TOUCHDOWN, MISSOURI!

1. It’s Tuesday, November 10, 2015

2. It sometimes seems as though Missouri aspires to surpass Texas in the dopey department.

There was Ferguson, of course, an incident waiting to happen. A place where African-Americans were systematically put at financial and penal risk by stupid ticket-writing incentives for police. The death of Michael Brown seems almost preordained in that kind of atmosphere.

It’s the home state of Todd Akin, the Republican who believes women’s bodies shut down to prevent pregnancy after a “legitimate rape.” It cost him a Senate seat, but only barely.

And then there was the situation at the state’s largest educational institution, the University of Missouri. Incidents of racial taunts and slurs, of anti-Semitism, of callous administrative disregard for students went unaddressed for months.

What unites states such as Missouri is sports. Especially football. The whole state roots for the Tigers against their foes in the Southeastern Conference, one of the two biggest collegiate sports leagues in the nation.

Thus the stance of the football team to say enough is enough is heroic. But it’s easily understood and definitely requires a modicum of courage. The athletes recognized that, away from the football field, there are those who would just as soon label them as losers and treat them with the same disrespect.

So they took a stance. And the president who ignored these problems is out the door.

A lot of folks, including the respected Times columnist Joe Nocera, say this could be a sign that college athletes are ready to correct some of the ways they are exploited by the system. I don’t know that that’s true – I’m sure a lot of these athletes love their special status at their schools and in their states, and would do nothing to jeopardize it.

What the Missouri football players should be a lesson to the rest of us. We have clout, too. Where we spend our money. What we do with our time. Who we cheer and who we jeer. If we’re willing to stand firm, we can affect change.

There’s an epidemic of stupid in our land. The Missouri football team took a goal-line stand against it, and held.

3. On that note, I wasn’t planning to go to Starbucks today. I have a class to teach at William Paterson University in New Jersey, and I’m preparing for that now. (It’s about writing opinion pieces!)

But because Donny Trump, the disgrace to humanity, is backing the moronic boycott of Starbucks for taking designs off its holiday season cups, I am determined to buy something there.

It’s my stand against stupid, and I get an Oprah Chai in the process.

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