"Leveling the Playing Field" tells the story of the African American members of the 1969-70 SU football team who petitioned for racial equality on their team. The petition had four demands: access to the same academic tutoring made available to their white teammates; better medical care for all team members; starting assignments based on merit rather than race; and a discernible effort to racially integrate the coaching staff, which had been all white since 1898. The players charges of racial disparity were fiercely contested by many of the white players on the team, and the debate spilled into the newspapers and drew protests from around the country. Mistakenly called the "Syracuse 8" by media reports in the 1970s, the nine players who signed the petition did not receive a response allowing or even acknowledging their demands. They boycotted the Spring 1970 practice and Coach Ben Schwartzwalder, a deeply beloved figure on campus and a Hall of Fame football coach nearing retirement after 24 years, banned seven of the players from the team. White players staged a day-long walkout in support of the Syracuse staff, and an enhanced police presence was required at home games. "Blackballed: The True Story of the Syracuse 8" takes a frank look at this contentious moment in Syracuse University s history and tells the story through the eyes of the players who risked their futures for racial equality."
Leveling the Playing Field
Syracuse University Press
The Story of the Syracuse Eight