Grambling State’s football team did not play Saturday. They have boycotted three practices, up to today, and did not show up to travel to Jackson State. If you need summary of what caused this, check this video:
What’s happening to the athletes at Grambling is horrible. These guys are putting their bodies and health on the line for a university that is in financial trouble. They are getting a scholarship, but I’m positive that these conditions are effecting their ability to learn and achieve in their classes. Which is why the NCAA says these scholarships are there, right? For access to higher education. What we also have is a larger story about the media, particularly ESPN, and the NCAA. The buzzword this year has been “player safety”. The targeting penalty was sold as a bold step in direction of looking out for the student athlete. The NCAA and referee’s have been on countless broadcasts to talk about how the ejection and 15 yard penalty will clean up bad actors. I hope that someone talks about the 15 yards which gave Vandy the 1st down cost UGA a W on Saturday. But I digress. I contend that the whole targeting BS is just a CYA. The NCAA and member institutions had to come up with this to provide a concrete action against any lawsuit that players, like Ryan Swope, will certainly bring concerning concussion protocols. This is NOT about player safety. This is about university revenues. Here is a case in point.
College Football Final is probably the premier college football show. It is on ESPN and runs several times a day. They have a recurring segment called “Final Verdict”. This is a “debate” between Mark May and Lou Holtz. Rece Davis, UA alum, then renders a verdict and sides with one argument or the other. During the most recent version of this, Holtz criticized the Grambling players for refusing to play on Saturday. He said it was their job to play regardless of the conditions because they were taking a scholarship. May took the side of the players and recited their list of issues. He mainly focused on the numerous cases of staph infection contracted at the athletic faculties. Let’s watch and I’ll add my takes:
0:27 Cheerleaders cheer. Writers write. And old men ramble. We got it.
0:38 The first mention of the real problem here. Money.
1:03 This has nothing to do with Eddie Robinson. This is about the president and athletic director and their hold on power at that school.
1:09 So its the players fault that they have to ride a bus. If the players would have performed better and won, then they wouldn’t have this problem.
1:20 Holtz: Don’t make your school and coaches look bad. That is more important than your health or your ability to get an education.
1:59 Its unsafe and unclean. But, but, but, player safety. But, but, student athlete.
2:15 Remember, facility conditions and Doug Williams trying to improve them is the main catalyst for his firing.
2:29 Holtz is having a tremendous Oldtimer’s attack. The players met with the president and AD on Tuesday and boycotted 3 practices last week. This was not a surprise to anyone that was paying attention. Hey Lou, wake up. Do you have narcolepsy or something?
2:48 Rece, do you have poisoning from too much eyeliner? Mark May said they were getting infections!!! Their objective is not for you to talk about it for 3 minutes and 43 seconds on your show. Its so they will stop getting sick.
3:01 Rece: Grambling should ashamed for their actions, as long we don’t really hold them accountable. Because this show and all the millions that ESPN makes is about football games not the student athletes.
3:17 Rece: There has to be another way for ESPN to make their money AND these kids stop complaining. Come on GSU, just make it stop.
3:21 Rece: But we have a long record of supporting players as long as they know their role. We aren’t going to actually buck the system. But we support the players, kinda. Somewhat. Mostly. On paper.
3:33 Holtz: I just dogged these players out, but I want to save some shred of credibility. I may be an old man that made a tremendous amount of money off the efforts of young men, but I have integrity.
3:40 What this really comes down to is the school is above everything else.
The players only have 1 option. They can perform or not. Its funny when something goes wrong at a circus, then folks blame the people in control and not the animals. Here the situation is completely different. The players have ZERO control over the facility, the coaches, or the administration. They have ZERO control over how the revenue is spent or raised. All they can do is perform or not. When they exercise their ONLY option, then one of the most popular shows on the most powerful sports network blames the young men. Its all about the Ben’s.