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Racism and responsibility

Why the Missouri Tigers football team's boycott was wrong

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The University of Missouri’s school president stepped down today amidst race-related controversy on campus.

Tim Wolfe, under pressure to resign from his position after multiple reported racist incidents around and connected to the campus, and after a perceived lack of reaction by Wolfe during the incidents, relented to the mounting pressure.

Unrest at the university began in September, when the President of the Missouri Students Association, Payton Head, posted on his Facebook page that he had been repeatedly racially abused while on campus.

The post went viral, and Wolfe’s reaction, or lack thereof, caused demonstrations of protest during the school’s homecoming parade.  When Wolfe’s car was blocked by protestors, he refused to exit the vehicle and speak with the angry crowd.

Later that same month, a swastika was drawn with human feces on a door in one of the university’s dormitory buildings.

This weekend, the protests reached critical mass when black members of the school’s football team declared they would sit out until Wolfe was either removed or resigned from his position as university president.

Missouri Tigers head football coach Gary Pinkel tweeted his support for his black players over the weekend.  The high number of players who would have sat out the team’s next game against Brigham Young University at Kansas City’s Arrowhead Stadium, would have most likely caused the school to cancel the game, which could have cost the school upwards of $1 million.

Here is where the lines become blurred.

The Missouri Tigers football team takes the field.

The Missouri Tigers football team takes the field.

While there is no doubt the protests brought on by Wolfe’s devil-may-care attitude and lack of action about a series of disturbing incidents is more than warranted, scholarship athletes’ participation in said protests is not.

Scholarship athletes receiving a free education strictly to play major college football is the definition of something being a right and not a privilege.

When there are thousands or perhaps even millions of students who would give anything for an opportunity to attend a school like the University of Missouri, it seems that these players have lost sight of the big picture.

Despite the fact that they are wholly in the right, they are also in the wrong.  When they accepted a scholarship to play football at Missouri, they accepted a free education at a university to play a game.

I see this as taking advantage of the school that offered them a chance to better themselves in the future with a college education strictly because of the athletic skills they have been blessed with.

Do you know why most students wouldn’t be caught dead skipping a class in protest?

Because the majority of students aren’t gifted athletes, and are forced to work, save what little money they can, and in most cases saddle themselves with a crushing student loan debt.

So yes, the players made a stand for the right reasons.  At the same time though, they have an obligation to their university to carry out their end of the bargain.

These players owe to themselves, their teammates, their student peers, and the university to do what they were given a free ride for, and that is this: come gameday, suit up and where the Missouri Tiger uniform with pride.

Now that they’ve got what they wanted, and perhaps deserved, it’s time to go back to work.

Wolfe is out, and hopefully those who have perpetrated these heinous acts will be caught and dealt with accordingly.  Maybe then all will go back to normal on a university campus in a state that has had more than its fair share of racial strife this year.

The bottom line is this: when you are getting a free ride to play football at a university, it’s your job to play football.  As hard as it is to do, you have to block out the distractions.

At the very least, remember how good you have it and think of the other, not so fortunate, and what they would give to be in your place.







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The news site of Trinity Valley Community College.
Racism and responsibility