Gladiators & Spectators 2.0 … 2010 – 2020

Gladiators & Spectators
August31/ 2021

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 August 31, 2020


Yo Adrian… Every Power5 FB /BB coach in America is scurrying to produce his very own I Love Me Some BLM video – also known as SAVE MY BUTT & OUR RECRUITING Videos.  Ergo I figured I would Repost my original Gladiators & Spectators column from TEN YEARS AGO.

In 2010, Jemele Hill was getting her first set of cornrows … and Lebron had yet to make his first Bazillion … and I alerted you’ans about Gladiators & Spectators.

FYI:  Mack Brown’s I LOVE BLM video is 4:30.  Mack is very passionate.  Mack does NOT mention that 5 year old little white boy brutally murdered in Wilson … or the Father/Daughter murdered in South Carolina.   

Why didn’t he?.  My guess is Mack is not recruiting 5-year old little white boys in Wilson .

Gladiators & Spectators is like The Yellowstone Caldera … WHEN it goes KABOOM … there’s gonna be a helluva mess to clean up. … Tick Tock… Tick Tock …


Gladiators & Spectators 2.0: 2010 – 2020

Originally posted August 15, 2010 – TEN Years Ago


With everyone lathered up over sports agents and athletes, this is an appropriate time to bring up some serious ponderables.    Spectators vs Gladiators?

WARNING: This column is looong.  There is a bathroom break 2/3 way thru.

Will the obvious insights I’m pointing out make the slightest difference in ACC athletics or College Sports.  Not a chance.

Although notable “insiders” tell me I’m “nailing it”.   This comes down to personal opinions.  Your opinion is the only one that really matters… to you.  Right?

Some fans say “paying college athletes” will solve all the problems.   Some fans say “a free education” is enough payment.  Both are trite and should be ignored.

The problems imbedded deep within college athletics have outlived Kindly Ol’ Bill Friday and likely will outlive Kindly Ol’ BobLee.


College football players have always been a swaggering bunch.  Red Grange swaggered (and galloped) around The Univ of Illinois.  Jim Thorpe swaggered around Carlisle Indian School.  A lot of my “quite white” friends swaggered around UNC in the late 60s.

Swaggering = boys being boys i.e. committing petty crimes.  It’s being bigger & stronger than others and simply because.  Swaggering at UNC (and NCSU) prior to the late 60s was all done by white boys. ……

If Alonzo Squires was standing in the Franklin / Columbia intersection urinating at midnight – white athletes put him there.  If a big boy hit a little boy at a frat party – the big boy was a white athlete.  If a coed woke up in The Arboretum without her underwear … a white athlete likely took’em.  There was plenty of beer and liquor but no drugs to speak of.

Some white athletes came from wealthy families. 90% came from the middle class spectrum.  A few even came from hard-scrabble situations.  In the 60s there were less than ten black athletes TOTAL at UNC.  About the same or fewer at NCState and Duke.

There was one very dominant “culture” at UNC and NCSU and Duke.  And everyone happily embraced it.

A lot of the UNC / NCSU / Duke fans who matriculated back then now hold positions of influence at their alma maters and in their communities.  Their memories of college athletes, while no longer valid, are firmly imbedded.

In the 60s: … 98% of the fans in Kenan Stadium / Riddick & Carter Stadium were white.

Players from Venus – Fans from Venus too. … Even the players from Venus/New York at least looked like the fans from Venus/Sanford. 40 years later, different paradigms are in place.

Today: …2010 –  80% of the FB and BB athletes at UNC / NCSU are African American.

That % is higher if you only consider the two deep depth chart.   FB walk-ons and BB’s cute little “biscuit boys” skew the #s slightly… but really help boost the team’s GPA average.

With all due respect to the cohesive magic of “Diversity”, cultural chasms exists …. and specifically, in college football.  Mars has one culture – Venus has quite another.

94%+ of the fans in Power5 stadiums are still white. 

80% of the gladiators toiling in the stadiums / arenas are now black.


Jumping to 2020 … The Univ of Iowa FB program is EN FUEGO.  This Spring they were hit with a  long list of “racial harassment” abuses by the FB coaching staff.   The State of Iowa has a 3% AfAm population.  The student body at Univ of Iowa mirrors that 3% AfAm. … The Hawkeye FB roster is 70% AfAm. … and then …

It turns out that Iowa’s longtime Head FB coach – Kurt Ferentz … has a level of racial sensitivity that would cause Al Campanis, Jimmy The Greek and Fuzzy Zoeller to blush.

What Could Possibly Go Wrong with THAT? 


A goodly number of the black gladiators come from impoverished situations with cultures VERY different from “the suite people”..

Q:  BobLee, are ALL black athletes from impoverished situations?
A:  No, but apparently many are.  It is a convenient stereotype depending on one’s agenda.

Q:  BL, what’s the connection between impoverished situations and athletic prowess?
A:  I have no idea.  If anyone does, let me know.

Q:  Is black culture “bad” or just “different from white culture”?
A:  I’m pretty sure “just different” but different is not always appreciated by differing cultures.

Players now from Mars – Fans still from Venus.  

Jock swaggering is no more/less than its ever been.   85% of swaggering athletes will commit 85% of the mischief. … If you have noticed that UNC FB/BB athletes are now predominately black, you are not “a racist”.  You simply have a keen perception of the obvious.

Remember all this was written back in 2010.

Keen perception of the obvious.

If the predominance of black athletes in FB and BB bothers you; you might (1) sign up for sensitivity training or (2) become a soccer or field hockey fan. If you think it makes no difference whatsoever.  You are into terminal naïveté.

Players Are From Mars – Fans Are From Venus.  … It makes a difference.

UNC fans learned more about Marvin Austin the past ten days than they really wanted to know.  His physical appearance, his language, his general deportment, his style.   After three years … Marv, we hardly knew you …

After three years in Chapel Hill, Marvin is still Marvin From Deepest Darkest DC,    He is not Marvin From Meadowmont.  His Pygmalion clean-up didn’t take at all.  Marvin came to UNC from a quite different culture.  He decided to keep the culture he came with.  Does that bother you?

Is this conversation making you uncomfortable?  Why?

OK… I Warned You This Was a Long One!

Has seeing those “dreads” hanging out of Marvin’s helmet for three years bothered some of you?  The Kupec brothers nor Buddy Curry wore “dreads”.

If you are a UNCer from the 60-70-80s, “Little Ricky” Packard mighta been in your Portuguese 101 class.  Brandon Spoon lived in the apartment above your son in summer school.  Mark Paschal’s mom and dad go to your church.

Do you have a personal connection to any player on the current UNC FB team?   Had you ever thought about that before right now?

Is the reality that:  You have no connection to them …… except as your entertainment on Fall Saturdays.

AND: They have no connection to you or to your school …… other than prep for “the league”.

Every college has its legendary campus jock tales.  Those ribald tales grow larger with each telling.  “Two blondes in Larry Miller’s corvette” becomes “four Playboy bunnies and Kitty Carmichael in a French maid costume.”  Such is the evolution of ribald jock tales.

Many UNC fans vicariously imagined partying with Larry Miller… or taking a Mod Civ test for Billy Cunningham.

How many UNC fans imagined themselves at that South Beach pool party with Marvin and the Lil’ Nell-ettes , swigging Purple Drank while poppin’ caps at passing porpoises in the Intercoastal.  Do you know what Purple Drank is?

Marvin Austin is an extreme exaggeration of UNC FB 2010.  That Rival fans LOVE to refer to.

Chris Washburn & Charles Shackleford were extreme exaggerations of NCSU BB in the 80s.  That Rival fans LOVE to refer to.

Butch & Blake are not recruiting Angels or Thugs.  They are simply recruiting the biggest, fastest, strongest, most aggressive football talent they can entice.  Thugs often get caught in that net.  Angels rarely do.  I don’t know why. … Is that OK with you?  Yes, is an acceptable answer.

Q:  BobLee, Why do Butch/Blake and Roy primarily recruit black athletes?
A:  Willie Sutton robbed banks because “that’s where the money is”.   Black athletes in FB and BB are generally better than white athletes.

Q:  BobLee, why is that?
A:  There are many theories involving physiology, kinesiology and, sociology.  One or more of those “ology” theories is probably correct.  I don’t know which ones.

Q:  BobLee, suppose Butch and Roy were “told” to recruit more white athletes?
A:   (1) It would generate some terrific column fodder for me.  (2) Our current W-L % would diminish considerably and (3) the slimy agents lurking on the UNC campus would hand out different shiny baubles.

Q:  BL, are black athletes more susceptible to the siren’s song of sleazy agents?
A:  I don’t think so.  IMO “culture” and “character” are unrelated. A sleazy siren can sing in many styles.  Many might disagree with me at this point.

The price of seats (and suites) keeps going higher.  The culture gap twixt the country club/corporate fans and the gladiatorial entertainers on the floor of the arena grows wider and deeper.  It will be even wider in 3-5-7 years. … (and by 2020 !!!)

If they tuck their funny hair inside their helmets and wear high socks to cover their calves; could you pretend it was Don McCauley or Harris Barton or Jeff Saturday?  Would that reduce the perceived cultural chasm?

To graybeards, Carolina Football is still “Choo Choo”.  To my momma who died at 93 six years ago, Carolina Basketball was Rusty Clark.  Very tall – very white – became a doctor.  That worked really well for a lot of UNC fans besides my mother.

Who personifies Carolina Football and Basketball to you? … Would “my momma” identify with Rasheed Wallace or “Makhtar”?

BobLee …. We get your point.  Talk about Basketball.  OK.

Gladiators and Spectators


This is the Bathroom Break I promised you.  

You’ve got eight minutes.   GO!


For 50 years Carolina Basketball hasn’t changed its culture OR HAS IT. OK, a couple of scary guys over those 50 years but easy to overlook a Makhtar – Rasheed – a Rashad – a PJ.

Team ethnicity % shifted but the “Look” of Carolina BB stayed the same.  Polite, clean-cut, Gerald Unk’s lasagna, Alexander Julian shirts/ties.

OOPS … remember “the pissed-off posse”?

The Hiccup in those 50 years was The Doherty Era.  Matt actually said he wanted “a team of Mandingo warriors”.  Look up the term.

Recall the scene at Matt’s Public Lynching w/ Meez and Dickie hemming and hawing while the media snapped photos of “the pissed-off posse” on the front row ….. Felton, May, McCants, et al decked out in FUBU, cornrows and angry defiance.

EMTs in Charlotte treated sixteen cases of “the vapors” among the ladies bridge circle at Quail Hollow Country Club.  A Cultural chasm in Carolina BB was unsettling.

THE FIRST THING that Ol’ Roy did when he finally arrived from Lawrence wasHe ran the FUBU posse thru the well-oiled Carolina Basketball Bleaching Machine.  VOILA!

On that glory road to St Louis the former FUBU warriors were sportin’ Brooks Brothers button downs and peace was restored at Quail Hollow CC.  Speaking of Quail Hollow, Johnny Harris & his South Park Pals won the lottery to become Butch’s official Carolina friends.   Nothing wrong with that.  All fine folks far as I know.

I wonder…  Were Marvin or Rashad ever invited to lunch at Quail Hollow CC ?? … or at Raleigh’s Carolina CC?  … or Greensboro’s Sedgefield CC … or … or…  A LOT of Rams Clubbers COULD invite them as their guests … No???


Let’s not even get in to …

“Daddy, guess who I’m bringing home for Thanksgiving.  Does Mom know how to fix Chicken & Waffles?” …  Uh Oh!


Roy, Mack, Coach K, Dave Doeren … all know that Fan Perception is all that really matters in keepin’ peace with the Fat Cats.

Disguise that wide cultural chasm, by simply having “Them” Look and Act Like “Us”.  OK, that works… for now!  … Uh Oh!


Want More of BobLeeSays – Click HERE!


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