Haverford and Bryn Mawr teams join boycott of South Carolina
By biconews On 8 Feb, 2000 At 05:00 AM | Categorized As Archives | With 0 Comments

By Greg Kannerstein

Courtesy of Haverford College

Haverford’s women’s tennis team went 16-3 last season and finished a strong second in the Centennial Conference, just another great season under Coach Ann Koger who has guided the fortunes of the Haverford female courtsters since she initiated the program back in 1981. But like any college tennis team, the Fords were lucky even to get their scores on the Philadelphia sports pages, given the mindset of sports editors and writers in the big city.

Now, however, Haverford women’s tennis is front-page news (as on Friday’s Philadelphia Inquirer, and several radio and TV stations) for some matches it will never play.

For about 12 years, the team has vanned down to Hilton Head Island for Spring Break, practicing and playing matches against other colleges also sojourning there.

This year, however, the players and coaches became aware of the demonstrations in South Carolina regarding the Confederate flag flying over the state capitol and the NAACP’s call for a boycott of the state.

Coach Koger brought the issue to the team and to the Haverford administration, and the decision was made not to travel to South Carolina this year. As Koger said. “I think the Confederate flag is an extremely-offensive symbol to African-Americans, and I am African-American (as are assistant coaches Valerie Howard and Bill Ballou). Whenever I think of the flag myself, I think of the Civil War, slavery and all the things that happened to my people and other people.”

“It’s flown, and not just in South Carolina,” Koger continued. “You can ride the streets of Philadelphia and see people with Confederate license plates and Confederate screening in the window of their car. That’s personal. But to fly the flag over the state capitol, that’s another

matter.”

Added Director of Athletics Greg Kannerstein, “Training in South Carolina would be a violation of Haverford’s long tradition of respect for all individuals. Haverford does not want to contribute to the tourist economy of a state which shows its disrepect to a large segment of its citizens through the flag it flies over its capitol.”

Kannerstein pointed out that the nature of the issue and the existence of an ongoing boycott influenced the College’s decision. “The issue for Haverford is, really, when do you make a stand?”

Temple University has also withdrawn its women’s tennis team from Hilton head matches while Bryn Mawr College will not send its tennis and lacrosse teams. Swarthmore, which sends several teams to South Carolina, is still considering whether to take action, while one other area college, Philadelphia University (formerly Philadelphia Textile) has decided not to abandon plans for its six tennis matches there. Well-known Temple men’s basketball coach John Chancy has been a leading voice in the movement to boycott South Carolina, and many Division I basketball conferences apparently will move their tournaments out of the state if the issue is not resolved by 2001.

Haverford’s women will be playing in even warmer weather - they’ve rescheduled their trip for Orlando, FL - but they will be sacrificing time and money for the principle. The College provides the basic expenses for lodging, room and board on spring trips, but as the team is travelling by plane, the players themselves must raise or contribute the funds.

Reporting by Greg Kannerstein, Director of Athletics at Haverford College.

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