Sunday, October 20, 2013

Tea Party Tigers?

I caution all sides to take care with their rhetoric over the Grambling football team - and let me take some runs to conclusion of the varied sides of these events.

At the start of collegiate athletics, it truly was a volunteer, student oriented sport in which teams opted in and out of seasons. The was no guarantee that teams would show for contests.

Of course, the modern era carries with it certain obligations. This is what the administrators of universities and conferences will imply.  The national media will split between student rights and what is right for the school.

And there is the rub.

Eddie Robinson is likely spinning in his grave . . . furious at both sides of this equation. Coach Rob would not have tolerated the level of insubordination from his team. Discipline was a hallmark of a Grambling man.  For that matter, neither would have the Tigers legendary basketball coaches.

But before invoking the soul of one of America's coaching legends, he would have never let his players endure some of the treatment they have received. Grambling without the era of Robinson has fallen into disrepair. If the photos and health reports are to be believed, this is a rough situation.

Standing up for principle - I'm sure that is how the football team sees it.  Even if it cost Jackson State a homecoming.  Hundreds of thousands of dollars in revenue.  Even if it threatens a bedrock institution of the SWAC, of HBCUs - the Bayou Classic.  That annual game at the Superdome with a national NBC broadcast audience is millions on the line.

See where this is headed?

The Republicans "shut down" the government - mainly caused great inconveniences - because the Democrats and the President wouldn't negotiate.

So the players have shut down the Tiger football program - because the administration won't meet their demands. Clean uniforms, modern accommodations.

Which moral side can you take based on your feeling about the last month of politics? Does that make them the Tea Party Tigers? Or the John Carlos and Tommy Smith of their generation?

Ah, what of those lofty goals of amateurism.

Don't go there too fast. Because these young men signed scholarships to perform as college football players in return for education.

So they are obligated to play.  To represent Grambling.


Because the are schedules. And contracts. And television. And revenue generation on the line.  Without the financial engine of football, there is very little else in college sport portfolios that can finance the other teams.

Well now, somewhere in California, Ed O'Bannon is smiling. In the Midwest, the Drake Commission is grinning ear to ear.

You say those boys HAVE to get on the bus? HAVE to play the game? Because of their obligation?

Sounds like one legal brief away from uncompensated employment. Perhaps a labor dispute over working conditions.

Every case is unique, but let's suppose that Grambling disciplines the players in some way. Will that squelch the movement? If they don't, what happens with the next Rutgers basketball team situation?

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