Black History Month: The Syracuse 8 advocated for an end to discrimination in football

Syracuse 8 - ending discrimination in football
Published: Feb. 24, 2023 at 4:49 PM EST
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BLOOMFIELD, CT (WFSB) - There’s no better way to celebrate Black History Month than to learn more about the story behind the Syracuse 8.

They were 8 black football players who advocated for an end to discrimination against black players at Syracuse University in 1970.

John Lobon is a Connecticut native still living in the area was one of the eight who shared his story of the boycott that came at a personal cost.

“I started my sophomore year, but I was benched after the first game,” Lobon said.

Lobon and two of the other eight players recently spoke at Goodwin University about what let up to the boycott in the spring of 1970.

They explained there was a lot that led up the event from whispered racial slurs to not only harsh but also pointed and blatant racism.

“When you get called a boy and you know they know your name, but still say, ‘boy come over here.”

The 8 players all saw limited playing time not because they weren’t good. Lobon said it was because they were black.

“We always believed the best ball players should be starting,” Lobon said. “We always believed, we all put the uniform on the same way.”

They fought for more academic support as well especially after returning from away games.

“The white ball players had academic advisors,” Lobon said. “Those in my class had to inform me what happened in that class.”

After everything, the main reason why they boycotted was to fight for fairness; they wanted a coach who saw and hear them.

The 8 didn’t play that fall. Only two of the others ever suited up again and Lobon was one of them.

He played half a season before graduating in 1973.

Despite what he went through, Lobon found love for Syracuse University.

Lobon said that his love for the university “came over time.”

The university apologized in 2006, and Lobon said that went a long way.

Lobon said, “we were now appreciated for what we sat out to do.”