When the African-American football players joined the protests against Missouri president Tim Wolfe and said they wouldn’t play until Wolfe was out, their wish was granted in about 24-hours. Jonathan Butler, a graduate student at Missouri and a member of a group of students called #ConcernedStudent1950 (I believe in today’s social media-driven collegiate society the hashtag is required.) had started a hunger strike on November 2nd. Nobody outside of Columbia took notice. When the football team threatened to strike, and team meetings were canceled on Sunday, Wolfe was done.
The university and the social media mafia will celebrate and chalk up the president’s resignation as a victory for race relations. Those are self-absorbed, agenda-driven, myopic projections. I predict the events at Mizzou will be remembered years from now as the events that forever changed college athletics, not race relations.
The threat of players striking brought immediate reaction. Tigers head coach Gary Pinkel tweeted (cause that’s how true sincerity is defined today – by placing a Billboard on social media) that ,The Mizzou Family stands as one.” However, neither Pinkel, or any of the coaches on his staff, or any of the players not of color also struck.
Months of of complaints fell on deaf ears. Hours of a threat by more than 30 football players produced results. Even those supposed “dumb jocks” can recognize the power they posses.
After back-to-back SEC Title game appearances, the Tigers football team is 1-5 in SEC play and 4-5 overall. So how could a team that has lost four straight exert so much pressure? Because if Mizzou didn’t take the field against BYU this Saturday night in Columbia, the university would have owed Brigham Young one-million dollars and refunds to ticket-holders and we’re still dealing with peanuts financially. The real cost comes from the loss of television revenue.
Would a forfeit cost Mizzou their new home in the SEC? Would the cancelation of the game cost the SEC their contract with ESPN? (A contract which, despite its unparalleled success is being panned following the continued blood-letting at ESPN) One meaningless football game and we’re already into the billions of dollars.
Expect college football players to take this new-found power and see how quickly it can provide the financial relief they have craved for decades.