18 PHI KAPPA PHI FORUM
A component of the sports industrial complex is the
separation of athlete from campus and wider society; big-time
collegiate athletes are set apart and earn special treatment.
Mizzou is no exception. The athletic world is largely across the
street, at a complex just for athletes with a dining hall, training
equipment and fields, lockers, parking, doctors, trainers,
coaches, and administrators. Activism is not new, and Black
athletes have brought it back in vogue.
This is not simply for self-aggrandizement; the broad media
coverage of police brutality against Black males and other
incidents setting the #BlackLivesMatter movement aflame
disrupted the athletic identity that usually insulates elite Black
male athletes and limits their connection with other Black people.
They are different from the rest of us and, yet, still the same.
Here’s an example of what I mean.
It was a Monday in fall of 2012, my very first semester
here at Mizzou. I was teaching Introduction to Black Studies
and we were entering the final stretch of the semester. The
group project was all that was left — a campus study on
aspects of Black student life. One component of the study was
observation. I asked the class about their progress and grew
concerned they weren’t getting out and doing the necessary
fieldwork. I decided on the fly that we’d get out of the
classroom, observe some students, and discuss what we’d seen.
There were moans and groans, but I walked out and told them
to meet me at the Memorial Student Union. I got there and
found a seat.
The Union’s main floor has a large atrium with two- and
four-seat tables, loveseats, and couches. There’s a Starbucks
and a to-go eatery. I watched the class enter and try to find
seats; it was about three-quarters full. Some of the students,
reluctant to take observations, walked around in groups of
three or four until they found seats. For 15 minutes, I watched
the students blending in to varying degrees, some sitting in
silence while others spoke with each other and non-classmates.
Then, I got up, moved towards an exit and signaled with a
THE FIRE THIS TIME:
A CONTEXT FOR UNDERSTANDING THE BLACK
MALE ATHLETE PROTESTS AT MISSOURI
SCOT T BROOKS
On Nov. 9, the University of Missouri’s system president resigned and the Columbia
campus chancellor was demoted after a number of the school’s Black football players
joined #ConcernedStudent1950’s protest and refused to play. This should not
come as a surprise considering today’s sports industrial complex and Black athlete
activism. The Black players who decided to protest were joining a movement on
campus and in wider society that they not only could understand, but felt.