Wednesday, Travis Hunter turned the college football world on its ear when he shunned Florida State and opted to attend Jackson State. The decision sent reverberations through the college football landscape that may be felt for years to come.
Immediately after Hunter’s choice became public, he, Coach Deion Sanders, Jackson State, the SWAC and HBCUs as a whole were targets for suspected white supremacist fueled rancor. On this day it was shown that racism is a sport for all ages, as these troglodytes wished all sorts of harm on a kid who made a life decision and because it no longer involves potentially scoring touchdowns or making tackles for your university, he is now public enemy number one in the eyes of the knuckle-dragging contention of the Florida State klanbase,errr , fanbase.
Jackson State head football coach Deion Sanders, who is the best football player that Free Shoes University has ever produced, who just a little over twelve months ago was interested in the Noles’ head job, but was rebuffed. Following the landing of young Hunter, Coach Sanders suddenly had his character and integrity called into question ( and his FSU jersey burned) for no reason other than saltiness and the bigoted indignation at a coach doing what every other coach is trying to do, which is improve his team. To elucidate the clear race-fused hypocrisy, a simple look at FSU’s signing day reveals that Travis Hunter was not the only touted prospect to flip on the Noles that day. Four-star wide receiver Devaughn Mortimer was seemingly all set to to take his talents to Tallahassee but flipped to Louisville. The focused and negative sentiment that was directed toward Hunter seemed to by and large was conspicuously absent in the case of Mortimer; did he not too spurn the Seminoles? Cardinals head coach Scott Satterfield was not denigrated for getting Mortimer to change his mind and attend Louisville; oddly enough the Satterfield Appalachian State jerseys remained safe from being set ablaze.
People in the national media echoed the sentiment of the rank-and-file suspected white supremacist, taking to their twitter accounts, websites and broadcasts to revel in casting pejoratives at both Jackson State as well as the Southwestern Athletic Conference. One of the most unabashedly vocal critics of the decision was Doug Gottlieb, a radio host and college basketball analyst for Fox Sports, the sporting arm of Rupert Murdoch’s yellow journalism platform, aka Fox News. In one of many daft tweets Gottlieb thumbed out on the matter, he said “Twitter celebrating a kid making an obvious mistake is hilarious.”
In this exchange with Roland Martin, Gottlieb takes shots at HBCUs , not only athletically but also academically, not merely implying that the products that HBCUs produce both on the field and in the classroom, are vastly inferior to that of PWI’s.
Unfortunately Gottlieb wasn’t done, later tweeting out this gem:
White supremacy has never let the stubbornness of facts get in the way of their false narratives as it relates to black people and the drivel above is yet another example of this. Allow me to do what Gottlieb should have done before he pressed “send” on that tweet. Makur Maker only played two games because he was one of several players that contracted COVID-19, and Howard,was one of ten schools ( including the entire IVY League) who, out of concern for the health and safety of their student-athletes, decided to cancel the rest of their season and another 35 colleges that postponed ages and other team activities due to COVID-19. HBCU Gameday did an excellent report on the matter, and it was his concern over the virus potentially affecting another season and his draft stock, not Howard University itself, was why he played just two games. Hercy Miller suffered an injury and his father Master P, felt that Tennessee State’s medical resources was inadequate to properly deal with the hip injury his son has and that was misdiagnosed. Misdiagnosis are certainly not, nor have ever been exclusive to HBCU’s. It, unfortunately ,can and does happen at all levels including up to the professional ranks. The misdiagnosis, of the San Antonio Spurs Danny Green and Kawhi Leonard are stark reminders of this fact. Even though Miller did enter the transfer portal, a return to Tennessee State would not be ruled if medical resources are upgraded. Considering that Gottlieb once said on his radio show that blackface was not offensive to black people and attempted to rationlize/justify the horrendous act, his overall takes should come as a surprise to no one.
In addition to white supremacy, the other root source of this prodigious acrimony is fear. Fear that this Travis Hunter is just the first in a coming wave of blue chip black athletes that will not only give serious consideration but will look to attend HBCUs. If that becomes a trend it stands to swing the balance of power, in the athletic realm we are speaking of, to HBCUs and away from PWIs.. Should that happen, these major and even mid-major conference could lose hundreds of millions of dollars. As in all areas of life, ,money is a tool used to wield power and the white athletic power structure that dominates American ameteur athletics, more than anything, fears and disdains anything that could threaten their stranglehold on that power.
What should also now be plainly clear to black athletes at the collegiate level is that the behavior of these so-called football fans and analysts should be a wake up call to hoe they really, and likely always have viewed you. Bj Jones from Inside HBCU Sports encapsulated it perfectly in this tweet: