Should Student Athletes Get Involved In Social Issues
By John Ventola
The announced resignations Monday of University of Missouri president Tim Wolfe and school chancellor R. Bowen Loftin for alleged failure to address racial incidents, discrimination, and major tension on the flagship campus in Columbia have been met with glowing media comments and student celebrations.
Students, and I will add most seen in celebratory mode are black, are smiling into cameras, and announcers and printed media are all taking the high road, the P C toll-
way. Not one editorial or story, and not one talk show I have seen, have mentioned that this could be a dangerous precedent.
To me, the events of the past three days is a sad commentary on the status of today’s society as a whole, and the gradual breakdown of all top level authority specifically. The fact that student-athletes, who are given a free education in exchange for using their athletic skill-sets in competition, can basically hold a major university for ransom is appalling. While threatening to boycott a scheduled football game may seem simple, if the player boycott had been carried out this week for the Brigham Young game, it would have cost University of Missouri more than $1 million.
It appears Wolfe was indecisive and negligent, slow to act on actual and perceived racial injustices suffered by black students on campus. I am not saying he and Mizzou’s chancellor should not have been pressured to resign. I am saying it should have been handled by the University of Missouri system, and not because a group of athletes decided to take a stand with student activists. The outcome, to me, was just, although I have yet to hear anything from the university, or anyone else for that matter, on how racial incidents on campus will be handled going forward.
Students are smiling not because anyone has offered change, they are grinning because they had their way. And that, frankly, is somewhat unsettling. Mizzou’s student
body president, who is black, and other campus activists basically recruited the black football players to make a more powerful statement than they were able to muster on their own.
Talking head Paul Finebaum, no doubt a bit loopy from last week’s Alabama victory, said today that the resignations were the biggest victory on a college campus this year. Really? Go drink some more of that crimson and white Kool-Aid Paul.
Make no mistake. A couple of things were at play in how this unfortunate scenario played out. Wolfe appears to have been clueless, and from all objective reports I have read, totally insulated, and non-responsive to black student concerns. And many of the students either saw the Ferguson, Missouri incidents personally, or knew people from the small town not far from Columbia that erupted last year. Right or wrong, they all saw what unity in large numbers could accomplish. It did not matter if the outcome was right or wrong. Why are they celebrating if no solid actions or changes have been announced?
Northwestern University (Evanston, Illinois) tried to get approval on a player’s union last year. That attempt at wresting some power from the universities and the NCAA failed. Apparently, free tuition is not enough, allowable stipends are not enough. They want to be called college athletes, get paid, and more say in other things such as health care (injuries).
While the Missouri black football player revolt will be recognized as the first unified effort
by college athletes to address real and perceived injustices, it will also be noted as the first chink in the armor of major collegiate athletic programs, and its governing body, the NCAA. The University of Missouri Athletic Department was rendered powerless, and even the NCAA could not help.
Missouri, mired in a four-game SEC losing streak, and 1-5 overall in the league, showed their best offense of the year. Too bad it came against school authority, and not on the football field. Coach Gary Pinkel was put into a tough spot by the boycott. Something not needed, considering the season his team is currently having. Be stern, stand behind the school administration, or stand with boycotting players?
Pinkel could have probably fielded a team without the boycotting athletes, but nowadays black athletes make up most of the major college rosters. By doing so he would have probably ended his career as a college football coach because it would have become near impossible to recruit black athletes in the future, whether at Missouri or elsewhere.
That is my point. Racial discrimination should be addressed immediately on all fronts. It should not be allowed, much less reach the-magnitude it did at Missouri. However, future decisions, and in some cases repercussions, will be the result of what was
accomplished with bullying tactics this week. This time it was veiled in “discrimination issues”. Next time, what will it be?
Black athletes welded power over those in authority. The football coach, the athletic director, the president, and the chancellor were put in untenable situations. They had only one choice in each case. Finkel had to stand with the boycott in order to save his job and that of the athletic director, and the president and chancellor had to resign.
Most are stopping short of calling it what it was. An uprising, plain and simple. Major collegiate athletics saw a power shift this week, and the landscape of college sports will forever be changed.
Not discussed now is the likely possibility that any perception of injustice will be met with similar tactics in the future. That is a real concern for this life-long sports fan.Thanks For Visiting JV Sport Shots .Com’s Website And Viewing Our Latest Blog(s) / Page(s). We Would Really Appreciate It If You Would Leave Us A Comment Or Remark Below. This Helps Us Provide Great Sports Content; You Would Like To See In Future Posts.
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