The mainstream sports media has been dogging NFL Hall of Famer Deion Sanders for two weeks, ever since he called a white TV reporter named Brett Shipp an "African-American killer" during a November 14 radio interview. Shipp has been obsessively covering allegations that the former All-Pro defensive back illegally recruited kids to play for Prime Prep, his private charter school in Dallas.
Immediately, Shipp's peers accused Deion of making it about his skin color. For instance, Yahoo! Sports high school athletics columnist Cameron Smith wrote, "Deion Sanders officially lost it. His response was to play the race card."
No, he hasn't. Sanders is absolutely right. Before his school even opened its doors, Prime Prep has been receiving an unfair amount of scrutiny just because of his involvement. The negative press has destroyed Prime Prep's athletic program before it even got off the ground.
In August, a Dallas school district committee disqualified Prime Prep from all athletics this year. Earlier this month, three basketball players were declared ineligible because they transferred from Grace Prep, an Arlington school with a top basketball program. The trio was accused of transferring for "athletic reasons."
Meanwhile, there are no exposés on the hundreds of private schools in football-rich states like Texas and Florida that illegally recruit student athletes. High schools such as St. Thomas Aquinas in Fort Lauderdale, Belen Jesuit in West Miami-Dade, and Christopher Columbus in Westchester are always recruiting inner-city kids.
Private schools have the luxury of promising parents the "best education" possible for Little Johnny Football. That's how parents fall into their trap. A prime example is Michael Irvin, another Hall of Famer, who was a star at the University of Miami. Irvin was attending Piper High in Sunrise when St. Thomas recruited him. Despite having 17 brothers and sisters, Irvin was the only one offered an academic scholarship.
But when a controversial black celebrity wants to offer children a better education, he can't be trusted. Suddenly, reporters can't wait to expose him for doing what private schools fielding nationally competitive athletic programs do every day. Deion is being lynched before the starting whistle.
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