Illustration by Ron Rogers for the Chronicle
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Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA).
It was the day after what one attendee
described as the "Massacre in Missouri."
Jonathan Butler, a graduate student
with the Ferguson movement on his
resume, started a hunger strike at the
University of Missouri a week ago to
protest the "longstanding racist climate."
Student and faculty organizations soon
backed him; and then, to everybody's
amazement, the mostly black football
team took to the field, so to speak. The rest
ESPN's Stephen A. Smith - resplen
dent in a Hugo Boss athletic slim fit suit -
the moderator, was seated on a stool
behind a counter outfitted to look like the
one at Woolworth's Five & Dime in
Greensboro, vintage 1961.
To protect their identities, SEC mem
ber institution presidents, athletic direc
tors, coaches and their assistants came
dressed as Gators, Bulldogs, Wildcats,
Tigers, Razorbacks and Gamecocks. Only
die-hard college gridiron fans know what
a Commodore is; but, it has a military ring,
as does Colonel. The Rebel in the room
couldn't hide at all. An Aggie was dressed
as a haystack, a needle sticking straight
through its torso.
Nick Saban of Alabama, who makes
$7 million a year, came disguised as a wad
of $100 dollar bills, since he was unable to
mask as a Crimson Tide - whatever that is.
"Nick, you open up and chair this since
you have more experience with them, at
least, winning, than the rest of us," said
Saban's Superboss, Greg Sankey, the SEC
Commissioner, who was concealed inside
one of those oversized checks donors give
charities; $310 million was in the amount
line, representing the revenue distributed
to member schools in 2014, an average of
$22 million per school.
The crisis mode was like the atmos
phere just before the kickoff of the nation
al title game. After all, more Americans -
especially in the Bible-Belt South - attend
college football games than go to church
"That's the metric and the money we
are talking about," said Saban, in the voice
used when a team has been beaten like it
stole something. What went wrong in the
locker rooms at the University of
Other pros, or at least where they
stood, were in the room. "These boys been
listenin' to Kareemthought World Wide
Wes, aka William Sydney Wesley, who
was seated next to the basketball coach
from the University of Kentucky. Mr.
Wesley is noted for his dealings with
numerous high-profile college coaches,
NBA players and their representatives, and
is considered the most influential man in
the business side of pro basketball.
College kids, like the ones at Missouri,
know World Wide Wes.
Kareem had said that he was not
impressed with Michael Jordan's decision
to put Air Jordans over having a political
voice. "Republicans buy my shoes' too,"
Jordan had asserted. Hie Missouri players
headed back to the locker room, averting a
$1 million fine and forfeiture had they not
suited up against Brigham Young this
LeBron James was mentioned by
someone for his "act of disloyalty to the
hand that feeds him" for leading die Heat
players onto the floor in hoodies after
Zimmerman was found not guilty for the
death of Tray von Martin. "Is he one of us
or one of them?," someone from
Tennessee volunteered to wonder, adding
how the Clippers players had left him
scratching his head with all the fuss over
what their owner Donald Sterling said.
Sterling got much the same fate as the top
guys at Mizzou last week.
Someone trying to disguise his
Mississippi twang suggested that all black
college athletes at predominately white
colleges be put "in classes like die ones
they have down there in North Carolina."
Stephen A., now mimicking Howard
Cossell, introduced a panel titled: "What
to do if your black athletes are thoughtful
and utter political statements."
"Hey, stop crying those kinda tears!,"
shrieked Saben, to whomever was inside a
big alligator costume. It's hard to know
how the Notre Dame mascot, somebody
black in the get up of a leprechaun, got to
the conference. But, he was last seen
kneeling, saying a Hail Mary prayer.
Tommie Smith and John Carlos, real
life rebels, wiped the counter of the tears
and sweat with towels they kept as sou
venirs from the 1968 Olympics. Michael
Sams, the first openly gay NFL draftee,
was back at his alma mater in Columbia,
raising a black power salute to a rally cel
ebrating victory over a pattern of racist
Dr. Bill Turner is a noted educator,
writer and thinker who called Winston
Salem home for many years. Reach him at
Honor our veterans by expanding Medicaid
North Carolina ranks
eighth for veteran popula
tion as there are nearly
800,000 veterans living in
the Tar Heel state. The
reports that in 2014 there
were four VA Hospitals, six
Vet Centers, and 16 com
clinics throughout the state.
Given the veteran pop
ulation, it is easy to see
why the VA secretary,
Robert McDonald, has
reported much difficulty in
meeting demands for veter
an health care with limited
resources and facilities.
In North Carolina, only
321,459 veterans are
enrolled in the VA Health
Care System and only
214,215 patients were
reported as treated in North
Carolina in 2014.
Further, 316,000 veter
ans are age 65 years and
over, and thus qualify for
Medicare, which makes it
easier to access health care
outside of the VA Health
Unfortunately, there are too
many veterans that have
difficulty accessing care,
and with statistics showing
that one out of every 10
veterans under age 65 years
do not use VA health care
and do not have health
insurance shows that the
United States has much
room to improve how we
care for those who have
served this country.
Fortunately, with the pas
sage of the Affordable Care
Act (ACA), a pathway did
open to make health care to
veterans more affordable
and accessible. The path
way is Medicaid expan
Research has shown
that four out of every 10
uninsured veterans fall into
the Medicaid coverage gap.
This means that many vet
erans and their spouses
make too much money to
qualify for Medicaid (note:
there are additional criteria
for Medicaid eligibility)
and too little to qualify for
financial help or subsidies
to enroll in the ACA
through the Marketplace.
A report by the Robert
Wood Johnson Foundation
that used data from the
Community Survey shows
that there are approximate
ly 23JXX) veterans in North
Carolina that would benefit
from Medicaid expansion.
spouses of veterans would
also be able to access
affordable health care if
North Carolina expands
So as we honor those
who' have fought and
served our country, let's not
forget that North Carolina
has an opportunity to pro
tect our veterans and their
families' health by closing
the coverage gap.
As Medicaid reform
moves forward, our policy
makers can include
Medicaid expansion so that
veterans' mental and physi
cal health is protected.
Ciara Zachary is a pol
icy analyst the N.C. Justice
Center's Health Access
Coalition. She is a publii
health researcher witl
experience in evaluating
public health service pro
grams, health advocacy
policy analysis and healtl
NC Policy Watch