© 2024 WOSU Public Media
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
WOSP-FM 91.5 Portsmouth is off the air. In the meantime listen online or with the WOSU mobile app.

Commentary: Mizzou Football And The Power Of The Players

Members of the University of Missouri Tigers football team return to practice Nov. 10 at Memorial Stadium in Columbia, Mo.
Michael B. Thomas
/
Getty Images
Members of the University of Missouri Tigers football team return to practice Nov. 10 at Memorial Stadium in Columbia, Mo.

It's accepted that the president of the University of Missouri stepped down in a racial dispute only when the football team threatened not to play a game. The players showed us again — surprise, surprise — how powerful is football, and let's throw in basketball, too, throughout our bastions of higher education.

It would have cost old Mizzou a million-dollar penalty had it forfeited. It would have cost the players next to nothing, because the NCAA rules they must be amateurs and risk serious injury for the love of the game. Ironically, for once, having nothing to gain actually strengthened the players' hand.

The particular racially insensitive issues at Missouri and those that've produced protests at other colleges have nothing to do with sport, but, on the other hand, it's worth noting well over half of the football players who bring in the big money in the big-time conferences are African-American. The percentage of minority basketball players is even higher.

Click the audio for Frank Deford's full commentary on this issue.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Frank Deford died on Sunday, May 28, at his home in Florida. Remembrances of Frank's life and work can be found inAll Things Considered, Morning Edition,and on NPR.org.