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The Lookout | April 13, 2021

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Mizzou proves college football has the power to invoke change

RichColumnHeadCOLORLet’s get one thing straight before I begin, this column is in no way meant to discount the effort and the solidarity shown by students at the University of Missouri over the continued racial issues on their campus. I am merely giving a sports angle that some may or may not agree with.

The state of Missouri is experiencing one of the worst race conflicts in this country’s history, and the school’s football team proved how powerful sports can be in making a change, both symbolically and economically.

As some or many of you readers may know, the football team joined together with the student body and refused to participate in team activities until President Timothy Wolfe resigned over alleged failure to act over racial confrontations.

When a team that plays in the SEC refuses to play, as sad as this is in American society, people will take notice. College football talks. It’s plain and simple.

In 2014, Mizzou earned $17,554,536 in ticket sales, $4,456,704 in broadcast revenue and $14,185,334 from distribution by the NCAA and SEC. That is a total of $36,196,574 in revenue just from football.

This admirable stand by the football team stood as not only a demand for action in the pursuit of equality, but as a threat to the ever almighty American dollar.

As a hypothetical, if this had spilled into the basketball season, there would be a danger of losing millions upon millions in ticket sales, merchandise, the possibility major network broadcast cancellations and NCAA sanctions.

Maybe it is a bit extreme to think that the NCAA would step in, granted its past of complete buffoonery with disciplinary decisions of varying magnitudes.

I cannot begin to know how it feels to have a slur hurled at me, mocking my race, or to be treated with injustice by a system that claims to be fair and impartial. I would never dare try to compare any hardships in my life to what it feels like.

But what I can say is congratulations to the students and student-athletes in their steadfast pursuit to equality. It is a true shame that it has to come to this for people to realize that everybody has a voice and will demand to be heard.

As Nelson Mandela famously said, “Sports can create hope where there was once despair. It is more powerful than governments in breaking down racial barriers. It laughs in the face of all types of discrimination.”

Now I am interpreting it in a different context of course, but in the end it is the truth.

Racism may never be eradicated from our world, as horrible to think about as that is. But these student-athletes at the University of Missouri have proven that sports can change lives.