The Mizzou controversy is fascinating precisely because so much hoaxing is going on with both sides. Sure, the entire controversy is almost certainly contrived: there is no evidence of the swastika, the KKK or the supposed racial slurs. But, on the other hand, there is also no evidence that the slurs being laid on the student activists are entirely fair. They are being called infantilized, irresponsible, unable to be self-reliant, etc.
I can't help but think the people attacking the students are frightened of them for entirely different reasons than the ones they voice. After all, student protests like this have become quite common in the last few years. What makes this one such a sharp stick in everyone's eye?
In a word?
These student activists made one, simply BRILLIANT, move. They not only got the Mizzou football players on their side, they got the Mizzou football coaches on their side. With that one act, they won their fight, game, set, match (to mix sporting metaphors).
It is, as always, all about the money. As I've pointed out previously, everyone who attends a university is an adult who is taking on a lifetime risk of debtor's prison imposed by the government. All student loans must go through the government, no student loan can ever be discharged except through payment. Even bankruptcy Chapter 11 proceedings won't make them go away. So, students have a certain financial interest in getting the product they want.
And, in order to force the university's hand, Mizzou student activists hit them right in the gonads. They took out the Mizzou football program. To give you a feel for the size of the college football market, ESPN alone will pay $7.3 BILLION (that's "billion" with a "b") for rights to transmit seven college football games a year for the next 12 years. Sports programs, especially football programs, bring enormous revenue to their college campuses, in no small part because the players don't get a dime.
Universities are the pimps, college athletes are the ... talent. Once the protesters threatened the cash drawer, the chancellor and president had to resign. They couldn't very well sit down with the coaches and players to negotiate a response. That would make clear how much was at stake. Indeed, if players and coaches decided to organize across the system, it would threaten the entire college football system.
They couldn't fire the coaches - that destroys Mizzou's income. They couldn't get rid of the players. That would focus attention on the power of the sports team, and the coaches would just bring new players into line with their viewpoint. The only way out was the door, and they both headed for it.
What fascinates me most is that no one on either side is talking about the importance of having snagged the football team to support the movement. It is as if both sides are attempting to pretend the ball is somewhere other than it is, hoping the Mizzou football team's political fumblerooski is not recognized for the winning play that it actually is.
As I've said before, I am not at all a fan of what the students are advocating. It violates what a college is supposed to be about. But colleges haven't been living their mandates for a long, long time. In that sense, the students are simply making explicit the stupidity that has been implicit at most colleges for many decades. The honesty is, at least, refreshing.
No, I don't endorse their goals. What I do applaud is their brilliant political pressuring efforts. It was a tour de force that few adults have managed to emulate.
College students, take note: as long as you can get the football sub-system at your university on your side, you can force the administration to jump through any hoop you care to name. And you strike fear into the heart of football fans everywhere. They may call you every name in the book, but you will most definitely get what you want in the end. It's either that, or they never watch another college football game as long as they live.
Isn't that an interesting dichotomy?