Day 6

Missouri protests: how much power do college athletes really have?

Missouri's football team is being celebrated for harnessing their power as athletes, and taking a stand against racism on campus. After they refused to play, their university president stepped down in 36 hours. University of Michigan historian Matthew Countryman says that narrative doesn't tell the whole story.
Missouri running back Russell Hansbrough, left, dives into the end zone on Nov. 5, 2015. Missouri football players announced on Nov. 7, 2015 that they would not participate in team activities until the university president, Tim Wolfe, was removed from office. (The Associated Press)

The University of Missouri is in turmoil and on high alert. Police have arrested at least two people for allegedly making threats to black students at the school, while university officials continue to reassure students that security is their top priority.

The university's president, Tim Wolfestepped down on Nov. 9 as a result of controversy over his handling of racial tension on campus. Hours later, the university's chancellor also stepped down.

The school's football team has received much of the credit for Wolfe's resignation. His decision to step down came just a day and a half after the Missouri Tigers football team tweeted that they would boycott their next game and all team activities until he was gone. The team is being celebrated for harnessing their collective power as athletes to take a stand against racism on campus.

But Matthew Countryman says that narrative doesn't tell the whole story. Matthew is a historian at the University of Michigan who studies African American social movements. He tells Brent why we shouldn't overstate just how much power these young college athletes actually have.

Also, check out Brent's interview below with civil rights historian and outspoken NCAA critic Taylor Branch who argued that the college system exploits players.