Commentary: Mizzou’s potential boycott is a fascinating study

We start by bringing attention to the ongoing situation with the Missouri football team.

A group of players has threatened to boycott all football activities until their school president, Tim Wolfe, resigns. It comes in the wake of racially charged incidents at the school, and their contention that Wolfe has failed to respond appropriately to student concerns. For now, Wolfe has no plans on stepping down.

Today, Missouri’s football coach and former Huskies assistant coach Gary Pinkel tweeted this powerful message: “The Mizzou Family stands as one. We are united. We are behind our players.” It’s accompanied by a photo of all the coaches and players standing together, with their arms locked in unity. In fact, state lawmakers have now gotten involved, with the chairman of the Missouri House of higher education committee calling for Wolfe’s resignation too.

Safe to say - this could get really ugly. If Mizzou forfeits their game against BYU next week, they’re contractually obligated to pay $1 million to BYU.

But we also have a situation where the head coach of a football team is asserting his influence in direct opposition to a university president.

Let me be clear: I applaud the student athletes for standing up for the cause - most of all, due to the fact that they’re protesting in a completely peaceful manner. There’s no violence – simply a unified voice of solidarity. And they’re also challenging the university’s authority to a game of “Who blinks first?” They’re technically risking their scholarships by refusing to play, but realize message it would send to other student athletes – and potential student athletes – if the school took those scholarships away.

Whatever your stance on this matter, it deserves attention. Because it’s not only the most spotlighted example of the escalation of racial tensions on campuses nationwide – but the way this situation ultimately plays out has consequences across the entire landscape of the NCAA.

In many schools across the country, football is king. Football coaches often yield as much - if not more - influence than the school president. Pinkel is the latest example.

But it’s also intriguing to watch a team band together, standing up as one to try to affect change at the top of the university’s food chain – and threatening to deprive the school of millions that the players aren’t getting paid themselves.

And whatever happens – the football players at Missouri ARE getting one heck of an education: An education into school politics that they’ll remember for the rest of their lives.