Only 15 of Clemson’s 57 black student-athletes attended the White House visit.
Earlier this month, the press was aghast at pictures and video of Donald J. Trump feeding the college football National Champion Clemson Tigers football team with fast food that the FDA long ago determined to be horrible for one’s health.
Serving unhealthy food at a Federally-sponsored event is one thing, using the affair as a political prop is another thing entirely. And the “other thing” category is where Trump decided to tread.
Make no mistake, Donald Trump is a dumpster fire of a president and, at this point, it’s become almost impossible to mention his name and have a completely objective thought.
Though it was impossible to see exactly how many players attended from prior video, The Root recently reported that while most of Clemson’s white players attended, most of the black players did not.
Of the 15 black players who did attend, 11 of them were either freshman or sophomore players while only six were on the depth chart for the National Championship game.
Unnamed players told reporters under anonymity that none of the coaching staff pressured players one way or another. But, according to one player, the players who did go were doing so for playing time or to protect their scholarship.
However, the fact that only 15 of the 57 black student athletes on the team attended was telling. What’s also telling is how this information is just now being disseminated.
In their own quiet way, the black Clemson players who chose not attend made a very loud statement against demagoguery and racism.
Activism in Sports
Last year, professional championship winners from the NBA, WNBA, NFL and the NBA declined to visit Trump at the White House after winning championships in their respective endeavors.
He whined to Twitter when the Philadelphia Eagles and the Golden State Warriors turned down his invitation following their victories, and the WNBA champion Seattle Storm preempted him with a decline before he asked.
College football is by far the most important sporting event in the deep south. And many of the young men who played for Dabo Swinney grew up there, as well as Dabo himself.
His ‘aw shucks!’ demeanor has made him the darling of the mainstream media, as has his penchant for beating Alabama head football coach Nick Saban in the big game. Also, he’s a state employee in South Carolina.
Take One For The Team
Swinney’s speech echoed the words of Purdue superfan Tyler Trent, who died of bone cancer after a long battle.
Bible quotes and inspirational phrases are great, but substantive and bold dialogue on the pressing issues that face our nation would have just been too much to ask from a ‘good ol’ boy’ like Swinney. Especially when his style is to behave as if he’s completely ambiguous to just how exceptionally bad his host is at performing his duties in the office of the presidency.
Did it occur to him that the visit alone could possibly alienate most of his black players?
Does he care for his black players? Looks that way. Very much so. However, the fact that he decided to go, and chose not address why most of his black players chose not to is symptomatic of a great institutional, generational, political disconnect with his players.
The state of South Carolina would likely have issued a severe admonishing had Swinney made any political statement on the President, and it wouldn’t be fair of anyone to say he should risk his livelihood in that manner.
But speaking to and collectively addressing the concerns of his black players on why they chose to stage a de facto boycott could be a way for Swinney to further connect with them on a non-football level.
But that’s not likely to happen.