Applying Kaepernick’s Movement to College Sport

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Could Colin Kaepernick’s movement on the football field lead to reform in college sport? The systemic mistreatment of black males in this country by both our criminal justice system and education system is well documented in Michael Holzman’s book “The Chains of Black America”.

Holzman examines our dual socioeconomic structure and the caste of racism. I would argue that we are all connected to the black lives matter movement on college gameday. This is an important fact and worth noting – we, white people and the institutions we dominate, intentionally keep black males out of our economic system. It starts by keeping our free lunch children (Title I) from getting the education that will empower them to break out from the cycle of poverty.

The NAEP statistics on education and race (see p.164 “Cheated”) are consistent with my literacy study (CNN analysis – Some college athletes….) with data which was collected from university approved tests. It’s no surprise that UNC officials discredited my study and argued that my data was false. To admit that athletes are so underprepared that they cannot get a real education would be a violation of the contractual agreement between the athlete, school and NCAA, not to mention an embarrassment with regards to the overall high admission standards that UNC touts. Meanwhile we celebrate admissions and the good work done in that office today at Carolina on University Day.

UNC apologists can argue (and they do) that non-athlete students took paper classes and it is true that some non-athlete students took advantage of the paper class system. The Wainstein report (p.35) shows, however, that 71% of students who took between five and nine paper classes were athletes. I saw athletes’ transcripts with 6, 8, 10, 13 and 18 paper classes (see “Cheated” page 140). The paper class system was a system of athletic eligibility. Don’t we owe our athletes a real education? SACS dropped the ball on this one. They did not look at the transcripts and they therefore allowed themselves to be co-opted by the machine as well. Meanwhile, the NCAA, currently tied up in knots, needs a hearing before the hearing on the UNC case to figure out how to begin to end this game of dodgeball. Criminy.

The latest hypocrisy out of Indianapolis is the NCAA’s refusal to allow Isaiah Brock to play basketball at Oakland State. His high school transcripts were sub-par so he didn’t meet the GPA clearinghouse requirements. Mr. Brock has been a decorated soldier in the armed forces for the past four years and has successfully proved that he can pass college level coursework. By contrast, during my time at UNC we had no problem letting in students who could not do college coursework. We had no problem getting waivers for at least three students (one basketball and two football athletes) who were among the most underprepared athletes we ‘served’ during my seven year tenure in the academic support program at UNC. Oakland State must not have the power – follow the money.

Today’s announcement that Bubba Cunningham received another pay increase making his salary now a cool 700K annually puts him as the highest paid employee on campus. In big business the highest paid employee is the CEO. The difference is that businesses pay their laborers. College athletes don’t get paid with salaries or with real educations. Sports has become a hotbed for injustice in this country. Kaepernick should broaden his protest. The racial disparities in our country go far beyond the policing techniques in our cities. We are all connected to the Black Lives Matter movement and Kaepernick’s movement on college gameday. Every one of us should be taking a knee not out of disrespect to our country but out of respect for what our founding fathers created – a nation with liberty and JUSTICE for all.

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