I've been covering black college sports for years now, and seen/written about a lot of things. From the Grambling boycott to the CIAA fight to wacky games, there's been a lot.
But I've never experienced a week like the one that just passed.
Two student-athletes at HBCUs were both seriously injured, reminding us that football is a dangerous and potentially deadly sport.
Southern receiver Devon Gales was injured in the third quarter of his team's 48-6 loss to Georgia last Saturday, severely injuring his spine. He was carted off the field and underwent extensive surgery the next day. Thanks to the support of both the Southern family and UGA community, Mr. Gales is expected to recover, as doctors announced on Thursday he's likely to spend the next eight weeks. Today it was even announced that some feeling had returned to his parts of his upper body.
People who follow my website, HBCU Gameday, know where I stand on Money Games as it relates to HBCUs. While I understand their necessity, I’m not a big fan of HBCUs at the FCS level playing Top 25 programs to get a check while taking a major pounding, as the long-term benefits have yet to be proven in my opinion. My colleagues at The Shadow League also recently addressed this on going situation of pay day games.
That being said, I was disappointed last weekend when several people jumped to a conclusion about these games that is a major reach.
Minutes after Gales was injured in a game in which Southern was paid $650,000 to come up and perform a band showcase and scrimmage against an SEC squad, people on social media began commenting that this is what happens when teams play so-called "Money Games" against FBS teams.
One need look back no further than three days prior to that to realize what a weak and shallow argument that is against Money Games.
Winston-Salem State defensive back Marquise Gaddy suffered neck and spinal injuries in practice on September 23. Again, he was in practice. Not against neighboring Wake Forest, but in practice against his own teammates at the Division II level.
Like Mr. Gales, Gaddy is expected to have a long hospital say, up to two months, but he is said to be in good spirits and improving.
College athletics is a dangerous game, and a tough business, but lets not lose sight of the fact that these young men take part in an increasingly dangerous sport for our entertainment.
There are many pros and cons to schools playing money games, but lets not use the health and well-being of these young men as pawns in the arguments which arise from the debate of these games.