A month after Missouri football players discovered and utilized their own agency, the state’s legislature is attempting to strip them of it.
The Missouri House of Representatives will review a bill that would revoke the scholarship of anyone who refused to play for any reason other than health. The bill was filed by Republican representative Rick Brattin, clearly in response to the Missouri football team’s November boycott that helped cause the resignation of president Tim Wolfe.
MO state legislature, keeping it classy pic.twitter.com/ATUPLkjUJp
— Sam Cohen (@cohenss) December 14, 2015
In case you needed any more reason to believe many Americans view college athletes as soulless pawns placed on Earth to crash into each other for public enjoyment, this would seem to confirm it. The message with this bill is clear: Hey dumb football players, shut up and play football.
It’s this line of logic that allows “The college game is more pure if they don’t get paid” to be a principled argument against increased compensation for athletes, as if their well-being is secondary to some beer-bellied dude’s Saturday ritual. And it’s this line of logic that ensures dozens of “stick to sports” tweets any time an athlete takes a stand on anything.
Then there are the obvious racial implications, the enduring desire to mute black Americans, lest they say something that might disrupt the white-washed status quo.
The situation in Missouri showed how much power college football players have and the ways they can wield that power to force change. Naturally this revelation was scary for legislators who suddenly realized that 20-year black kids had more leverage in their own state than they did.
This bill — which has an effective start date of August 28, 2016 — is a long way from becoming law, but if it does reach that point, it will be a clear indication that white America wants its black athletes to keep quiet and play.
After all, who knows who the Missouri football team will come for next. Maybe it will be Rick Brattin.