The world is changing. The recent killing of another unarmed black man, George Floyd has sparked protests worldwide. From here, we can see an attempt to dismantle institutionalized racism in all forms. This has happened through statements, removing statues and symbols, and a commitment to resources to help bridge the gap between a more inclusive society.
Yesterday I started a petition to rename the stadium and field at my alma mater Florida State University. The movement gained some traction, ok a lot of traction ending up on local and national news outlets, including ESPN, The Bleacher Report, and other places. The stadium is now named after Doak Campbell, who served as President from 1941-1957. Campbell was instrumental in assisting the college with moving from Florida State College For Women to Florida State University. However, he was a segregationist who was intent on keeping Black students off campus and integrating. The suggestion to remove his name from the stadium is not about litigating past transgressions but about moving forward and making sure that our transgressions of the past don’t follow us into the future. Campbell’s stance on social issues has been well documented, and today these views are divisive and racist. The one place that his name should not bear is on the stadium where upwards of 75 to 80% of the players past and present help to build the stadium to what we see today.
FSU has become a national powerhouse and has gathered a rich tradition with its recent success on the field. However, It is time for FSU to evolve. Schools like the University of Florida have made changes, such as no allowing the “Gator Bait” chant, which has been part of a dark history. Other sports entities, such as Nascar, which has a predominantly White audience and drivers, has banned the Confederate flag at all of its events.
At Power Five schools, revenue-generating sports such as football and basketball are the face of the University. Every Saturday, a majority of the players are black football players who fill living rooms with glee and a nice getaway from the pressures of the real world, with a chance to root on their teams. While the debate continues about their compensation, no one can deny that these Black athletes provide a huge service to all stakeholders. Businesses like the hotel industry, rental homes and cars, Airbnbs, concessions, eateries, and the schools enjoy a nice boost in revenue when these athletes perform. Therefore, they should feel comfortable in the environment, which they exude their talents- and know that their black lives matter.
FSU has always been a leader in this charge; we want to continue in that same tradition. Therefore I propose we change the name of the field and the stadium from Doak Campbell Stadium to Bobby Bowden Stadium. The field should also be named in the honor of the players, i.e. The Players Field. In this, Bobby Bowden is honored as a national treasure, who was at the helm of the rise of FSU to a national powerhouse. In addition, the players have something to hang their hat on as well.
Sign the petition here: