From left to right: Grambling State Tigers linebacker Jacarde Carter (54), TCU wide receiver Brandon Carter (3) and Tigers defensive back Naquan Smith (26). (AP Photo/LM Otero)
In a move that has sent shockwaves through sports world, the players on the Grambling State Tigers football team have gone on strike. The budget cuts that have ravaged the school over the last five years have found reflection in the athletic department and the team decided that they cannot take it anymore because, simply, it is just not safe.
There have been reams of articles analyzing the problems at Grambling State and whether the players, by refusing to take the field, have gone too far in expressing their discontent. These are not the voices we should be privileging right now. The best possible starting point for people new to this story and trying to understand what is happening would be to read the actual letter issued by the team explaining why they had to take these measures. Below I reprint the letter in its entirety with the hope that their demands and their voice claim center stage in the struggle to come. Take the time to read what they have had to endure as a team and why they are saying that enough is enough. —Dave Zirin
Dear Grambling State University Administration,
We, the Grambling State University Football team, come to you with the intent to make a complaint against Grambling State University Administration, and to reach some type of solution. We would like support and assistance while reaching this solution. As a team our goal is to build a solid foundation through team work, and to make progress during our time here at Grambling State University. Unfortunately, there are certain factors that are hindering us from reaching our goals. We have concerns with facilities, equipment, travel arraignments, summer camp arraignments, alumni association and friends of football funding, and our head coach.
The athletic complex is a place where we as a team prepare for competition. In our opinion, the complex is in horrible condition, and has manyhazards that may contribute to our overall health. First, the complex is filled with mildew and mold. Mildew and mold can be seen on the ceiling, walls and floor, and are contributing to water leaks because of faltering walls and ceilings. Grambling student-athletes are not the only ones complaining about this particular hazard. When Lamar University came to play our team they refused to go in the locker room for half time due to mold and mildew.
Second, the weight room and care of game and practice gear are in bad condition, in areas where the floor is coming up, it causes players to trip while lifting large amounts of weight. Equipment in the weight room is falling apart, as well as workout benches are tearing and ripping apart. We as student–athletes would also like better detergent for our uniforms and practice uniforms. The uniforms are poorly cleaned and contribute to the multiple cases of staph infection. Several players have been infected with staph multiple times.