It’s a shame that this topic is having to be addressed for the second time this month, but here we are. On Saturday, Nebraska football players Michael Rose-Ivey, Mohamed Barry and DaiShon Neal joined the growing number of football players, both collegiate and professional, to kneel in protest during the national anthem. Good for them for voicing their opinion and using their platform, right?
Well, apparently plenty of Husker Nation didn’t agree. Rose-Ivey spoke at a press conference on Monday and said that he has received threats and hate mail from fans. An emotional Rose-Ivey revealed messages to his social media accounts ranging from the run-of-the-mill hurling of the N-word to one fan going as far as to saying he and his teammates who joined in kneeling should be hanged during the anthem next game.
Husker fans are traditionally known as some of, if not the single, friendliest and kindest fans in college football. That doesn’t change either because a few evil souls happen to root for the Huskers. The fact that people in such a conservative state have these opinions is sadly not too much of a surprise.
The point in which sports and politics—sports and the real world—collide is fascinating. Over-zealous fans often lose sight that the athletes they root for, especially at the college level, are real people. With real lives. With real problems. Michael Rose-Ivey is Michael Brown. He is Terence Crutcher.
The fact of the matter is in the eyes of many; all of these young African-American men are interchangeable. Both interchangeable in society, where being young and black automatically makes you suspicious, and on the gridiron, where one injury or one bad game could be the end of your career. New England Patriots tight end Martellus Bennet recently was quoted as saying the NFL stands for “N*****s For Lease,” and he has a more-than-valid point.
The question now for the growing number of athletes taking a stand is what happens next? The awareness and fact that this issue has finally been brought to the forefront of every genre of news and media and entertainment is of the upmost importance. But to continue this momentum, the next step needs to be taken, and Rose-Ivey is leading the charge.
Gov. Pete Ricketts called the three player’s actions “disgraceful and disrespectful,” while answering a caller on his call-in radio show who said the three players should be dumped in the ocean by Nebraska officials.
Upon hearing what Ricketts had to say, Rose-Ivey tweeted Tuesday morning requesting a meeting with the governor. Now, our governor might be too busy doing PR at a college campus near you, but if not, I hope he accepts Rose-Ivey’s invitation.
The state of Nebraska shockingly has gained an opportunity to be at the forefront of important racial change. In this time of heightened racial tension, this is the time for Nebraska to step up.
Mason Schweizer for The Wayne Stater