Once upon a time in this country, there were ugly, racist, tyrannical rules dictating where a black person could sit on a bus. There were all kinds of these laws, actually, created and defended by the racists who benefited from them.
What kick-started change was an average, everyday woman named Rosa Parks, who had grown tired of being tired. Hers was not the first protest, nor was it particularly the best. It was merely the tipping point for many Americans long since tired of these immoral laws.
On a much less historically significant scale, so it is with Johnny Football — and no, this is not intended in any way to compare the vast evil of Jim Crow to an incompetent NCAA investigation, or to slings from TV commentators.
It is intended to say, wrong is wrong.
Why so many came to Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel’s defense after a ticket broker went to ESPN with allegations that Manziel had broken NCAA rules and accepted payment for his autograph was because we recognize the immorality and absurdity of a system where everybody can make money off these kids except these kids.
This includes, but is not limited to, in the case of Johnny Manziel: Texas A&M University, dirtbag autograph brokers, sports networks and, of course, the NCAA — the biggest hypocrite in the group.
Nor do I buy into this “a rule is a rule” reasoning being touted by a few lonely souls on Twitter. This goes against the very heart of civil disobedience, against anybody who has ever stood up against an unjust law and said, “No thanks, I’m done following that BS.”
Whether Johnny Manziel meant to start a movement or simply wanted new rims for the Benz mommy and daddy bought him matters not in the least. His “autograph” situation provoked ESPN analyst Jay Bilas to depants the NCAA on Twitter with regard to its using athletes’ names to boost jersey sales, thus leading the Association to announce Thursday that it plans to exit the jersey-selling game.
This is not about defending a white kid after standing idly by as kids such as Terrelle Pryor were pilloried. This has absolutely zero to do with race. What I believe to be true is, after years of watching black kids, white kids and mostly poor kids of all colors villainized for accepting a free sandwich or plane fare to go home and attend a funeral or, God forbid, wanting a cut of the billions of dollars they make for people not doing much in the way of heavy lifting, this was America’s tipping point.
We no longer could tolerate this hypocritical, ineffective idiocracy we have governing “student athletes.”
Johnny Football is not the hero whom disenfranchised college athletes and all of us who side with them would have chosen. But he is the hero we need. This marks the first time more people said “what a crock of …” instead of “toss him out of college …" when confronted with one of these “athlete broke the rules” stories.
What it proves is those of us who love watching college sports have finally tired of the hypocrisy, of how unfair the whole setup is, of what is really the immorality of not sharing the profit with the laborers.
The "free scholarship" education argument is tired for a number of reasons, including, but not limited to, the fact there is nothing free about it. They earn that money and billions more.
And if it took a hard-partying, flawed and polarizing Johnny Football to finally wake us up, that is OK. It was never really about him anyway. He was merely the tipping point, the final straw, that moment when people finally said: “We are mad as hell and we’re not going to take it any more.”
My comparison of Johnny Football to Rosa Parks, a brave and willing American hero, is based only on Manziel’s role as a tipping point.
Wrong is wrong, and Johnny Football unwittingly may have accomplished what reasonable people have been unable to — a necessary change to how we treat college athletes.