driesell were as lovable and entertaining as any local squad in any sport in my lifetime —- where have you gone, Ernie Graham? —- and I screamed for ’em through what I remember as last-second loss after last-second loss after last-second loss to Dean Smith. (Coach K is more despicable than Smith, for sure, but I’m too old and burned out by those years to work up the same bile for him that I had for Smith.)
But, after getting sorta immersed in the Terps’ athletic and racial history over the last few months while preparing a story about a guy named Wilmeth Sidat-Singh for this week’s issue, it’s hard to feel anything but hate for the school and the state.
Historically, Maryland might have the worst combination of a liberal veneer and a racist foundation of any state in the union. You don’t have to know much more than what happened to Sidat-Singh back in 1937 to figure that out.
Rather than retell the whole story here, let’s just say a whole lotta people should be burning in hell for the way the state’s flagship university denied Sidat-Singh a chance to play ball because he was the wrong kind of black.
Sidat-Singh was 19 years old at the time.
Sure, it was a long time ago. But, far as I can tell, the school has not only never apologized for the organized and contractual hate it directed at the teenager — it’s never even acknowledged any wrongdoing.
Somebody in the administration in College Park or the statehouse in Annapolis should step up.