Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Context is Everything...

... and I'm curious how Frederick Douglass would feel about his "No struggle, no progress" bit being used to assuage academic and drug problems.

Check this brief article from ESPN.com and let me know if former Texas RB Ramonce Taylor's recent quote also makes you shake your head.


Brother Spotless said...

On the surface, this quote does seem to be used out of context, mainly because the struggle Douglass speaks of is external and the Texas RB's struggles seem to be caused by himself. Drug addiction could be a proper use of the term "struggle;" at the very least, I can see Douglass being sympathetic to him.

Brother Lightness said...

I can't see Douglass --who taught himself how to read and pulled himself up from the bootstraps of slavery-- being sympathetic at all to homeboy. As a privileged and lauded athlete, dude trivializes the quote most embarassingly.

Brother Spotless said...

"Privileged" is a pretty subjective term. If Douglass were to somehow live today, he may see the current collegiate athletic situation in which young blacks find themselves in to be a form of "modern-day slavery'" especially if he considered the term "student-athlete" to be an oxymoron.

I see your point: the RB is a college student and has an opportunity that he can take advantage of. But football is an animal in an of itself in places like Texas, much different than what it is in the Northeast. Maybe there isn't much opportunity for education (assuming, of course, that education is the privilege you speak of) at a place where football practices, film sessions, position meetings and team meetings can easily take up 7 hours a day (not to mention a Saturday road game which could take said "student-athlete" anywhere across America's Great Plains).

If football is the only reason he was at this institute for higher learning, and you understand that a very small percentage of college football players make it to the NFL, what is this "privilege" that you speak of, Brother Lightness??

Brother Lightness said...


You speak as if Taylor would have been better off not being a member of the UT football roster.

The opportunity to receive an education for free will always be a "privilege", especially when former slaves such as Douglass would have gladly paid athletic "dues" (not to mention the prospect of a professional career with an annual slary significantly higher than the majority of Americans) in return for an education.

Depending on the institution of your choice, a $100,000 payoff for 4 years of undergraduate schooling in return for your athletic services hardly seems like "modern day slavery" to me (not to mention free press, team gear, booster services, etc).

Douglass didn't have a choice when it came to being a slave.

Taylor has a number of options, many of which would not have been possible without the struggles of his forebearers, including Douglass.

Save your sorry tales of student-athlete mistreatment for New England's Division 3 athletes.

Brother Spotless said...

Exactly the reason why "privilege" is a subjective term.

It seems unfair and unproductive to juxtapose statements made in the 1800's to statements made in the summer of 2006 without also juxtapoing the state of affairs as well. "No struggle, no progress" possesses different meaning in 1806 than it has today, but does that mean those words have no value for blacks in our current world? I think not. If Douglass were alive today, I think the quandry that black college athletes find themselves in would be an issue he would most certainly take on as a modern day "stuggle."

And yes, the current state of collegiate athletics at big-time schools is very unfair. Schools like Texas, Michigan, Ohio State, Florida State (I could go on) make millions off their football players, and the athletes don't see a dime off of it. Schools like North Carolina, Illinois and Arizona do the same with regard to their basketball players. And we sit back and question the players' motives when they decide to get paid for their accomplishments, calling them greedy. Educating students is one of the last things on the minds of administrators at these schools, and it shows.

How much of an opportunity do you think they have to receive this education? I had to quit playing football at Florida A&M, a Division 1-AA school, because there wasn't an opportunity to get a meaningful education and play football at the same time; there just weren't enough hours in the day to do both.

Would Taylor be better off not being a member of the UT roster? Only if he makes it to the NFL. If not, and chances are he won't, he might as well study a trade, because it is almost certain that he won't receive a meaningful degree from UT while on the active roster. You may want to blame the player for not dedicating his time to school, but like I said before, he wouldn't be at UT unless a football thought his next contract extention was tied to him and players like him.

If a player is able to both play football at a high level and graduate with a meaningful degree, then more power to him. The truth is, Lightness, not many are able to do so. Excelling in school AND on the gridiron is the exeption, not the rule.

Now, this argument would be better served on someone other than Taylor, because the "struggle" he's referring to has to do with the fact that he's simply not better than at least 2 of the 4 RB's on UT's roster, and little to do with an addiction to the Ganja or the inequalities within the collegiate athletic machine. Alas, I just like to argue...

Brother Lightness said...

"Alas, I just like to argue..."

I figured as much.