The racial awakening in America continues.
More and more of my white brothers and sisters have been coming to defense of my fellow black people. People of all colors, ethnicities and religious backgrounds are still protesting here — and around the world.
Fortune 500 companies such as Ben and Jerry’s have put out statements of inclusion and support for the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement. A lot of those same companies have pledged to increase diversity in their hiring practices.
The sports world has responded in kind.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodevil said his league believes that “black lives matter” (Goodevil has even gone out and encouraged the idea of signing Colin Kaepernick). Not only has NASCAR stated the same, the racing league banned the Confederate flag EFFECTIVE IMMEDIATELY.
There have been prominent college coaches such as UNC’s Mack Brown and Roy Williams, Duke’s David Cutcliffe, and Kentucky’s John Calipari that have given statements supporting inclusion and racial equality. Others, unfortunately, have been slow to respond.
Clemson’s Dabo Swinney, who was quick to condemn Colin Kaepernick and other athletes who knelt during the National Anthem, was not only VERY slow in his response, he basically said a whole lot of nothing. Now I will give him credit for participating during a BLM rally in Clemson last weekend, though he still said a whole lot of nothing there as well.
And then you have major college coaches being plain “stuck on stupid”. Enter Oklahoma State’s Mike Gundy.
He took a photo of himself wearing an OAN t-shirt a few days ago. Now what is ‘OAN’, you ask? OAN stands for One America News, a far-right news network that has been known to promote conspiracy theories and is often cited by President Donald Trump. The network fancies itself as a place for a pro-Trump audience that believes other conservative news outlets have become too mainstream in their reporting.
Oh, and OAN’s on-air network commentators have been critical of the Black Lives Matter movement. Gundy wore THAT organization’s t-shirt. Bad optics, dude.
OSU running back Chuba Hubbard, the nation’s leading rusher last season, was understandably pissed off and voiced his concerns over social media. Many of the current and former OSU players also voiced their concerns over Gundy, with the current players saying they will not practice and participate in team-related activities until Gundy’s actions were addressed.
While Gundy and Hubbard have talked and appeared to have worked something out, something STILL needs to change with the tone-deafness of white college coaches. Student-athletes need to know that they have a lot of power and can leverage it to create change.
One big way to get some attention is to leave the major football and basketball programs at these predominately white institutions (PWIs) and start enrolling at historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs).
PWIs were able to make millions of dollars thanks to huge contracts from ESPN and Fox Sports. The great play of those college athletes made the SEC, Big Ten and ACC Networks happen. They allowed coaches such as Swinney and Gundy to accrue generational wealth and insane amounts of power at their respective universities.
Now imagine those players at the likes of North Carolina A&T, Winston-Salem State, Grambling State, Southern, Florida A&M and North Carolina Central. They would put more butts in the seats, which would lead to more money for those schools. It could also be parlayed into bigger exposure for HBCUs. And more importantly, those athletes would be in more comfortable environments where they wouldn’t worry about coaches wearing OAN t-shirts and having to petition those schools to take down racist statues and rename buildings named after former slave holders and white supremacists.
So if coaches at PWIs REALLY want to be on the right side of history and be agents of change, they better do right by these athletes. As I said before, they don’t have that general wealth and power without those student-athletes.
As Fox Sports One’s Chris Broussard’s grandfather once said, “money doesn’t just talk, it HOLLERS!”