There seems to be a growing trend in the world of sports in relation to racism and outright dehumanization. I will refer to it as exhibition lynching. Among fans and season ticket holders particularly in the world of professional and collegiate football, live people who believe it is their right to invoke any type of gripe they so choose when their particular team, player or coach is not winning games.
Head coach Willie Taggart of the Florida State Football team is one of many Black coaches who has faced blatant racial scrutiny in regards to their success. Just this past weekend after a disappointing loss to the University of Florida, one fan in particular posted an inflammatory meme depicting the coach being lynched. The University quickly addressed the situation, calling it completely 'ignorant and despicable'. It is the same old "mess up and then apologize" mantra with a quick sweep under the rug, but Black people knew the deal. As soon as Coach Taggart stepped foot in Tallahassee to coach one of the largest and most successful programs in college football, we knew his days were not only numbered but that he would also face a racial lashing. In my opinion, it is extremely troubling that in a league where more than half its players are Black, only approximately 8 percent of its head coaches are. The numbers just don’t add up.
More often than not, Black coaches are fired or forced to resign and do not get a second chance to head coach again. In almost every single case the schools hire a white coach as successor. To date, only one Black coach has been fired and then hired to lead another major college program which was Tyrone Willingham who was fired from Notre Dame and went on to be hired by the University of Washington. However, that was over a decade ago. We have seen it with other coaches such as Charlie Strong who have had difficulties despite being pioneers in their profession. Wins and losses are always the cause for coaching changes, but Black coaches are held to a much higher standard. And once they are on the chopping block, their days are numbered. The question is why are white coaches of major programs having no trouble getting other major jobs after being fired, but black coaches fail to do so? Not only that, why are these major schools not hiring them? I will leave it up to you to judge whether this is unconscious bias by athletic directors or racial discrimination while serving you a major dose of side eye.
We have seen time and time again white coaches not only being professionally unsuccessful but also personally. This has included cover-ups, moral deceit, and even criminal probes. These guys sit in positions for years or are given jobs and second chances on a silver platter. What a privilege. And these athletes cannot even use their platform to display their personal feelings or positions without some sort of backlash or threat from fans. What people fail to realize is that these players have the right to do so. They are constitutionally protected. They are free men, not slaves bound to your personal opinions or on leashes in which you determine how far they stretch.
To the fans, I ask, where do you get off? What gives any of you the right to spew your racial debauchery toward any of our beloved coaches? Our men of color work tirelessly and relentlessly their whole lives just to receive a spot on a college or professional roster. It is even more difficult to go on to become a head football coach as a Black man. We make up more than half of most football and basketball rosters on the basis of talent and an acquired skill set, and because you purchase tickets or sit in the stands that gives you the right to publicly harass them? Get over yourselves. Your purchase of season tickets does not give you any sort of authority over our men. You don't get to give orders or tell them what to do or when to do it. This includes taking knees, anthem participation, protesting and even losing. White coaches have been acquiring head coaching jobs and losing for decades and never receive the treatment that coaches of color do.
I believe it is time we have a serious discussion on where we go from here. Sports are beginning to exhibit a slave master vs. slave relationship. We are already protesting and taking knees and our men are still being treated less than human. As our children delve heavily into pop warner leagues and school-based athletic programs, if predominately white institutions do not provide us athletic opportunities (which also come with moral respect, human dignity and without the racial whippings from fans) will it be time to consider more of our historically black collegiate institutions for ourselves and our children?
It is hard conversation to have, but one we might need to explore.