HOUSTON (Covering Katy News) – The University of Houston is planning a discussion about the NFL kneeling controversy that it claims will “foster a conversation where we can hear both sides,” but under questioning from Covering Katy News the school admits that both sides will not be represented. The panel will be made up of pro-kneeling speakers but there will not be a single panelist who will take the anti-side. Instead, UH is taking the unorthodox position that the moderator will speak for the opposition.
“The moderator is tasked with keeping the discussion balanced acting as the opposing voice and assuring both sides are represented during the conversation,” said UH spokesman Chris Stipes.
How skilled the moderator will be in taking the opposing side is yet to be known. He is reporter Sam Khan Jr. who covers college football and basketball at ESPN.com. He has 11 years of experience in sports journalism according to UH, but most reporters are not accustomed to taking sides.
So if Khan does not balance things out, UH is depending on the public to take on the panelists.
“Members of the audience will have the opportunity to ask questions and make comments directly to members of the panel,” Stipes said. “If someone has an issue with an athlete protesting, they’re encouraged to come and voice their opinion or challenge the athletes. This is the point of assembling the panel this way,” Stipes said.
But the event starts at 11:30 a.m. when most people are working. The media has been invited to attend, and if the anti-side is not represented it could change the stories that air on the evening news and in the following day’s newspaper.
All of the significant Houston-area media, including Covering Katy News, are being invited to attend and produce stories about this event.
The panelists are experienced at arguing their positions. They are:
John Carlos: Former track and field athlete and professional football player who stood with his fist in the air on the winners’ podium at the 1968 Olympics in support of global human rights.
Arian Foster: Former NFL all-pro running back and the Houston Texans’ all-time leading rusher. Foster knelt during the national anthem as a member of the Miami Dolphins.
Gerald Horne: Moores Professor at the University of Houston’s Department of African American Studies.
Ed Thomas: Former all-American New Orleans recruit, University of Houston graduate and professional football player for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Buffalo Bills.
The press release did not indicate why Thomas was part of the panel. There was no additional information on his background. Our background check did not find any writings or statements from Thomas on the subject of activism or kneeling during the national anthem.
“This discussion is jointly produced by the University of Houston’s Jack J. Valenti School of Communication, the Department of Health and Human Performance Sports Administration Program and Department of African American Studies,” the UH press release stated.
What: “The Game Changers: From Raised Fists to #TakeAKnee”
When: Thursday, Nov. 16; 11:30 a.m. – 1 p.m.
Where: UH Student Theater, 4455 University Dr., Houston, TX 77204 (Map)