FORUM: ‘Ferguson Virus’ SEC college Sports Scared Shirtless

FORUM: ‘Ferguson Virus’  SEC college Sports Scared Shirtless
November 12
00:00 2015

In above photo: Illustration by Ron Rogers for The Chronicle

Bill Turner, Guest Columnist

Imagine the following state of affairs: 

Everybody who was somebody in the Southeastern Conference (SEC) was there, plus the big wigs from the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA).  It was the day after what one attendee described as the “Massacre in Missouri.” 

Jonathan Butler, a graduate student with the Ferguson movement on his resume, started a hunger strike at the University of Missouri a week ago to protest the “longstanding racist climate.” Student and faculty organizations soon backed him; and then, to everybody’s amazement, the mostly black football team took to the field, so to speak. The rest is history.

ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith – resplendent in a Hugo Boss athletic slim fit suit – the moderator, was seated on a stool behind a counter outfitted to look like the one at Woolworth’s Five & Dime in Greensboro, vintage 1961.

To protect their identities, SEC member institution presidents, athletic directors, coaches and their assistants came dressed as Gators, Bulldogs, Wildcats, Tigers, Razorbacks and Gamecocks. Only die-hard college gridiron fans know what a Commodore is; but, it has a military ring, as does Colonel. The Rebel in the room couldn’t hide at all.  An Aggie was dressed as a haystack, a needle sticking straight through its torso.

Nick Saban of Alabama, who makes $7 million a year, came disguised as a wad of $100 dollar bills, since he was unable to mask as a Crimson Tide – whatever that is.  “Nick, you open up and chair this since you have more experience with them, at least, winning, than the rest of us,” said Saban’s Superboss, Greg Sankey, the SEC Commissioner, who was concealed inside one of those oversized checks donors give charities; $310 million was in the amount line, representing the revenue distributed to member schools in 2014, an average of $22 million per school.

The crisis mode was like the atmosphere just before the kickoff of the national title game.  After all, more Americans – especially in the Bible-Belt South – attend college football games than go to church or vote.

“That’s the metric and the money we are talking about,” said Saban, in the voice used when a team has been beaten like it stole something. What went wrong in the locker rooms at the University of Missouri?    

Other pros, or at least where they stood, were in the room. “These boys been listenin’ to Kareem,” thought World Wide Wes, aka William Sydney Wesley, who was seated next to the basketball coach from the University of Kentucky.  Mr. Wesley is noted for his dealings with numerous high-profile college coaches, NBA players and their representatives, and is considered the most influential man in the business side of pro basketball. College kids, like the ones at Missouri, know World Wide Wes.

Kareem had said that he was not impressed with Michael Jordan’s decision to put Air Jordans over having a political voice. “Republicans buy my shoes too,” Jordan had asserted. The Missouri players headed back to the locker room, averting a $1 million fine and forfeiture had they not suited up against Brigham Young this weekend. 

LeBron James was mentioned by someone for his “act of disloyalty to the hand that feeds him” for leading the Heat players onto the floor in hoodies after Zimmerman was found not guilty for the death of Trayvon Martin.  “Is he one of us or one of them?,” someone from Tennessee volunteered to wonder, adding how the Clippers players had left him scratching his head with all the fuss over what their owner Donald Sterling said.  Sterling got much the same fate as the top guys at Mizzou last week.

Someone trying to disguise his Mississippi twang suggested that all black college athletes at predominately white colleges be put “in classes like the ones they have down there in North Carolina.” Stephen A., now mimicking Howard Cossell, introduced a panel titled: “What to do if your black athletes are thoughtful and utter political statements.”

“Hey, stop crying those kinda tears!,” shrieked Saben, to whomever was inside a big alligator costume.  It’s hard to know how the Notre Dame mascot, somebody black in the get up of a leprechaun, got to the conference.  But, he was last seen kneeling, saying a Hail Mary prayer.   

Tommie Smith and John Carlos, real life rebels, wiped the counter of the tears and sweat with towels they kept as souvenirs from the 1968 Olympics.  Michael Sams, the first openly gay NFL draftee, was back at his alma mater in Columbia, raising a black power salute to a rally celebrating victory over a pattern of racist oppression.

Dr. Bill Turner is a noted educator, writer and thinker who called Winston-Salem home for many years. Reach him at

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