City Desk

Cheap Seats Daily: Evan Bayh Takes a Shot at the Town His Grandpa Helped Build

In announcing yesterday that he was leaving the U.S. Senate, Evan Bayh (D-IN) took some time to trash D.C.:

"If Washington, D.C., could be more like Indiana, Washington would be a better place," Bayh said.

That's just not nice. Forget what jurisdiction he represents in Congress: Bayh's a D.C. kid — he went to high school at  St. Albans, for crissakes, not Milan High.

And D.C.'s a place his family helped build. The departing senator's full name is Birch Evan Bayh III; his grandfather, Birch E. Bayh Sr., was hired in 1935 as the head of the department of physical education and health for the white schools in the D.C. public school system.

He stayed in charge of the city's schoolboy and schoolgirl athletic scene for 30 years.

During his tenure running school sports, the eldest Bayh opened up intramural athletic programs in the junior high and high schools, urged the city to open more parks to keep kids from playing in the street, instituted driver and sex education programs, eliminated spring football practice and, eventually, oversaw the integration of the Interhigh Division I, the athletic league for white schools, and Interhigh Division II, for "colored" schools — a process that began in before the 1954-1955 academic year with the Supreme Court's ruling in Brown v. Board of Education.

Shortly after taking the D.C. schools' post, Bayh Sr. delivered his credo on proper sports etiquette:

"The child needs to learn from his athletic participation that it is possible to be as gentlemanly on the athletic field as in the parlor," Bayh said, according to a 1936 story in the Washington Post, "that his gentleman's honor will not permit him to deviate from the rules of the game, no matter how his opponents may act, that respect for officials is equally obligatory; that it is better to be a good sportsman than merely a good athlete; that it is a greater victory to win the respect and admiration of an opponent to to win a game from him; that every victory won by unfair or unsportsmanlike tactics is a disgrace rather than an honor; that in every game, except in case of a tie, one team must be on the losing end; and that it is no disgrace to lose, provided the game has been played fairly and evenly."

I'm not sure which phrase in Bayh's manifesto, which was foisted on several generations of D.C. kids, is the quaintest — "gentlemanly," "in the parlor," "honor," "respect and admiration," "played fairly" or "in case of a tie."

After further review, I'll go with "in case of a tie" as the quaintest.

(AFTER THE JUMP: Give up on the Wiz? Minority swimming VIPs were in town? There are minority swimming VIPs?)

Bayh Sr. said bye bye to his D.C. schools job in 1965. By then, Evan's dad, Birch Bayh Jr., who also grew up in our fine city, was in Congress.

Love us or leave us, Evan!

***

In the Examiner, Rick Snider has advice for D.C. sports fans: "Don't waste your time" on the Wizards for a while.

"The Washington Wizards just became officially unwatchable," Snider says, in the wake of the team's giving away Caron Butler and Brendan Haywood to Dallas for surly back-benchers.

Really hard to argue with Snider's counsel.

***

I stopped by the Takoma Aquatic Center over the weekend, where the annual Black History Invitational Swim Meet was being held.

That event was founded 24 years ago by the D.C. Department of Parks and Recreation to promote competitive swimming in the city. The sport has been on the outs among public school kids in town for decades. Some folks theorize the lack of black role models is at least partially responsible for the swimming's sorry state here when compared to the local and mostly white suburbs.

In hopes of getting word out that there really are black competitors at the highest levels of swimming, during the opening ceremonies meet organizers introduced: Maritza Correia, a multiple world champ who in 2004 became the first black swimmer to represent the USA in the Olympics; Sabir Muhammad, who earned All-American honors swimming for Stanford in the 1990s; and, Byron Davis, a former U.S. record holder in the 50-meter butterfly.

Take that, Al Campanis!

***

Story tips? Wanna Play the Feud? Tube amps for sale? Send to: cheapseats@washingtoncitypaper.com.

Blog Widget by LinkWithin
  • …done

    THANK YOU for calling out Bayh. His fake Indiana-ness while ignoring his upper eschelon prep-school Congresskid privileged background is quintessential WASHINGTON. What a douche bag.

    **

    need to point out that the lack of blacks in swimming is a direct result of segregation. There are no "role models" for a reason.

...