Those who play carry our pride

Published 12:00 am Sunday, April 6, 2008

The issue: Our city&8217;s relationship with its athletes.

Our take: Athletes, like industry, add to Selma&8217;s status.

Every city wants to be known for something.

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It usually turns out that an event, a cash crop, and industry or a person is the cornerstone upon which an area&8217;s reputation is built.

Not many people would know about Mosses had Ben Wallace not overcome odds and turned himself into one of the best players in the NBA.

People all over the state &8212; and college coaches all over the country, for that matter &8212; know about Uniontown because of the basketball talent that has been produced there over the years. Anyone who has seen Frankie Sullivan play would probably agree when he goes to Auburn, he will have people talking about his hometown in a whole new way.

Selma is the benchmark as far as athletes that are produced in the state.

Terry Leach made it to the major leagues and was a productive player for the world champion Minnesota Twins in 1991.

Today, young kids have pro athletes like Ben Obomanu to look up to, not because he is playing in the NFL, but because he excelled as a student on the way there.

The same can be said of Jai Miller, who had already locked up a scholarship to Stanford before he decided to take his shot in professional baseball.

After four years of beating the path that most minor leaguers take without realizing their dream, Miller is closer to the majors than ever.

When he makes it there and someone asks, &8220;Where are you from?&8221; the answer will be as big a boost as this city could ever hope for.

Sports are some of, if not the biggest sub-cultures in our society. They unite people who think they have no business being side by side.

They allowed Jackie Robinson and Larry Doby to begin the Civil Rights movement almost 20 years before anyone cared who Martin Luther King Jr. was.

They were people&8217;s mental escape from a world war and a depression.

They still remain as a distraction from 9-to-5 jobs that consume so much of our energy.

When athletes shine on the local, state or national level, people recognize they are from Selma and don&8217;t think of our city as a place where divisions destroy our chances to excel.

They try to imagine what a place that produced a talented, intelligent and respectful young person must be like.

When that inquiring person who asks where our young man or woman is from, they will likely think or say something to the effect of, &8220;Hmm, Selma? Really? What&8217;s that place like?&8221;

Is our young ambassador to tell them bluntly that none of the glorious history they see on television is a focal point? Would he or she dare tell them that Water Avenue falls down as a mess around our feet instead of being one of the jewels in the Queen City&8217;s crown? Or will they say that very few people in a position of influence, monetary or political, risk much to gain more for the people in their community?

Given that young people are prone to unabashed honesty, they probably will say that.

At that, we can also claim that we produce honest athletes.