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Dr. Boyce: Violent Punch and Racial Injustice at The University of Oregon

by on September 12, 2009

by Dr. Boyce Watkins, Syracuse University 

When I saw the video of the punch out by LeGarrette Blount of The University of Oregon, I was shocked and disappointed. This knock out blow that the athlete laid on Byron Hout of Boise State certainly has no place in the game of football – at least after the clock has struck zero. The University of Oregon acted immediately, suspending Blount for the entire season, effectively ending his career with the team. This incident is also going to likely hurt his chances of having an NFL career.

Here are some reasons that Oregon State was dead wrong in their decision.

1) The the university has no right to be judge and jury on this case. Where’s the union for college athletes? Oh yeah, they don’t have one. This incident is a reminder and sick reflection of the fact that college student athletes should have the same labor rights as the rest of us. Instead, they are subject to the harsh decisions of universities who care more about their revenues and reputations than the athletes themselves. Before you destroy a young man’s career, there should be hearings and a full investigation by a trustworthy panel of individuals who consider his well-being as part of the process. The idea that someone moved so quickly without knowing all the facts is absolutely ridiculous.

2) He is young. Since when can’t one 22-year old football player punch out another one and not pay for it for the rest of his life? Does it really make sense that the university feels that this man’s years of hard work are so disposable that they can simply throw them in the trash without consequence? Coaches are arrested for DWIs, commit crimes and do all kinds of egregious things, and are simply expected to go find another job. Blount, because of NCAA restrictions, can’t simply join the team at another university. His career is over.

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