Missouri’s Gary Pinkel takes bold stand with striking players

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In an ideal world we would all use college football and other sports as a way to escape the harsh reality and political landscape of hot button issues we continue to sort through on a regular basis. We know, of course, that simply cannot happen and sports will always meet real life issues at an intersection in one way or another. This is the case at the University of Missouri, where it has been reported black college football players on Missouri’s team will no longer be participating in any football-related activities until university president Tim Wolfe resigns or is removed from his seat. If you were curious how Mizzou head coach Gary Pinkel has felt about this, then wonder no more. He supports the voice of his players, and has united the entire team in delivering the message.

Missouri Governor Jay Nixon issued a released statement Sunday afternoon as well.

“Racism and intolerance have no place at the University of Missouri or anywhere in our state,” Governor Nixon said. “Our colleges and universities must be havens of trust and understanding. These concerns must be addressed to ensure the University of Missouri is a place where all students can pursue their dreams in an environment of respect, tolerance and inclusion.”

Missouri is scheduled to play BYU this week in Kansas City’s Arrowhead Stadium. As of now, there is no indication that game will be canceled, forfeited or rescheduled, but the pressure is on at Missouri for something to happen if that game is to remain in place. There is precedent for college football players to unite on a political or racial issue that could have an impact on a game, but it has been decades since we have seen something like this at this level.

Missouri is 4-5 this season, two wins shy of bowl eligibility. The loss of one game on the schedule with three to play carries some significant ramifications for bowl prospects, and the revenue that comes with it. Missouri players are putting more important social issues in front of football and revenue, and Pinkel is showing strong character in joining them in that protest.