OSU’s Gundy Puts Young Athletes in the Driver’s Seat

Coach Gundy Incites a Race War
Social conflicts commonly spill over into sports. The latest incident? Oklahoma State Football coach, Mike Gundy.
Since late May, police departments have served as the primary example of what happens when overarching race problems in America go unchecked in any given institution. LeBron James, Richard Sherman, and more have spoken and continue to speak out against racism. They have shown a pattern of behavior that makes their involvement predictable and believable.

Players like Drew Brees seem to be coming around now, after being dragged, kicking, and screaming into a bit of racial awarenessJJ Watt and many others seem to have had a genuine change of heart, though. Even Randy Orton supported Black Lives Matter, then doubled down on his newfound understanding against his own fans

This one, the situation with Gundy, was a shocker, and there’s no other way to say it. It was also a huge relief for Black players, Black fans, and Black people who so desperately want their fears and struggles to be taken seriously by their white counterparts.

Now, the lid is getting blown off of college programs, and it’s getting messy. America’s youth is in a tougher position than anyone. But first, let’s examine the culture of football. 


Affections in Football


Football players and coaches have a bond that rivals father and son, even at the high school level. The relationship between coaches and players is a covenant. When high-caliber football teams say, “we are a family,” they do not mean that colloquially.  

Football comes first, above all things. Everything else is secondary.

Schoolwork is secondary. Family functions are secondary, and sometimes, even family emergencies become a part of that opportunity cost. Teammates and coaches will protect each other from all harm, be it right or wrong. This means crime, scandals, and all-encompassing sources of vulnerability provided that they respect and are accountable for one another.  


Urban Meyer: A Patriarch’s Fall From Grace


Urban Meyer is the paragon of the covenant of football. The following is not an evaluation of morals, but a discussion of the culture that defines football teams and organizations.

While coaching at Florida, players were arrested for various crimes, including domestic battery and felony theft.

Lucky for Meyer, his team was winning, and Tim Tebow, the Christian highlight, served as a welcomed distraction from all of the other negative press.

The locker room was not out of control. Florida was winning, which made them, in fact, very functional. The school and police department had the power to stop anyone from playing. As for Urban Meyer, that was not his job. I cannot stress this enough. He is there to win football games. The University knows this, and so does he.

Understand that this was not leniency on the part of Meyer; this was standard behavior guided by the sport’s culture. Brewing while all of the players were acting up, was a series of abusive encounters inflicted by Zach Smith, one of Urban Meyer’s former assistant coaches. Let’s not mince words here. Zach Smith was beating his wife.


Zach Smith


In 2009, Smith was arrested for allegedly shoving his wife against a wall while she was pregnant. Meyer admitted that he and his wife Shelley got involved in helping Zach and his wife by way of relationship counseling. There was another incident in 2015, and it is now clear that Smith’s wife no longer wanted to be a part of the relationship. Ultimately, Urban Meyer was guided by the culture of football that he was already accustomed to. 

Ohio State University President Michael Drake stated about Meyer, “…he did fail to take sufficient action regarding Zach Smith…”.


Aaron Hernandez


Meyer also counseled the infamous Aaron HernandezMeyer and his wife used bible studies to try and rehabilitate Hernandez in attempts to get him to focus, as well as behave himself. If you are reading this, you obviously know that it didn’t work. The point here is Urban Meyer was going to do whatever he could to protect both his program and the individuals in it. He abided by the covenant of football, which is both normal and expected when it comes to close communities such as football teams. 


Dabo and Gundy


What Dabo Sweeney and Mike Gundy did, on the other hand, is not included in the covenant of football. Dabo Sweeney coaches Black players every day; Black Lives Matter advocates for the protection of the lives that make up half of his team. Black Lives Matter has been making headlines since 2015.

So, for Dabo to have the nerve to wear a “Football Matters” shirt and then pretend that it was not a reference to the Black Lives Matter movement is an insult with many layers. For one, he belittles the scourge of the very youth who have put their future in his hands. Second, he insults them all by refusing to both apologize and playing coy when asked about it. 


Coach Gundy Flies His Banner


Mike Gundy wore a One America News (OAN) shirt in a picture that has surfaced a few weeks back. Then, he made an “apology video” that looked like a prisoner of war reading the demands of their captors. Gundy will not get fired for this because he cannot and should not. The Urban Meyer situation was different, that was covering up a crime. Wearing a political media outlet’s t-shirt that may offend others is not grounds for termination or a coerced resignation. 

Brandishing apparel from a propaganda outlet, however, will likely cripple Gundy’s program. That single action has now blown the lid off of a growing problem that is only exacerbated by Gundy’s past transgressions. When the star running back speaks out publicly against a head coach in football, you have only seen the tip of an iceberg. 


OAN for Dummies


To put Chuba, said star running back, and other players’ emotional reactions in context, you must first understand that OAN is a hyper-partisan outlet. All hyper-partisan outlets are dismissive and divisive, yet dismissive does not even come close to describing OAN’s stance on the Black Lives Matter movement.

In fact, OAN describes Black Live Matter supporters and demonstrators as “oppressive,” “racists,” and “terrorists.” OAN also asserts that BLM supporters are “beating down white people into the street because they’re white.” Many of their takes are so brazen that it almost makes me miss Megyn Kelly. LOL, unlucky Megyn. Furthermore, OAN has maintained these points since as early as 2016.

If you’re having trouble grasping this concept, imagine sitting at home watching any sporting event. They are just about to get underway, and one of the athletes makes a gesture that they have explained to be a statement against human trafficking. 

Maybe they say, “human trafficking afflicts too many women,” and the person sitting next to you becomes angry or annoyed. They change the channel because they “do not want politics ruining the game.” You might be thinking to yourself; that person seems to be a certain way.  


Chuba Hubbard Fires the First Shot


Chuba Hubbard, who fired the first shot at Coach Gundy, probably feels that Gundy is a certain way after seeing that photo and getting to interact with him every day. 

Sometimes it seems probable that certain actions were, in fact, mistakes made due to character. However, other situations expose patterns of behavior and beliefs. 

Many readers will say that while Gundy may be offensive, telling someone you will send them back to the hood is not racist. Frankly, many will claim there is no racism at OSU or from Coach Gundy here because they do not want to see it. In today’s climate, it seems that anything short of saying the ‘n-word’ (hard R) or committing a hate crime is undoubtedly not racism. Between Liberals wearing blackface and Conservatives’ abuse of the phrase “isolated incident,” political affiliation alone does not tell you who someone is. Their actions, when taken in context, however, do.


Allies of House Hubbard


Former college football players Alfred Williams and Tim James revealed that Gundy said the ‘n-word’ (hard R) so they could hear it. Alfred Williams educated the public to Gundy’s intent by telling of an experience in which Gundy called him the n-word (hard R) directly, during a game.  

College players going forward are not obligated to do anything about Gundy’s behavior. If they want change, however, their actions show us all how important being treated fairly really is to them. They are in the spotlight but already enrolled at the University. This means they can be easily leveraged.


The Power of Youth


The players that are really free to make a change are high school recruits. By refusing to play at places like OSU or for coaches like Coach Gundy, they can make a statement to universities both morally and financially.

You can call it a protest. You can call it being principled. Whatever you call it, it does not matter. If universities feel that they will lose out on talent ( which equals money) because of racism, it will be a problem. They will likely take action to penalize racism instead of being complicit and hiding it from the press.

It may not be fair to expect people that are so young to take a stand, but you have to be an adult at some point. Of course, some university recruiters are very convincing. Many scholarship offers are very lucrative to athletes hailing from certain situations.

All races can choose to be principled here, but black high school athletes that commit to OSU after all of this will be criticized harshly. They can make the most significant difference. They are the most emotionally and financially vulnerable but also the freest.

Black people are born with the burden of activism. That’s what it is: a burden. Young black athletes, in particular, have an even greater amount of pressure on them. It’s unfortunate that their identities heavily influence the gravity of their decisions, but this is the situation they were born into. Muhammad Ali set a standard for Black athletes that is demanding, to say the least. While making every important decision in their life, they may not want to be a black athlete or a black student, etc. They just want to be.

Unfortunately, this is what is required for change. Activism for Black youth is something you are born into. Every decision you make will be evaluated rigorously. Your decisions can and will affect the rest of your community, be that for better or for worse. 


  • Thurman Foreman

    Starts every morning with an obscene amount of black coffee & a nice long look in the mirror. Always puts him in a good mood. Product of Chicago and SMU that likes to talk sports and drink a lot so that he stays healthy and hydrated. This is a test. If you're reading this, I've likely done a tremendous job. As you were, September's Very Own

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