YardBarker- In direct reaction to the Missouri football team's boycott last month, Missouri state legislators have proposed a bill that would seek to revoke an athlete's scholarship if he or she "calls, incites, supports or participates in any strike or concerted refusal to play a scheduled game."
The bill, proposed by Republican state representatives Rick Brattin and and Kurt Bahr, is being criticized as a tacit attempt to silence the voices of student-athletes in the public forum.
Among those criticizing the bill is New Orleans Saints tight end, and NFLPA executive committee member, Benjamin Watson.
In case I never went on record saying how I felt about the happenings at the University of Missouri, I'll give a little recap. I thought it was a fucking joke. That's not to say there weren't blatant acts of discrimination taking place. I have no doubt that was the case. However, it is to say that a bunch of potentially uninformed students athletes boycotting a football game on behalf of one rich, entitled, serial protester that decided to starve himself isn't the way to go about handling it. I am all for exercising one's right to free speech, but the Missouri football team abused that right, and in doing so, accomplished nothing other than costing one man his job. I haven't heard much about the atmosphere on campus since, but something tells me that terminating a single authority figure for not being proactive enough didn't exactly end racism in the state of Missouri.
With that said, Ben Watson is exactly right. This attempt at legislation, that would all but take away student athlete's first amendment rights, couldn't be more transparent. Politicians can empathize with school officials. Essentially they are one and the same. They are people of power, heavily affiliated with the state, that generally don't have their job security compromised all that often. That's why they apparently feel so threatened by this one case in which they did. In many ways, this proposed bill is just as stupid and shortsighted as Donald Trump saying we should build a wall to keep refugees out. It's not that simple. Not all immigrants are terrorists. Not all protests are ill-advised. Student athlete's are already bringing in million upon millions of dollars not only into the school, but into the state. Considering all they are granted in return is an education and free speech, it's safe to say they are already severely under compensated in regards to what they provide. So thinking that the quick fix is to give them less rights is damn near comedic. I thought the entire premise of higher learning was developing adolescents into free thinking adults, not turning them into indifferent zombies. I wasn't aware that the only way to maintain the delicate dichotomy on campus was to censor beliefs, instead of giving them a productive climate to flourish.
These politicians are treating this like it is some sort of power struggle between student athletes and the people that profit off of them. They are only exacerbating the problem that the Missouri football team unceremoniously shed light on. Universities are supposed to be self sustaining communities. It's not supposed to be a tug of war between students and faculty. It's supposed to a healthy back and forth that creates an environment that is conducive to learning. You don't put a stop to racism by simply strong-arming a University President out of his job, just as you don't silence the concerns of the student body by turning a college campus into a fascist police state. This isn't one of those situations where the solution is as easy as fighting fire with fire, because if the two sides are fighting at all, then simply put, everybody is losing.