Black Athletes and the National Anthem: Or…Making White Folk Uncomfortable

I’ve managed to avoid really getting into political posts recently, with the occasional exception of humorous remarks about Trump and a few other issues. I realize how passionate some people are about Trump and probably moreso worked up in their disdain for Hillary Clinton. And that’s fine. But I’ve actually had people I considered good friends at one point or other de-friend me on Facebook, evidently because they didn’t like what I was saying or how I was saying it. It sucked and it made me pull back on making political posts because, frankly, it’s just not worth it to lose friends simply because have different political views.

And I’ve posted at length on this particular topic before—black athletes kneeling during the National Anthem…but hearing what this athlete, Michael Rose-Ivey, at the University of Nebraska, has gone through since he and two of his teammates kneeled in solidarity with Colin Kaepernick during the National Anthem of a recent football game really made me angry. The N-word??? He should be lynched before the National Anthem at the next game???? (Here is the link: http://www.rawstory.com/2016/09/fans-wanted-me-hung-before-the-anthem-emotional-nebraska-football-player-reveals-racist-threats/comments/#disqus)

Seriously: WHAT IS IT about a person who doesn’t adhere to this proscribed etiquette about our nation’s anthem that enrages people to make death threats and resort to name calling, and namely, using the N-word??? I want to know. Watch the video linked here, or just read the quotes in the article, at least. This isn’t a person who “hates” America. This isn’t a person who should just “keep his mouth shut”. This isn’t a person who should be “grateful” he’s got a scholarship and be content to quietly keep all of you white folk entertained with his athletic prowess. This is a person, and this is a people, who I believe are sincere in their angst over injustices Black America has endured throughout this country’s history.

And please, just shut the fuck up about Chicago in your inevitable response. “But, but, but, but what about Chicago and black on black crime!!!! Why don’t they kneel against that??? Chicago, I tell you!!! CHICAGO!!!! CHICAGO!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I’M AN ANGRY WHITE MAN TELLING BLACK PEOPLE HOW TO PRIORITIZE!!!! CHICAGOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!”

Okay, deep breath, Brian…

It’s been my observation that the VAST MAJORITY of people expressing “outrage” over black athletes kneeling during the National Anthem are WHITE. And I say VAST MAJORITY because I’m sure some fuck is out there right now ready to link to some black conservative who agrees with them. Don’t bother. That’s the exception, not the rule. There’s just no denying the indignant response of certain white people when they see black people not adhering to what they see as “acceptable” behavior toward our Nation’s symbols. I mean, I get it: we as white people want to believe we’ve righted the wrongs of our ancestors when Lincoln freed the slaves, or when the Civil Rights Act was legislated, or when Barack Obama was elected President. Discovering that there’s still work to be done when it comes to race relations and being reminded that ours is not nearly the perfect union we imagine it to be can be unsettling. But try empathizing or seeing America through their eyes. These black athletes who are kneeling aren’t committing crimes, their not cheating in school, they—to me, at least—seem very thoughtful and sincere. And while I’ll never pretend to “feel their pain” or understand what it’s like to be Black in America, I accept their sincerity and their frustration. If kneeling during the National Anthem is a means by which they choose to facilitate an important discussion in this country, I PRAISE THEM. If I had half a nerve, I would kneel in solidarity with them the next time I was in public during the National Anthem.

And wouldn’t that be a grand experience. Even worse than a black person kneeling during the National Anthem, but a traitor to my own race, eh?

I’ll be honest, I’ve not been comfortable with what I see as “patriot shaming”, i.e., calling someone out because they are not “properly” honoring the symbols of this Nation. “Are you standing straight enough??? TRAITOR!!!” “Is your hand on your heart? TRAITOR!!!!” “Are you facing in the right direction? TRAITOR!!!!”  Patriotism should come from within, not be imposed from without. Try asking 1930s Germany how that turned out.

Alright. I think I’m done. If this offends you, it offends you. I’d prefer you not unfriend me, but if you can’t handle my passion on this issue, so be it. I’m just asking you to consider that black athletes have a legitimate motive for their actions in kneeling during the National Anthem. It does NOT warrant death threats or the N-word. They shouldn’t just “shut up” and be “grateful”; they shouldn’t have to refrain from making YOU feel uncomfortable about your country.

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BPR’s thoughts on the Big XII Spring Meetings

What I took away from this week’s developments is the following:

• A football championship game increases the odds of expansion significantly. (NOTE: I’m just saying it increases the odds significantly, NOT that it makes it inevitable.) A round robin schedule that guarantees a rematch among ten teams is asinine and that will quickly become apparent (if it’s not already).

• The pro rata that Big XII Commissioner Bob Bowlsby confirmed exists and the means of divvying that new money (by giving the newcomers a smaller cut initially and splitting the rest among everyone else) only makes expansion much more enticing.

• No traditional TV network completely changes the paradigm of how you select expansion candidates, because it’s no longer about the TV market you can allegedly bring to the conference. Goodbye UConn, UCF, and USF. The Florida schools may continue to hold out the vain hope that they can still bring a fertile recruiting base to the conference, but that’s a pipe dream.

• No traditional TV network also means that no P5 school will defect to the Big XII in any circumstance, now. Why would an Arkansas, Florida State, or even a Nebraska ever consider leaving the guaranteed equal share of their respective conferences to come over only to immediately make less money than Texas? Sure, any of them could leverage their own third tier rights and probably make as much as Oklahoma…but that’s still less than half of what Texas pulls. Had there been a Big XII network with the Longhorns rolled in and everybody pulling an equal share, it might have been possible for an Arkansas or FSU to consider a change, but certainly not now.

• Expansion candidates will now be vetted based primarily off the school’s brand and football/athletics competitiveness and overall fit. This vaults BYU back up to the top spot (if it ever really dropped far). Nobody can realistically argue that they are not already a P5 caliber athletics program (see: BYU beating OU and Texas in football recently). They are Big XII Team Number Eleven, in my book.

• I’m wondering if the pro rata allows for bringing in just one team, because it’s intriguing to consider just bringing in BYU and calling it a day, at least for a couple years. They’re the one program everybody could agree would bring a quality athletics program in, and if the Big Ten got by scheduling 11 teams for 20 years, there’s no reason the Big XII can’t do the same for a few years until they decide on the twelfth team.

• Houston is back in the mix based off it’s recent (not just last year) success. Whether the Big XII already “owns” the Houston market is a moot point, now. See what Boren said about fans wanting to watch games against quality opponents. Both Cougar schools are definitely that, and any Sooners fans who are acting like they’re not looking forward to the chance to pound Houston all the way back to Conference USA in September are full of it. Quality games also includes the history Houston has with the other Texas schools; who are Longhorns fans, TCU fans, etc going to get more excited about playing should there be expansion: Cincinnati, or Houston? Houston is my second expansion pick. (If adding a fifth Texas school is ultimately deemed too much, then Cincinnati is my alternate.)

• I still maintain that Oklahoma and Texas can’t just bail on the conference without significant political resistance within their respective state legislature’s about leaving OSU and Tech behind. Some may argue that A&M got out just fine, but they weren’t the flagship school of their state, nor did their departure cause the conference to collapse. (Nebraska, Missouri, and Colorado, for that matter, did not have in-conference brethren they were leaving behind, so there was never any political fight to be had.) OU and Tx leaving on their own effectively reduces their states’ Power 5 schools from two to one (in Oklahoma) and from five to two in Texas (Tx and A&M). (The same applies for KU and K-State.) The political resistance in both states’ (three, including Kansas) to such a move will be fiercer than anybody really is accounting for.

• Finally, this leads to the most realistic option for Texas and Oklahoma leaving the conference after the GoR expires, which is basically what they had the chance to do at the beginning of all this: take their state schools and go west, to the Pac. This forms a logical eastern division of the Texas and Oklahoma schools, the Arizona schools, Utah, and Colorado. I know the Az schools will hate it because they’ll be cut off from California, but they’d have to adapt by recruiting in Texas, instead. This allows Tx and OU to both leave the conference with minimal political blowback (though TCU and Baylor will fight in vain to stop it). If Tx and OU leave the conference in nine years, that is how it will happen.