Racism, Resistance & Black Athletes
In the wake of a rising number of racist incidents at the University of Missouri, nicknamed Mizzou, black athletes threatened to boycott football games. Wow. Did that get people’s attention. So much of the economy of state universities is tied to football, the multibillion-dollar TV contracts, the multimillion-dollar coaching salaries, and the small fortunes that pour into small towns on game day don’t happen without a group of young men willing to take the field. The emergence of the Black Lives Matter movement threatens the lucrative operation of this machinery. The Southeastern Conference, where Mizzou plays, field teams that, in the words of sociologist Harry Edwards, ‘look like Ghana on the field and Sweden in the stands.’ Athletes have tremendous influence on and off campus. Speaking out and acting collectively, they can bring the powerful to their knees.
Dave Zirin is the award-winning sports editor of The Nation magazine. He is the author of many books including A People’s History of Sports in the United States and The Kaepernick Effect: Taking a Knee, Changing the World. He also hosts The Edge of Sports podcast.