By Jalisa Jones
The other day, my perusal of the internet brought me to an open online forum called TigerDroppings.com, which included a thread about whether Bayou Classic should still be televised.
As a proud alumna of a Historically Black College or University (HBCU) and fellow member of the Southwest Athletic Conference (SWAC), I was bewildered and felt undervalued.
The forum asked legitimate questions regarding the benefits of the game, the profit margin of the network (NBC) that broadcasts it, and the game’s effect on the tourism industry. However, some of the posts to the forum included derogatory and frankly racist comments.
Of these off color topics, the one that angered me the most was one that asked, “Is black college football relevant?” Given the topic of the forum, one would assume that the poster was referring strictly to HBCUs, but given the placement of his comma I would assume he was referring to all “blacks” in college football.
I came up with an idea to solve the discrepancies on whether “black college football” is relevant: denying black men in college the opportunity to play football. Take all of these money making, powerhouse teams, and strip them of their African-American players.
To be fair, lets start with the team whose cult-like fan base is the primary audience of the site: LSU.
Goodbye, Leonard Fournette, Anthony Jennings, Jalen Mills, and all of the 80-something black players on the team. The result would be barely enough players for a Saturday 7-on-7 match-up at the local BREC park.
The same would hold true for about 90 percent, if not more, of the nation’s college football teams if their black players were taken away. With that being said, does one really need to ask how relevant these players are?
Is the real problem here Southern and Grambling’s airtime on NBC, or that their records surpassed that of the Bayou Bengals?
Their playing seems to bother some, but it shouldn’t.
To tell these players that you don’t think their college football team should be televised undervalues the hard work these young men put into playing for schools that have been rooted in the black community. In addition, this game is a recruitment tool for both programs, not to mention so important to the fan bases of both schools that the programs have forfeited Football Championship Subdivision playoff eligibility to keep the Bayou Classic going.
The Bayou Classic has been a tradition and an in-state rivalry well before it was popularized in 1974. Current students, future students and alumni of both schools, benefit from not only the game but also the events prior such as the College & Career Fair; Black Enterprise Elevator Pitch Program and the Capital One Bayou Classic Business Challenge.
The exact amount of earnings from the game’s broadcast isn’t apparent, but I would infer NBC values the Bayou Classic because of its extension in 2013 to broadcast the game for the next three years, as stated by the Advocate. Tourism in New Orleans this year brought in over 200,000 people to the city, as hotels booked up, and cars stretched for miles from every direction.
Although your opinion on black college football is allowed via the First Amendment, expressing it toward student-athletes whose choice in school does not meet your preference should be barred because you have no problem with “black college football” when your African-American quarterback wins you the game. LSU fans should recall a time when LSU was not that good and see how they would have felt if their rivalry games between Alabama or Arkansas were pulled from broadcast television outside those markets.
So with that being said, LET THOSE KIDS PLAY!