bad sports, good sports

Bad sports, good sports: Grambling’s football team refuses to play

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Football has been played at Grambling State University for a very long time. Eighty-five years, to be exact. They are not a team you see on television very often, but they have a rich and successful history. This week, though, would have to be considered a low point in the school’s football history, as the team mutinied, for lack of a better term, and refused to play its game against Jackson State.

Grambling plays in Division 1-AA (now stupidly called FCS, or Football Championship Subdivision), and competes in the Southwestern Athletic Conference. The school is one of a group known as historically black colleges, which is made up of schools that were founded before 1964 to serve the African-American community at a time when most colleges were not so welcoming, to put it nicely. There is even a poll that determines a national champion among members of this group, and the Grambling Tigers have won that title 14 times since 1955. Legendary head coach Eddie Robinson led the program for 56 years, amassing an amazing 408 victories, which was the record until Joe Paterno broke it in 2011. Robinson died in 2007, and I have to wonder if he would have allowed what occurred this week to happen. The trouble has been brewing for a while, it would seem. Popular head coach Doug Williams, a former NFL quarterback who led the Washington Redskins to a Super Bowl title in 1988, was fired after an 0-2 start that followed a 1-11 record last season. The players were upset about that, but it sounds like their list of grievances is a long one. They sent a letter to the school’s administration this week after refusing to travel to Jackson, Mississippi on Friday for the team’s game against Jackson State. The letter detailed the conditions of the football facilities, including reports of mold and mildew on equipment and uniforms. It also complained of many very long bus rides to games (while administrators traveled by plane), and of the lack of sports drinks and supplements, things which are provided at most other programs.

Massive budget cuts seem to be the culprit, at least according to the administration. I feel for the players, but also wonder if they were offering to give back a portion of their scholarships, considering that they refused to play. They receive full scholarships in exchange for twelve games a year. I am guessing none of them are offering up 1/12 of the cost of tuition and room & board. If not, they need to get out there and play. Should something be done to improve things? Sure, especially if conditions are unsafe. Mold is dangerous and needs to be eliminated. I imagine there are donors and alumni out there who’d be happy to shell out some dough to get their names on the facilities. I feel bad for Jackson State, who had nothing to do with any of this and had to deal with its opponent not showing up. The game was a forfeit, so it ends up a win for them in the end, but there was also an empty stadium, which means refunds, no concessions sold, and a lot of disgruntled students, alumni, and fans.

This is a big mess that needs to be resolved quickly. There is no word yet on any kind of plan, or if the players will return to practice tomorrow. I am guessing we have not heard the last of this situation.

Bad sports, continued:

2) MLB umpire Wally Bell, a veteran of 21 major league seasons, died of a heart attack in Ohio on Monday, less than a week after he worked on the Dodgers-Cardinals playoff series.

3) Former NFL wide receiver Irving Fryar, a former Philadelphia Eagle whom I liked a lot when he played here, has been indicted for stealing a bunch of money in some kind of mortgage scam. Fryar is a pastor and has been held up as a pillar of his community and a man to be admired after his early-career struggles with drugs.

4) A wide receiver for the Eastern Michigan University football team, Demarius Reed, was found shot to death in the hallway of his apartment building on Friday.

5) NBA Hall-of-Famer Bill Russell, a center who won a record 11 NBA championships during his illustrious career, was arrested in Seattle on Wednesday when he tried to board a plane with a loaded handgun in his carry-on luggage. Nice work, genius.

6) Well, you don’t hear this one every day. The wife of a Seattle Mariners player, Carlos Peguero, has been arrested for running up $180,000 in purchases using the debit card of the wife of her husband’s teammate, Felix Hernandez.  I take it the debit card was not offered up voluntarily.

7) I sure hope the new stadium being built for the San Francisco 49ers is nice, because it has become a very expensive project, in terms of human life. A construction worker died there in an accident back in June, and another died this week after steel rebar fell on him. Brutal.

Good sports:

1) Grand slams are really becoming a thing for this Boston Red Sox team. A week after David Ortiz got his team back into its series against the Detroit Tigers by hitting a slam to win game three, Shane Victorino, new to the team this year, cleared the bases with a shot in the seventh inning of game six of the same series, sending the Sox into the World Series.

2) In a month or so, I will be running the Philadelphia Marathon. Next fall, I hope to run the Chicago Marathon. Neither accomplishment will come anywhere close to what Maickel Melamed did in last weekend’s running of the Chicago Marathon. Melamed, from Venezuela, has something called Hypotonia. When he was born, it was thought that he would never walk. It took him nearly 17 hours, but he finished the marathon at 1:30 AM. More incredibly, this was actually the third marathon he has completed.

Bad sports, good sports appears every Monday

Alan Spoll is a software quality assurance director from the suburbs of Philadelphia where he lives with his wonderful wife and children. He has spent his entire life as a passionate fan of the Eagles, Phillies, Sixers, Flyers, and Penn State. Recent Phillies success aside, you will understand his natural negativity. Follow me on Twitter - @DocAlan02
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