The Lack Of Exposure For Big HBCU Football Games

By L.A. Batchelor
Updated: August 30, 2006

NORTH CAROLINA — Well after six years, the I-40 Battle between the Rams of Winston Salem State and the Aggies of NC A & T renews this Saturday at Aggie Stadium in Greensboro.

Fans and alumni of both Universities will cheer, jeer, brag and boast before, during and after the game about a particular touchdown, interception, tackle, fumble or big play made by their team to win or lose the game.
People traveling to the Triad area from all over the country will be ready to yell and scream at others on the other side of the field with the excitement and enthusiasm of a huge Division I football bowl game while some will come for the social side of things which includes the battle of the band at halftime.
But with all the hoopla and seeming exposure for this historic renewal on the gridiron, much has not been made about this game here locally. Why?
Let’s take a look at the football here in the area taking place this weekend:
At Groves Stadium, the Wake Forest Demon Deacons will be hosting the Syracuse Orangemen at 6:30pm in Winston Salem (the same time of the I-40 Battle). As much as I am a Northeast homer, do you or I really care about this game? Other than the schools, probably not.
Elizabeth City State University travels to Salisbury, NC to face Livingstone College. Again, a nice match-up for HCBU’S but nothing of the significance and magnitude of the I-40 battle.
With all due respect to No. 1 Hampton vs No. 2 Grambling along with Delaware State vs Florida A & M, those are incredible match-ups in the MEAC but they are also nationally televised games on the ESPN network and are not so much locally recognized.
The I-40 battle however not only has historic connections but great story lines. Take for instance, coach Kermit Blount of WSSU and coach Lee Fobbs Jr. Both going into “FIRST” this season.
Coach Blount in his FIRST official football season out of an official CIAA football season on their way to the MEAC and coach Lee Fobbs Jr in not only his FIRST year as Aggie coach but his FIRST head coaching job in his career.
Both come from storied HBCU programs with coach Blount coming from the perennial power house South Carolina State under the legendary coach Joe Taylor and coach Fobbs coming from the great Grambling State University and playing under the legendary coach Eddie Robinson.
With all of this to look forward to in this revision of HBCU’S residing down the interstate from each other, you would think the exposure on television, radio and print would be enormous but that doesn’t seem to be the case.
The problem here and abroad is that HBCU’S are only recognized mostly in the negative. In other words, it’s not news unless it’s negative news.
The media here in the Triad and in other cities who have the honor and distinction of having an historically black college in their town would rather talk about things student-athletes do wrong rather than the positive accomplishments they achieve on and off the field or court.
Mainstream sports talk shows, sports anchors on television and sports beat writers focus on controversy and scandals to increase, revenue, ratings and sell papers rather than the significance of an entire area of the country who now can look to 1 game per year in football that engulfs 2 cities, 2 institutions and many alumni and fans.
Oh, now if you are an athlete that attends a Division 1 school or if in my area, an ACC school, then that’s a different story. The perception here is the only good and real football is ACC football.
Have you watched the teams in the state of North Carolina that are Division 1 and are in the ACC? Let’s just say their is a reason that the Mountaineers of Appalachian State is the FIRST and only school that brought home a national championship and could do so once again this season.
Why does this occur? What’s the reasoning behind it? Is it racism?
That’s hard to prove and believe since the mainstream media here does make a big deal about black players that are great, talented and make big plays but that also could be because the black players get a past because they attend a ACC school or Division 1 school.
I think it’s solely because of the people who control the media, where they are from, what they are use to and what they were taught. Some sports reporters, talk show host and anchors are not from here but from big cities that have big time football and never looked at the HBCU’S at big time football.
Others that move here rely on the idiots and close minded individuals that feel HBCU’S are insignificant, boring and not worth a breath of dialog.
The others just have another agenda and giving HBCU’S POSITIVE EXPOSURE are not in the cards
Now if you are a talented player, you stay out of trouble and are blessed to make it to the NFL, then you get a pass or you are somewhat accepted (i.e., Jerry Rice who played and starred at Mississippi Valley State).
If you are a talented player, you stay out of trouble and still make it to the NFL but get into trouble after you are drafted, you are doomed for your career (I.E. Terell Owens).
Now I am not a Owens sympathizer but enough T.O. talk is enough. I am tired of glancing at Sports Center on ESPN and noticing their lead story is T.O.
I started this conversation and topic by letting you know about 1 game in 1 area that means a lot to a community both from a football standpoint, bragging rights and a social and economical standpoint for many who care.
We know the alumni of both WSSU and A&T care, the surrounding community around the schools care and local businesses, civic organizations, the conference they represent and sites like the one I write for care tremendously.
The question now is how do we open the eyes of the mainstream media that think Division 1 football is the only football that matters. I don’t know if I have the answer to the question but I compare the dilemma to major league baseball prior to the great Jackie Robinson breaking through into the game with the Brooklyn Dodgers over a half century ago.
Baseball couldn’t stake claim to having the greatest baseball players in the game unless they permitted black players to play the game.
Most who know the game understood that black players could have and would have dominated in the league if they had the opportunity to play is the same as sports reporters, anchors and talk show host here and abroad having the audacity to think if you play at a HBCU in football or any sport equates to INSIGNIFICANT athletics and the best is in Division 1.
The irony of the topic is most of those ignorant people that I know never played any real organized sports let alone at a SIGNIFICANT place like a HISTORICALLY BLACK COLLEGE OR UNIVERSITY