MISSOURI MACHINATIONS

Mike Moffett

 by Mike Moffett
 Weirs Times Columnist

MISSOURI
MACHINATIONS

NEWS ITEM — University of Missouri president Tim Wolfe recently resigned in the face of growing protests by African-American students, the threat of a walkout by faculty, and a strike by football players who said his administration failed to combat campus racism.

Ousted!

Recently resigned University of Missouri president Tim Wolfe.
Recently resigned University of Missouri president Tim Wolfe.

I was going to write about Tom Brady, but events in the “Show Me State” compelled otherwise.

The first headlines re: Wolfe’s resignation raised questions about what egregious conduct had required him to step down. It turns out that his crime was “inadequate responsiveness” to campus activists on the issue of combatting racism at the University of Missouri in Columbia. And the tipping point came when the African-American gridsters at Mizzou threatened not to play football unless Wolfe quit.

There are fascinating aspects to all this.

Is there rampant racism at Mizzou? I don’t know. No doubt there have been incidents of bad behavior. That’s inevitable at any large university campus. Let light be shined on the whole situation and let the truths emerge. And a measure of skepticism is often appropriate when dealing with emotional campus activists, including those in Columbia.

The football component of the Mizzou equation underscores the power that scholarship athletes can wield when they so-choose. Faculty activists had earlier called for Wolfe’s resignation, to no avail, but when the football Tigers weighed in, Wolfe walked out.

Mizzou Coach Gary Pinkel tweeted his support for his players, but according to USA TODAY that support did not mean he wanted Wolfe to resign.

With Missouri in last place in the Southeastern Conference, Pinkel surely didn’t need the distraction. Time will tell if getting involved in campus politics unites or divides the Tiger gridsters.

But the events in Columbia affirm the potential power that football players can wield, and athletes (and coaches!) around the country certainly took notice.

Last year the football players at Northwestern University sought (unsuccessfully) to unionize, and that may have inspired whoever led the Tiger players to revolt.

The Missouri machinations probably revived wistful memories for grey-haired activists who came of age during the sixties, when student strikes were commonplace. As many of these liberal activists often lamented the extent of university resources invested in a violent male-only sport like football, it’s ironic that a FOOTBALL team achieved the campus activist dream—ousting a university president.

Speaking of the power that football has over presidents, consider that no U.S. President would EVER give a prime time speech or national address if it conflicted with Monday Night Football. Such a President would likely end up like President Wolfe.

Ousted!

CONGRATS TO TIM KNEUER!

Laconia’s Timmy Kneur is a standout runner on the NHTI-Concord Cross Country team. He’s also a serious college student with a 3.76 Grade Point Average, and was honored with Academic All-America honors at the USCAA nationals. He received his award from legendary runner Jim Ryun, whose 3:51.1 time for the mile was a world record for years. An Olympic medalist in 1968, Ryun later ran for congress in Kansas—and won.

Congrats to Tim!

Sports Quiz

What came to be known as the National Basketball Association began play in 1946. What are the only two NBA franchises that survived from 1946 until now? (Answer follows)

Born Today …

That is to say, sports standouts born on Nov. 19 include three-time National League MVP and Brooklyn Dodger catcher Roy Campanella (1921) and one-time America’s Cup Champion and Atlanta Braves owner Ted Turner (1938).

Sportsquote

“A sailing ship is no democracy; you don’t caucus a crew as to where you’ll go anymore than you inquire when they’d like to shorten sail.” – Sterling Hayden (sailor, actor, war hero)

Sportsquiz Answer

The New York Knickerbockers and the Boston Celtics.

Michael Moffett is a Professor of Sports Management for Plymouth State University and for NHTI-Concord. He recently co-authored the critically-acclaimed and award-winning “FAHIM SPEAKS: A Warrior-Actor’s Odyssey from Afghanistan to Hollywood and Back” (with the Marines)—which is available through Amazon.com. His e-mail address is mimoffett@comcast.net.