From an Old Jock to Young Jocks at the U of A

by on October 6, 2020 · 1 comment

in From the Soul, Sports

From an Old Jock to Young Jocks at the U of A

by Ernie McCray

Hey, you Wildcats!
I write this
after co-hosting
a fundraiser
for a candidate for City Council
in my town
who’s totally devoted
to social justice
and equality
for everyone
no matter their ethnicity,
color or creed
or background.

And as I write,

I can remember days

in Bear Down Gym

at the U of A

doing something like, say,

grabbing a rebound

and whirling around

and whipping the first pass

that kicked off the fast break

that was going down

as Arizona Wildcat fans

stamped their feet

and clapped their hands


“Ernie, Ernie!

He’s our man!

If he can’t do it!

Nobody can!”

Made me feel like a drum major

leading a band.

You’d think

I was living

in a fantasy land

but you have to understand

all that cheering came to an end

when I showered

and stepped outside

in the real world,

on Sonoran Desert sand,

a world that deemed me

as “less than,”

a world where

I could be just strutting

down the street

with Black swag,

maybe after basketball practice

heading home

humming and singing

a few 50’s

R&B hit songs

like I was

Ray Charles

or Johnny Ace

and all of a sudden


rolls up on me

in his black and white

shining a bright flashlight

in my face,

giving me a wary look

as though

I had just robbed

a bank –

while carrying a poli sci

and a sociology book.

But this old

basketball hero

took a stand against

old Jim Crow,

but both the university

and Tucson, the Old Pueblo,

were slow

in dedicating their energy

to a better world

for all folks.

But, oh,

you young people,

under the leadership

of the athletic department

at the U of A

are creating the kind of loving world

my generation

kept at bay

and that blows me away

in the nicest of ways

seeing you young athletes

being given a voice,

a platform

to address

fostering a diverse


socially just society

where trust can grow

between people,

seeing you

reading and conversing

and dissecting

what has happened

to the Breonna Taylors

and George Floyds

in our country

so that you might eventually

bring an end

to such race-based


exploring ideas

and learning from each other

and today’s realities,

developing as leaders,

strong of mind and body…

I would have given anything

to take part in something

like you’re experiencing

back in my day.

You’re special

and much needed

in our world today

and you make me proud

to be associated

with the U of A.

“Bear Down!”

is the last thing

I have to say.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Thomas Gayton October 14, 2020 at 7:29 pm



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