The 5-7 Mizzou Tigers — 1-7 in conference play, and clocking in at #6 in the SEC East — weren’t the SEC’s most worthless football team in the 2015 season. That honor went to South Carolina (3-9 overall, and dead last in the East Division).
So why are Tigers players slated to receive an ESPY at the ESPN awards ceremony this year?
Aw, you know why. Because members of the team boycotted practice and refused to play in the final games of the 2015 season, as a show of solidarity with a highly organized racial protest movement. (See here as well.)
Alert readers will remember that hunger-striker Jonathan Butler, a graduate student at Mizzou who was protesting a laundry-list of -isms, turned out, as such protesters do, to be the son of a wealthy executive. Much of the dossier compiled against the university by “protesters,” meanwhile, turned out to be trumped-up nonsense.
A great time was assuredly had by all. The most significant outcome so far, noted by Howard Portnoy in January, has been a dramatic drop in applications for enrollment at Missouri. Indeed, applications from black students dropped the most — by 19% between the 2015 and 2016 academic years. It seems not all black students are enthusiastic about walking into a political buzzsaw, and perhaps being expected to concentrate on protest activities rather than on pursuing studies and getting degrees.
But ESPN is going to redeem the whole sordid mess for posterity, by conferring the Stuart Scott ENSPIRE Award on the football team’s protesting players. Campus Reform notes the following:
One player told ESPN at the time [of the boycott] that several players and coaches were “pissed,” and that the protest would not have happened if the team was 9-0.
ESPN’s other interesting choices recently have included giving Caitlyn Jenner (nee Bruce Jenner) the 2015 Arthur Ashe Award for Courage.
The first Stuart Scott ENSPIRE Award was made last year, after popular broadcaster Scott died of a rare appendiceal cancer in January 2015, at the far too young age of 49. The Stuart Scott Award is part of the ESPN group of Sports Humanitarian of the Year Awards, and in 2015 went to the You Can Play Project, “an advocacy organization that combats homophobia in sports.”