OPINION: Missouri football players take a stand

India Kirssin | Staff Writer


It turns out students can make a difference.

In November, 31 African-American University of Missouri football players, backed by head coach Gary Pinkel, announced they would not be participating in football activities until University President Timothy M. Wolfe resigned.

Mizzou students and faculty had already been protesting for weeks, calling for Wolfe to resign after his slow responses to racial incidents on campus.

Incidents include racial slurs and threats posted on social media. Wolfe also came under fire for his definition of systematic oppression, which implied that oppression is a state of mind rather than a reality.

The addition of the football players to the protests put pressure on the university to do something about Wolfe. Without those players, Missouri would have to cancel its upcoming football game against Brigham Young University and pay a $1 million fine to cover the game.

A few days later Wolfe “resigned”.

The students, faculty and athletes had successfully come together to make a difference and I applaud them for having the courage to stand up for the injustices they saw.

There are many reasons the protests worked, the biggest being the football team’s involvement. This drew national attention to the race issues and to the importance of student-athletes getting involved. At many schools athletes are looked at, and treated, differently than other students. But by joining the protests, Missouri players “bridged the gap” between students and athletes.

Whether Wolfe was the problem, or the scapegoat, I don’t know. And I’m not sure if making him resign will solve any of the racial issues Mizzou faces. But hopefully the example set by the Missouri football program will show other athletes across the country that they can make a difference.