The time has come for me to raise my voice in the world of blogging. I am honestly uncomfortable with the medium but, discomfort is a place from which, in most other aspects of my life, I perform well. I don’t like to be “reactionary” to issues or news and, writing on a regular basis makes me feel that way. I prefer long contemplative days considering an issue with a well thought plan. That is, in fact, my orientation as an athlete, considering the next challenge in grave detail and where execution trumps hyperbolic reaction.
So, why now? Why have I chosen this time to raise my voice in this space at this time?
I am a Jamaican-American former college and professional football player who is a member of the college football hall of fame (played in both NFL and CFL). I am also a feminist and an activist working to end men’s violence against women. I am part owner of a synthetic turf company (focused on maintenance and safety) and a college football analyst (tv and radio). Many people look at me like I’m crazy when I try to describe my professional life, like I am scattered and unfocused, but to me it’s seamless. At the core is this amazingly powerful platform of sports, used to facilitate larger more meaningful conversations. And, the honest, unbiased execution of those conversations through a lens that is neither reactionary or prejudiced for personal gain, is what I spend my time attempting to achieve.
I have intently studied the business of (college) sports since my days as a student-athlete at Syracuse University, nearly 30 years ago. Since that time, I experienced; Heisman Trophy runner-up (20 National player of the year awards), 7 years professional and induction to the college football hall of fame. My work in the prevention of men’s violence against women has brought me to more than 250 college campuses and communities, the United States Congress and the Oprah Winfrey Show.
Today, as I consider the game plan for another year of talking with college students about important social issues I see an anticipated collision of conditions…
The federal government has challenged higher education, under federal law Title IX and via a mandate directly from the White House to address issues of sexual violence on campus. The violent, sexist and homophobic culture of sports sits directly in the cross hairs.
College athletics is facing major reform that will ultimately lead to a systematic acknowledgement of the business of college sports. The next steps are critical. Professionalizing the experience for college athletes will bring upon a series of unintended outcomes, from which college sports will never recover. Some will benefit. Students will need more support than ever before and most, at the highest level won’t get it.
I hope you will follow and engage as I share my thoughts and proposed solutions to these and related issues facing our society. I will attempt humor and always bring my honest perspective, humility and humanity to each post.