“Controversy in Football” sparks debate, discussion

Cassie Buchman, City Editor

The University Board’s “Controversy in Football” event had many students debating hot topics in both NFL and collegiate level football Monday evening in 7th Street Underground.

Former Eastern football player Aaron Carr hosted the discussion.

Topics that got people the most heated included the Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson scandal, as well as the players who supported the protests in Ferguson by putting up the “I Can’t Breathe” hand gestures during games.

In regards to the protests put on in the NFL by those who supported Mike Brown, the controversy ensued because of NFL officials making the players apologize and retract their gestures.

Carr said the football players “are part of the black community first.”

Dionte McWillis, a senior history major, said members of the NFL needed to be role models for kids and show they care about the black community.

“(I need) someone I can look up to instead of just someone on TV getting paid.” he said.

One woman likened the players using the “Hands Up Don’t Shoot” gesture and ensuing controversy to the track stars who lost their gold medals during the Olympics during the Civil Rights Movement for holding up the Black Power Sign.

Carr said the NFL making the players apologize and retract their actions was a way to “silence athletes.”

“Why can’t athletes voice their opinions?” he asked.

McWillis said people want football players to “be seen and not heard.”

“They wear helmets, so you don’t know who they are,” he said. “I don’t want to say it’s white supremacy, (but they are telling the players) to just shut up and do your job.”

Carr agreed.

“It’s a very scary thing when a young man of my race doesn’t have anyone to look up to because they can’t speak out,” he said.

One young man suggested the reason many NFL players did not want to speak out was because they feared losing endorsements from companies.

Another topic that sparked debate was the Adrian Peterson situation.

Adrian Peterson was indicted on charges of child abuse after using a switch to beat his four-year-old son repeatedly on his back, buttocks, scrotum, ankles and legs.

Elven Walker, a junior sports management major, said people should not be judgmental.

“Whatever you do to discipline your kids is your business,” Walker said. “When I was younger, I got whoopings. That’s how (Peterson) was brought up; (those are) his ethics, his morals. How can you judge him based on how he was brought up?”

McWillis disagreed, saying the beatings Peterson gave his son were too harsh for a four year old.

“At the end of the day, he’s a four-year-old child,” McWillis said. “(Peterson) should have more self-control. When he gets to be 10, 12, what are you gonna do, punch him in the jaw?”

There was a consensus in the audience that the media had blown the case out of proportion.

“I bet that kid never did what he did (to make Peterson angry) again,” Walker said. “In this world, you get held accountable for your actions. The whole world will whoop him.”

Someone in the audience said that as a parent, “ you got to know when to stop.”

A scandal that provoked similar responses was the Ray Rice scandal.

Rice was indicted for aggravated assault and domestic violence after a video surfaced of him punching his fiancé, Janay Palmer, and knocking her unconscious in an elevator.

After Carr asked the audience if Rice, who was suspended indefinitely from the NFL, got the right punishment, McWillis said he “got what he deserved.”

“I’m a Ray Rice fan, but he shouldn’t be allowed back in the NFL,” he said.

Walker also said Rice got what he deserved, but added that the NFL should be penalized as well.

“(Palmer) probably depends on him for money,” he said, pointing out that suspending Rice from the NFL would make him lose his income. “(The) NFL did her wrong. (Rice) should be reinstated.”

One man in the audience said that just because people are “role models,” it does not give people the right to look into their business.

One woman argued that domestic violence shouldn’t be justified.

Health issues pertaining to football were also discussed.

Carr cited the problem of CTE, or chronic traumatic encephalopathy, an injury that many football players face.

“(CTE) creates holes in their brains, causing them to act differently,” he said.

This prompted the question of whether or not football players should be expected to stay safe, or if they should know “what they’re getting into” when they join the NFL.

Also discussed was whether college students should get paid for playing football and compensated for medical complications and injuries they may have to endure.

One woman spoke out about her friend that had to turn down a full-ride scholarship to play football at the University of Wisconsin-Madison because he did not have health insurance.

The controversy and relevance of the topics talked about during the night caused many passionate discussions about the nature of football and football star players.

Cassie Buchman can be reached at 581-2812 or at [email protected].