Nelson Mandela, Black Lives Matter and college football

Greg Sankey opened the door and this al.com writer walked on through.

Is there anywhere else in our society where the lives of a few young black men mean more to so many white people than the end zone of an SEC football team on a Saturday in the fall?

If you’re being honest, then the answer is no.

I don’t disagree, but I’m not sure how much that does, in and of itself, for Sankey’s aspirations.

“Nelson Mandela once said, and I quote,” Slive repeated, “‘sport has the power to change the world, it has the power to inspire, it has the power to unite people in a way that little else does.'”

Mandela said those words in 2000 in Monaco at the inaugural ceremony for the Laureus World Sports Awards. The SEC wants those words to sink in.

“If you read through those remarks,” Sankey said on Monday, “at the end he says something even more important, I think: ‘Peace is the greatest weapon mankind has to resolve even the most intractable difficulties.

“‘But to be an effective agent for peace, you have to seek not only to change the community and the world. What is more difficult is to change yourself before you seek to change others. Only those who have the courage to change themselves and to know that in all communities without exception there are good men and women who want to serve their communities.'”

Have there been gains achieved through sports?  Sure, but they’re limited and mostly for selfish reasons.  Bear Bryant’s famous decision to integrate the Alabama football team after getting steamrolled by Southern Cal wasn’t motivated by a desire to change society, but rather by a realization that in order to win at the highest level, Alabama was going to have to have black football players.

Right around the same time Bryant made his decision, we saw one of the most iconic images in the history of American sports.

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The reaction to that picture was decidedly more antagonistic.  Much the same can be said about the response to the threatened boycott last season by Missouri football players.

No question that Sankey’s motives do him credit, but I wonder what we’re doing when we push college athletics forward as a vehicle to save the world.  I’m not sure they’re sturdy enough to survive those sorts of expectations.

76 Comments

Filed under College Football

76 responses to “Nelson Mandela, Black Lives Matter and college football

  1. @gatriguy

    Senator, I think you might shatter your record for comments today.

  2. @gatriguy

    It is the low tide point of the sports calendar. Do your thing.

  3. The other Doug

    Sankey and the rest of the Home Office must feel like they have to walk this tight rope because the threat of a strike or something similar is real. Mizzou taught them that these things are real and the coaches won’t do anything to stop it. The best thing for Sankey and the SEC Boys is to create the image that they are the friend not the enemy.

    I’d love to believe they are being driven by a moral compass, but let’s be honest, they don’t want the loss of revenue that comes with canceled games.

  4. @gatriguy

    This is true. Best UGA blog on the interwebs and it’s not close.

  5. Jared S.

    As a middle-class, plain-vanilla white guy, I’m not sure I have any amazing or profound insight into these issues. Even though I – like everyone – has an opinion on matters related to race, I also realize that I – like everyone – is prejudiced in some degree because of my particular life situation. I think it’s hard for any one person to have a “correct” view on matters regarding race because of the prejudices that we will always have however much we try to rid ourselves of them or pretend like they’re not there.

    That’s why dialogue is so important. Different sides with different perspectives truly talking to one another and trying to understand where the other side is coming from. It’s essential if we’re going to live together without hurting each other.

    All that being said, I think it’s very tricky for a college sports entity to try to be a positive agent of change with regard to racial understanding and reconciliation. But that isn’t to say they shouldn’t try. I applaud any person or organization that recognizes that prejudice does (and will always) exist and it doesn’t do anyone any good to pretend like it isn’t there. It’s something we should always be talking about and trying to work through. Both in terms of how it effects individuals and entire classes of people.

  6. Bright Idea

    Race doesn’t matter on SEC Saturdays because everybody in the stadium has the same agenda…win the damn game. Once we leave the ballpark everybody is back to looking out for themselves.

    • illini84

      Except for the folks who vote against their own interests!

    • doofusdawg

      Exactly. It’s too bad everyone can’t get behind America like they do their favorite sports team. But then again there are plenty on the left who think that football should be abolished too.

      • Derek

        Explain what “get behind America” means please.

        I think that you could point out plenty of examples from both sides of the political divide where people are talking bad about Americans or America. For example, the entire premise of Trump’s campaign is that America is no longer great. I call that an absence of patriotism (and without any basis in fact.). The difference between America and whoever the fuck is second has never been greater. Since the Roman Empire there hasn’t been a greater difference between #1 and #2 than what we have today. That’s just the facts.

        America doesn’t need to be made great. America is great. If you disagree, then why can’t you just “get behind America?”

        • doofusdawg

          The Senator’s article was linking college football and blm. My two sentence comment was in response to an excellent point made by Bright Idea comparing the way different peoples unite behind their favorite sports team but don’t unite behind the country as a hole.

          But thanks for making it about Trump and my own ignorance. And yes I look forward to voting for Trump as do most of the people I know. Go Dawgs and God Bless the USA!

          • Don in Mar-a-Lago

            Thanks. No way could I pull this off without doofus and most of the people he knows.

          • Dolly Llama

            I’ll unite behind the country asshole!

            Oh, wait. Misread that. Nevermind.

            • doofusdawg

              Glad you remember me… doofus lives matter.

            • doofusdawg

              That’s pretty dam funny. Wish this place had an edit function.

              • Macallanlover

                doofus, please be more discriminating when you invite people to “get behind America”, many here aren’t on our side. They attended the “G__ D___ America church, and have been shamed of America all their lives. Most of them apparently weren’t even alive when America was strong and on solid ground.

                Now with $20T in current debt, they are for opening the floodgates at the borders, inviting the world to come on over for free goods, promising free education, free healthcare, and you can send your money home abroad to your family with no obligation to pay taxes. What could be better? It’s like a five year old’s finest dream…cake and ice cream for everyone. Isn’t America wonderful. Sure, we are real strong, on very solid ground, what a bunch of naive fools. Problem is, the flakes are running the asylum. Don’t wake the up from their fantasy, but better yet, don’t invite them over…let them get crushed when this house of cards falls in on them.

                • Dolly Llama

                  And a “Haaa … rumph” to you too, sir.

                • Derek

                  The national debt was 106% of gdp after WWII. It’s 75% today. As you know, America sucked after WWII.

                  This isn’t to suggest that being responsive to debt isn’t important. However, the doom and gloom is just typical stupidity.

                  • Cojones

                    Let’s work hard to get the shitheads out of Congress who are holding this country back – back to the 1880s. The only thing missing is gunfights in the streets…..oh….wait….

          • Derek

            You suggested that the left won’t get behind America. You said it. I responded to it.

            Since you’re a Trump voter: Why do you hate America and think that it sucks?

            Personally I think it’s great. Perhaps I’m blinded by patriotism.

        • Hardcoredawg 93

          ” The difference between America and whoever the fuck is second has never been greater. Since the Roman Empire there hasn’t been a greater difference between #1 and #2 than what we have today. That’s just the facts.”

          You do realize that is an opinion, no?

        • Reinmart

          “The difference between America and whoever the fuck is second has never been greater.”

          I think you are living about 10-20 years in the past but that is another story for another day.

          • Hardcoredawg 93

            No, no, no, didn’t you read above? He came up with an undisputed fact, not an opinion.

          • Derek

            Explain how I’m wrong. We spend more on defense than the next 6 countries combined. Our GDP dwarfs every other country. Who’s second and why/how are they closer now than before?

            Again since the collapse of the Roman Empire, no country has been so central to economic stability of the world than the USA is right now.

            You can hate on your country all you like, but he facts and the numbers and the realities don’t lie.

            • Cojones

              And neither did Obama, accomplishing all of what he ran on and with a Congress filibustering his every effort. Wow. What an intelligent and learned man can do for his country under extreme circumstances of backward-looking and thinking he has been presented with.

              Black lives matter such that it is a pleasure to perceive that he and his family will have SS protection for the rest of their lives. Wish we would make that true of all lives, especially those in uniform and in harm’s way for the rest of us.

  7. Macallanlover

    ‘Limited gains for selfish reasons’, well said. The real shame of this is why no one has been able to exploit this opportunity to build something really significant from this opening. Beyond some very limited close friendships, it hasn’t just hasn’t gained any macro traction. Mandela was right, and he demonstrated the potential of this powerful opportunity. The current president also had a chance to do something special in this area but has actually moved the ball in the wrong direction. Things are more fractured than ever, not as hopeless as the Palestinian homeland issue but given the lack of leadership on both sides, it seems unlikely that the situation will continue to deteriorate. Sad times.

  8. Gurkha Dawg

    I’ll get the comments going. I’m a WASP 1%er and have a question. What’s all the fuss about?

  9. @gatriguy

    Trymp’s “Make America Great Again” is really “Make America Great For White Men Again”.

  10. W Cobb Dawg

    Sooo sankey is hinting we’re expanding the sec to add Grambling and Florida A&M?

  11. Debby Balcer

    No wonder we can’t grow beyond where we are today when a thoughtful blog post by the Senator quickly dissolves into the same rhetoric about how one side has the right answer. We had some deep thinkers on our team we can learn from starting with Benjamin Watson. Chris Conley and Malcolm Mitchell would be people to hear from too. Start listening instead of spouting talking points.

    • Don in Mar-a-Lago

      There is too much air in the horn section.

      • Hardcoredawg 93

        Got it. You don’t like Trump.

        Have anything interesting to say that is relevant to the Senator’s topic or do you just like to link up social media posts?

      • Debby Balcer

        Local elections have more of an impact on a person’s life.

        • Derek

          Tell that to the mothers of the soldiers who died in Iraq. I don’t think the local board of education could have made decisions that cost their son’s lives but maybe my assessment of impact is different than yours.

          • Debby Balcer

            If you elect a sheriff law enforcement decisions are decided by those you elect those are matters of life and death. As an Army brat and wife of a soldier for 7 years your answer is disingenuous. All soldiers today are volunteers and knew what they signed up for. But go ahead and spout your talking point instead of engaging in constructive solutions.

            • Derek

              I’m just saying that decisions about going to war are “impactful.” If you disagree that’s fine. If you think my assertion that going to war is impactful is a talking point, whatever. If you think that local officials make more impactful decisions than war making, fine. If you think volunteer means that the commander in chief can be reckless in his use of force because the guys who put their lives on the line knew that the American people were capable of electing an idiot, I just disagree with that. I still think that we should expect good sound decisions. It’s noteworthy that the GOP nominee to be says that going to Iraq was really stupid. That’s the smartest thing he’s ever said. But maybe since they’re volunteers we shouldn’t care?

  12. Voice of Reason 1776

    You all should just do what I do concerning race – treat everyone the same regardless of skin color. It works great for me. If you understand the actual differences between the “races” you know there is no difference. The amount and type of melanin in your skin controls the depth and tone of skin color the same way it does hair color. People like to categorize people, especially for political purposes, to exert control over people by making us think the most important factors about what makes us us are immutable characteristics like skin color. In fact, the real differences between people are the things in our mind and hearts. Those are the only things that matter. I’m sure some of you will say I am too simplistic and denying the existence of racial prejudice. I don’t deny it’s existence. I just don’t think it’s necessary. We are all the same and we need to all treat each other the same. I do and it works.

    • AthensHomerDawg

      “Many well-meaning people will sagely tell you that we are all unique, that we have our own peculiarities and idiosyncrasies. This makes you believe that no two people are alike just like no two snowflakes are alike.

      Then there are others who insist that alike or not, we are all snowflakes after all. They tell you that we are all the same.”

      https://www.quora.com/Are-we-all-the-same

      • Cojones

        No snowflakes are the same. We all are uniquely different.

        Figured your son is close to writing prescriptions. Tell him the pills you are taking make you delusional and you need a prescription that reconciles your reasoning with reality. Don’t let him sneak in that bipolar shit, that’s a separate prescription.
        🙂

  13. Michael

    I can’t believe I get to be the first one to point this out: Bryant made the decision to desegregate before the Sam Cunningham game. Bama’s first Black player was an ineligible freshman watching that game in the stands.

  14. It boils down to $$$$$ and winning. No one in the SEC office wants to see that go away. Use what ever motives you can come up with.