We wouldn’t normally talk about the absurd comments of a backward former coach talking out of his ass like it’s 1962. But Bobby Bowden isn’t just any former coach. The legend most notable coached the Florida State Seminoles football team from 1976 to 2009, is fourth overall for career wins as a college football head coach and won two national championships.
On Wednesday, Bowden, who was born in 1929 in Birmingham, Ala., decided to joke about his former players with ESPN’s duo Mike & Mike.
During my last days at Florida State, 65 or 70 percent of my boys did not have a daddy at home. They’re raised by mamas. Sweet old mamas. Thank God for them mamas. Or grandmama. Many times it was grandmama. Or big sister. Or aunt. But where’s the man? A boy needs a male figure and the girls do too. Someone to discipline them and make them be a man. I used to kid about this — they grew up wanting to be like their mama. They grew up wanting to be a man, like their mama. Because that’s the way they were raised. That’s why they wear earrings.
The Bowden mentality seems stuck in his hometown during his birth year, this notion that men are tough and women are weak and young men can’t become men without a father.
Certainly there are key social and socioeconomic issues of broken homes and struggles some single parents face without a two-income or two-adult home. Bowden wasn’t talking about these important issues. His was straight-up sexism with a healthy dose of racism, some of the same stereotypical nonsense that continues to say gay men are weak and don’t belong in elite-level sports.
Never mind that his players were, to a man, big, strong men capable of enduring the rigor of a Division I college football schedule, from the field to the weight room to the study hall.
“Its a ridiculous statement,” said high school basketball coach Anthony Nicodemo, who works with young men from across races and socioeconomic status in Yonkers. “Coaches often get stuck in their own norms, when many of our athletes’ lives are for from normal. To suggest that a kid would take on a perceived feminine quality because they are raised by a woman is ludicrous.
“Some of the toughest kids I know were raised by their mom and wear earrings.”
While Bowden may be long removed from his coaching perch at Florida State, make no mistake about the prevalence among coaches of some of the stuff he espoused to ESPN. The retired old man was just foolish enough to actually say it.