In Missouri, a local Republican is pitching a law that would strip athletes of their scholarships if they participate in protests. The legislation is a response to the University of Missouri football team refusing to play during recent student civil disobedience at their Columbia campus, and a very bad response at that.
Proposed in the Missouri State House last week, according to the Associated Press, Republican state representative Rick Brattin’s bill would apply to any athlete who “calls, incites, supports or participates in any strike.” In addition, schools would be forced to fine any coaching staff found to be encouraging or enabling student protests.
This November, many football players joined their classmates in protesting their university’s president Tim Wolfe and his slow, often bungled response to racial discrimination at their school. A student group called the Concerned 1950 had been protesting institutional racism on campus for weeks; a graduate student named Jonathan Butler went on a seven-day hunger strike. Response was uneven: someone made violent threats against Mizzou’s black students on the college social media platform Yik Yak and professors told their classes to come in anyway.
It wasn’t until the athletes threatened to sit out a game that the administration really began to move. Wolfe, forced into his decision, stepped down. Now, Rep. Brattin is trying to rein in the athletes’ power.
At press time, neither Brattin nor University of Missouri Department of Athletics spokesman Ryan Bradley had responded to requests for clarity on the matter. However Rep. Kurt Bahr, a co-sponsor of the bill, told press that their goal is to “show that some state lawmakers don’t approve of how University of Missouri administrators handled student unrest” and “foster discussion between the Legislature and university leadership.”
Essentially, Brattin, Bahr and their crew want to deny Missouri athletes their right to freedom of assembly because...sports.
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