I highly doubt any of the 99 players of the Florida Atlantic Owls were consulted about playing in The GEO Group Stadium next year, named after the world’s largest prison-owning corporation. I also doubt I need to illustrate the percentage of the Owls roster who are Black, or the percentage of The GEO Group’s “roster” are Black.
For those who truly believe in the concept of the student-athlete, we are asking these Owls to become refined leaders in the community, and football talents just happen to be a way to get there for free. College sports have produced a plethora of Black leaders in America, including Jim Brown, Kareem Abdul Jabbar, and John Thompson. None of whom I could imagine being affiliated with a corporation that profits off the destruction of Communities of Color. It may as well be called “Prison Stadium.”
The Geo Group’s CEO, George Zoley, is an alum of FAU, and former Chairman of the Board of Trustees, and become a mega-millionaire behind the increased incarceration through the War on Drugs and what’s known as “the Immigrant Goldmine.” This is well documented, including GEO’s flagship role, in a report called “Gaming the System.” One can imagine the effectiveness, considering this bold move, in lobbying policymakers across the country to keep on locking people up. Private prisons make money off the excess, so they need state and federal capacities to burst. Furthermore, they do not make money when a person is released on bail awaiting their immigration proceedings. GEO makes money when a person is detained, as long as possible, before deportation. These shareholder goals have driven policy across the nation.
Of course, the students are free to do as they wish. Some will take the scholarship, play, and keep their mouths shut. Facing a devil’s bargain is never fair, and people should not expect these kids to shoulder the entire burden. History tells us this is not always the case. Now FAU expects to host Middle Tennessee, Marshall, Tulane, New Mexico State, and FIU during the 2013 season. There is an opportunity to carry a message with each one of those visits, or not. It would be interesting if officials from Conference USA or the NCAA themselves stepped in.
The reek of slavery, and exploitation of young Black men, should force this $6 million deal off the table. The insults to players has already begun, and I would not want to be the coach trying to recruit for this school.
Imagine a women’s professional basketball team playing in Larry Flynt Stadium. Or better yet, Stanley Kowalski Stadium.
- FAU stadium to be named for The GEO Group (bizjournals.com)