Mizzou Power Play Raises Stakes

The biggest collegiate sports story has taken place this week - off the playing field. Never has it been more evident that some college sports, especially football, yield too much power. A show of unity and strength from Mizzou's football players essentially forced Gary Pinkel, the $4 million-per-year head coach and most influential man on campus, to back their boycott, which ended when the MU system President and the Columbia campus Chancellor each resigned two days later. Two days!

The money generated by college sports has long given power to coaches, school administrators, chancellors and presidents, and in particular television network executives. There is no doubt that they have mismanaged their power and influence at times - often placing money over the well being of student athletes. But the events at Mizzou these last few days are clear proof that with the right cause, motivation, and unity, the real power rests with the athletes.  The purpose of this column is not to address racism on college campuses or modern America. Nor is it to argue that the President and Chancellor are culpable or not for the incidents at MU. Those are discussions for platforms outside LetsGoDU.

The intent of this column is to warn of the absolute power of college football - either at the hands of administrators or students. Power, if not wielded judiciously, can lead to a loss of due process, thoughtful discussion, and resolution of thorny issues. Ironically, the very same administrators who benefited from the growth of Mizzou football essentially lost power once this movement picked up steam. With a 1 million dollar game guarantee and a game scheduled less than a week away, the gun was held to the head of the administration. The athletes became judge and jury and the President and Chancellor were left with no option but to resign. No hearings, no mediation, no meetings to try to resolve differences and work towards an amicable resolution.

True, only football and basketball in the five Power Conferences hold the power to drive such a rapid, chaotic change. DU is a much smaller fish and, frankly, a much tighter University that will likely never see something like this happen on campus.

While the intent of the boycott was clearly noble, does this precedent mean there will be more boycotts in the future? Will future causes be less noble? Those with power use it and there is a new broker in the college Power Five sports - the athletes. Will they be able to topple coaches, AD's, and administrators? With million dollar game guarantees, huge broadcast rights fees, university image and merchandising revenue, never has there been a stronger shift in the balance of power in college sports - to the athletes. Let's hope that this new found power is wielded judiciously and in a rightious manner. Because, be the power with the administrators and coaches or with the athletes, as John Emerich Edward Dalberg Acton stated, "absolute power corrupts absolutely".

The huge money and visibility generated by college sports, unfortunately, has long made this
day inevitable.

Read more here: http://www.kansascity.com/sports/spt-columns-blogs/sam-mellinger/article43894332.html#storylink=cpy


Puck Swami said...

Sports has always included politics and money, going back to the ancient Greeks, when athletes were awarded large monetary prizes by city-states, and the early Olympics could create truces between warring city-states.

It's little different today. College sports has become multi-million dollar entertainment at the high end, and DU, while not a football or hoops power, still spends north of $25 million a year on D-I sports.

Every athletic director in the country had a wake-up call this week.

dggoddard said...

This is what happens when you don't "pay" the players. There's not much you can hold over their heads if they decide to boycott a game, the a bowl game or a season.

Now if Missouri had called the players' bluff and fielded a team of 45 "frat boys" rather than lose the $1 million cancellation penalty for not playing the game, it would have been interesting.