Oh boy. Bobby Bowden on players not having dads. “They wanna grow up to be men, like their momma. That’s why they wear earrings.” pic.twitter.com/iBhUueqEqw
— Dr Cork Gaines (@CorkGaines) January 4, 2017
Retired Florida State football coach Bobby Bowden relied on a debunked myth to jokingly explain why Black boys grow up “wanting to be like their mama.” Bowden, who coached at FSU from 1976 to 2009, seemed to channel George Karl when he proclaimed the lack of a fatherly presence harms male players’ manliness.
While speaking on ESPN’s “Mike & Mike” Wednesday, Jan. 4, Bowden reflected on the similarities among his predominantly Black players.
“During my last days at Florida State, 65 to 70 percent of my boys did not have a daddy at home,” Bowden said. “They’re raised by mamas. Thank God for them mamas or grandmamas. Or big sister or aunt. But where’s the man?
“A boy needs a male figure, and the girls do, too,” he continued. “Somebody 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 want to be a man like their mama, that’s why they wear earrings.”
Bowden, 87, quickly added that he was joking but Twitter promptly swooped in with criticism.
ESPN host Bomani Jones explained the very thing the elderly ex-coach denounced was something he and others like him take advantage of.
of note: these coaches decry this lack of fathers while exploiting those fathers' absences in recruiting. but alas.
— El Flaco (@bomani_jones) January 4, 2017
Similarly, @Straight_Lowkey noted the players Bowden referenced helped him head to several championships.
Most of the players with No Fathers helped Bobby Bowden become who he is!!!
— c. allen (@Straight_Lowkey) January 4, 2017
@RJtheLifeCoach tweeted about the ignorance of the former coach’s statements.
Bobby Bowden said men wear earrings because they don't have fathers & want to be like they're mothers. Ignores history of kings wearing them
— Shooters shoot… (@RJtheLifeCoach) January 5, 2017
Yet at least one person supported the comment.
Can't disagree with Bobby Bowden about his views on black men not having fathers. He has a point.
— 2002 Chris Jericho (@SlickVick_23) January 5, 2017
Later that same day, Bowden, who caught wind of the negative reaction, spoke to the Tallahassee Democrat and claimed he was telling one of his favorite jokes and it was taken the wrong way. He also refused to apologize for the remarks.
“I was kidding about that,” he said. “And I made a statement, ‘Thank goodness for these sweet mothers.’ And I said I was just kidding, but they leave all that part out.”