OSU’s F. King Alexander and UO’s Schill hope football will boost your morale

From their joint Oregonian op-ed, here:

“… We hope our decision to resume athletic competition will boost morale for all students, faculty and staff at our universities and among Oregonians and alumni and fans beyond our state. During this incredibly challenging period, we want our fans and supporters to have a few hours on Saturdays when perhaps they can forget about COVID-19, wildfires and other challenges and root for their favorite teams.

The Pac-12 decision to resume football, basketball and winter sports is a small step toward restoring some order among the chaos. Regardless of whether you’re a Duck or a Beaver, it will provide hope, a respite and something to cheer for.”

Of course it’s part of their job to write crap like this, and our trustees pay them a lot of money to hire the PR flacks who do it for them.

In related commentary about the morale effects of big-time college sports, the gung-ho Ohio State Ed School prof who co-authored this pro football op-ed for InsideHigherEd last week, and who was even more over the top than King and Schill, has now written a complete and utter retraction:

From the original op-ed, Why America Needs College Football

“Although many people have been outspoken about the financial and health ramifications of allowing — or requiring — players to gear up, few, if any, have addressed the essential role that college football may play toward healing a democracy made more fragile by disease, racial unrest and a contested presidential election cycle.

Essentializing college football might help get us through these uncharacteristically difficult times of great isolation, division and uncertainty. Indeed, college football holds a special bipartisan place in the American heart.

At a time when colleges and universities have been placed under extreme scrutiny, many people are questioning the very value and purpose of higher education. College football reminds many Americans of the community values that underscore higher education and by extension America itself.”

I’m pretty sure he got that last line from the courtroom scene in Animal House. But regardless he’s now woke, and yesterday InsideHigherEd posted his retraction:

Why America Needs College Football — Part 2:

Matthew J. Mayhew September 29, 2020

It doesn’t. I was wrong. And even worse, I was uninformed, ignorant and harm inducing.

I recently led a piece in Inside Higher Ed titled “Why America Needs College Football.” I am sorry for the hurt, sadness, frustration, fatigue, exhaustion and pain this article has caused anyone, but specifically Black students in the higher education community and beyond.

I am struggling to find the words to communicate the deep ache for the damage I have done. I don’t want to write anything that further deepens the pain experienced by my ignorance related to Black male athletes and the Black community at any time, but especially in light of the national racial unrest. I also don’t want to write anything that suggests that antiracist learning is quick or easy. This is the beginning of a very long process, one that started with learning about the empirical work related to Black college football athletes.

Rather than make excuses, I should talk about which facets of the article that I have recently learned are harmful — through my students, wider social media community and distinguished academics like Donna FordJoy Gaston Gayles and Gilman Whiting.

I learned that I could have titled the piece “Why America Needs Black Athletes.” I learned that Black men putting their bodies on the line for my enjoyment is inspired and maintained by my uninformed and disconnected whiteness and, as written in my previous article, positions student athletes as white property. I have learned that I placed the onus of responsibility for democratic healing on Black communities whose very lives are in danger every single day and that this notion of “democratic healing” is especially problematic since the Black community can’t benefit from ideals they can’t access. I have learned that words like “distraction” and “cheer” erase the present painful moments within the nation and especially the Black community.

Upon such beginnings of reflection, I have also learned that my love for Black athletes on the field doesn’t translate into love within the larger community — that I have been dismissive of Black lives in moments not athletically celebrated.  … “

FWIW, Robby Soave, writing in Reason (a libertarian magazine on “free minds and free markets” which not all my readers may check regularly) wonders if this apology is entirely voluntary, or perhaps is tongue in cheek. Personally I believe in the power of redemption, and I hope Alexander and Schill find it someday too.


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7 Responses to OSU’s F. King Alexander and UO’s Schill hope football will boost your morale

  1. charlie says:

    It’s way past time for this to be said. P5 unis have become circuses, and guys like Alexander and Schill are boss clowns, throwing pies in the faces of anyone stupid enough to be in the audience. At a time of accelerating economic distress, when hundreds of thousands of Oregonians are living indoors only because the Feds mandate they do, we get these two, and other academic flacks, yapping about the role football plays in maintaining some democratic delusion. Just an attempt to keep the truth from becoming evident, they have no solutions for the impending collapse…

  2. Fishwrapper says:

    But football is the front porch of the university – don’t you know that? No one will be interested in a school focused on non-gridiron nonsense.

  3. Anas clypeata says:

    Hey Duck and Beaver fans! It’s time to get together with a big group of people from outside your immediate family, gather yourselves in front of a giant television in a poorly ventilated room, and talk loudly and yell for a few hours! What could possibly go wrong?

  4. XDH says:

    How about this blog finally promoting something truly important and impactful to the UO community: the sad struggles of one of our junior biology colleagues with terminal lymphoma: https://twitter.com/McKnightLab_UO

    Give if you can: https://www.gofundme.com/f/helping-laura-and-katherine-get-through-my-death?utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=m_pd+share-sheet