[ESPN.com]Keeping HBCU football Classics alive

TSU Football 92609

By J.R. Gamble | Special to ESPN.com


 Increased educational opportunities at predominantly white institutions (PWIs, as they’re known on many HBCU campuses), the never-ending search for resources and dips in attendance at the major Classics have thrust the HBCU community into a period of transition and brought the long-term viability of these games into question.

 Attendance at the most recent Classic games has dropped. The prestigious Indianapolis Circle City Classic attracted a record-low of 18,000 fans. The 71st edition of the Magic City Classic drew 58,201 fans, down from 2011’s 66,473. The Bayou Classic, which began in 1974 at Tulane Stadium in front of 80,000 fans and featured Grambling quarterback and future Super Bowl MVP Doug Williams, hit an all-time low of 40,175 in 2011.

 The crowd of 42,257 spectators at the Southern Heritage Classic was the lowest turnout since 2001. The Atlanta Football Classic saw attendance drop to fewer than 41,042, and the attendance of 32,317 fans at the Florida Classic was the lowest since 1996.

5 thoughts on “[ESPN.com]Keeping HBCU football Classics alive

  1. Was this an article to express WHY, or just informing OF? The fact of the matter is, integration, has changed the landscape of athletics on HBCU campuses. Competition. rivalries, earning potential, economics, fan interest, and socially. What integration ACTUALLY did, was created a new fan base, for predominantly white colleges, and universities. As we supported athletes of color, in strange places and surroundings, we AL:L know, there isn’t anything like the love of family, that exists on the campus of an HBCU, that support, has in effect, started crippling the foundation of HBCU’s.

    Classics for a brief time, had refueled interest, created new found hysteria, I don’t think HBCU’s capitalized on events, and merchandising, as much as they could, as white corporate America witnessed money to be made. they came in dangling sponsorship dollars. severing REAL relationships, all in the name of corporate branding and name recognition, basically selling their souls to the devils. They make money, kick back a little, and when there’s perceived no more money to be made they become out of sight, and out of mind.

    The NCAA is killing athletics on the campuses of HBCU’s. There once was a time, in which black athletes chose HBCU’s, now they appear to be reluctantly settled for. They are slowly being squeezed out of opportunities to compete for NCAA Championships. I was on the first OVC teams at Tennessee St University, and at the time it was considered a big deal, but would it have been more profitable, made more sense, to join the SWAC? MTSU has even left the OVC, and teams like Belmont have joined. More and more, meaningless Bowl games, are pushing Classics, into non relevance. HBCU’s elect to play in Classics, than compete in FCS Playoffs.

    What would also help, is bringing HBCU match-ups back on campuses. Make every game an event. More people will show up to see TSU vs Grambling, than TSU vs Tennessee Tech, Make sponsoring HBCU Classics, beneficial for black enterprises, what better way is there to promote, develop, and introduce black business? Its not surprising that the failings of both. appear to be traveling along the same path. Black businesses are disappearing from black neighborhoods, as black students are disappearing from black campuses.

    I have a plan… I have a vision…. How do I share it?

  2. Thank you Keith integration in hindsight has ruined the fan base of HBCUs.In fact it’s ruined everything black ppl started.Everything black ppl started before integration no longer exists.If ppl in the civil rights movement could see what integration has done they would happily pine away for the days of segregation at least we started our own businesses and were independent.

  3. Agree Dwight, instead of trying to fit in where you’re systematically being squeezed out, make your own place. I know economically speaking, there’s more to it, more at stake, but the NCAA is SLOWLY inching towards a playoff system, creating more interest, overlapping FBS schools, damn near 40 Bowl games, and almost 4-6 weeks until the game that matters most is even played? Slowly, but surely, the NCAA is taking away the “pay day” games, which help to support, and sustain athletic budgets at HBCU institutions.

    You look at the NCAA Tournament, the Madness of March, increasing the field, hasn’t helped HBCU’s, who’s conferences get 1 bid, so God forbid, the best team gets upset in the conference tourney. What I’ve found to be a terrible injustice, is that teams that EARN automatic bids, especially HBCU institutions, have to participate in the play in round, missing the true Tournament experience. Why shouldn’t that be reserved for teams receiving at large bids, preferably the last 4 in. Why haven’t University Presidents, and/or Athletic Directors, made a point to make a stand in this regards? Puts you in the mindset of being allowed to eat on the back porch.

    Its almost to being critical, now its time for survival, and self preservation. What’s more beneficial to TSU, being in the OVC, or the SWAC? Bring back traditional rivalries. I grew up watching, and attending the Bayou Classic, and in later years, it just hasn’t been the same. It’s time to take a stand, and make a change, OUR future truly depends on it.

    • Yes, Getting Money from the big boys will definitely be more difficult.One thing I think they left out in the article was that the Classic paydays are getting longer and can no longer sustain HBCU football. We have more Corporation involved in the Classic, but our pay amounts aren’t increasing. I like the idea of the schools or conferences taking control of the precious classic to make sure that the revenue goes to the school and not too a 3rd party. It is hard to ask other nonprofits to host them because they want a cut too. The Atl game more than likely will not happen this year. What a shame! I just don’t think the HBCU schools really controlled over vision. We gave it two third parties. They are getting paid.

      • There’s a way for everyone involved to make money, but you have to step out on faith, and take the first step. Bypass handouts, for initiative. Don’t let despair determine your destiny. I attended the Atlanta Black Classic for years, it was an annual event on my calendar, and an experience I shared with others. You attend the game in EARLIER years, and nothing within the stadium reflected the games participants. No merchandise, not even stadium cups, NOTHING. The stadium (Georgia Dome) I’m sure made a killing on parking, concessions, Falcons merchandise, etc, in fact, the Falcons usually played at home on that Sunday, so you could use your stub from the Classic, and get a discounted ticket.

        I remember how Budweiser, would make these check presentations, before the game, or at halftime for $5-$10k dollars, and whomever would accept such check, with a smile as big as kool-aid, for the Kodak moment, when Budweiser had already made twice as much, selling Budweiser during tailgating, and prior to kickoff o_O Do blacks REALLY drink Budweiser? It may be the king of beers, or so THEY say, but not in my hood :-\

        Sold out, or pimped over, its EXACTLY the same damn thing. You go on most HBCU campuses, and you see it. The merchandise, team gear in book stores, is cheap, plain, and in no way reflect the spirit of support, or campus life. I had a clothing line, that classmates, and teammates, still ask me about today. I approached the bookstore to form a partnership, and I don’t have to tell you how that turned out, if it ain’t white, it ain’t right 😦 At times, I wonder what messages are being sent? You go to these 3rd party sites for school spirit, and no matter the school, they’re generically all the same.You go in a campus bookstore now, and you’re more likely to see overpriced books, and overpriced snacks 😦

        I remember when I first came to TSU, I stopped by my coaches residence, checked into the dorm, and went to the mall with one of my teammates. I see all these Vanderbilt hats, UT hats, and gear, and this one TSU hat, WAY at the top with dust all over it 😦 Not much has changed. I’ve attended Conference Championship games (SEC) Bowl games (Music City, Liberty, Sugar, Gator, Blue Bonnet, Sun) just to say I went, or attended. The NCAA is phasing HBCU football out. Every conference is now playing on TV, you can damn near catch a game 6 days a week. You have an HBCU match-up sprinkled in here, and there, like pepper sprinkled on grits (I put pepper on everything)

        Every game should be an event, be it basketball, football, no matter the sport. The key is not only to get those students on campus to attend, but those that live in the community to do so as well. Walk around Nashville, you’ll see Vanderbilt gear (and they sucked for a LONG time) and not much TSU gear, in fact, the visibility closely mirrors Fisk. The campus on TSU has improved, but it no longers has that “home” feeling, maybe that’s just me. Maybe this is a bit too personal, but love, and affection for TSU is PERSONAL.

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