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By Robert A. Vella

When the day-to-day struggles of life become too difficult or too mundane to bear, Americans have always been able to find temporary sanctuary in the illusory world of sport.  There, as spectators, they are captivated by gallant heroes and devious villains engaged in momentous contests of skill and will.  It is an escape from reality, and it feeds our innermost passions.

The Romans, acutely aware of this psychological trait in people, took full advantage of it.  Keep the masses fed and entertained, and they’ll not pay much attention to your corrupt behavior.  Bread and circuses for all…

But, sometimes reality crashes in on these distracting fantasies we call sport;  and, our collective reactions can shake-up the social status quo.  Like being rudely awakened from sleep, we demand to know who disturbed us and why we were disturbed.

Remember the Black Power (i.e. human rights) salute gestured by Tommie Smith and John Carlos at the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City?  Fast-forward to today…

From The Washington PostWhy Missouri football players are going on strike; university president won’t quit:

With the backing of their head coach, football players at Missouri are threatening to stop participating in any football activities until the president of the university system is fired or resigns. In a late afternoon statement, though, the president declined to do so, saying instead that the school would start a systemwide diversity examination.

The players’ action stems from troubling racial incidents on the Columbia, Mo., campus, incidents that Missouri’s Legion of Black Collegians believes were poorly handled by Tim Wolfe. The campus-wide group announced its decision, using the hashtag #ConcernedStudent1950 and a photo of 32 black men on Twitter on Saturday night. Concerned Student 1950, the student activism group leading the protests, is named for the year Missouri first admitted African-American students.

[…]

Racial tensions at the campus have been rising over the last several months. Last month, an excrement-smeared swastika was on a dorm’s new white wall was the catalyst for a hunger strike initiated by Jonathan L. Butler, a 25-year-old graduate student. “I already feel like campus is an unlivable space,” Butler, who is African American, told the Washington Post last month. “So it’s worth sacrificing something of this grave amount, because I’m already not wanted here. I’m already not treated like I’m a human.”

In addition to the swastika incident, Payton Head, the Missouri Students Association president and an African-American, said he was racially abused as he walked on campus. That incident triggered a student protest when Loftin did not address it for a week. Last month, a student yelled the N-word at members of the Legion of Black Collegians in a campus plaza while they were rehearsing for a play.

Today is Sunday, November 8th 2015.  Television screens everywhere across the nation are tuned-in to the exciting National Football League (NFL) games as well as professional basketball and other sporting events.  Are you watching?

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