*University of Missouri alum Michael Sam, the most famous thing about Mizzou before this week, has been back at his alma mater working on his graduate degree, and has seen first hand the protests against the school’s passive response to racist incidents on campus.
The last time Columbia, became the center of the sports world it was February 2014, when Sam came out publically as he was preparing for the NFL draft. On Monday, he couldn’t help but notice the similar blanket of media at Mizzou to cover the aftermath of the football team boycott.
So what does he think about it all?
Here’s his interview with the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that ran Nov. 9:
Q: If a player boycott came up during your playing career, would you have gone along with the idea?
A: Someone asked me if we were back in 2013 and the same thing (on campus) was still going on, would you go through with it? If we were undefeated would you (boycott) for something that’s more important? Well, football isn’t everything. I would be there supporting my teammates and agreeing we should do it. Because we are a family. I truly believe that.
We’re not perfect here. We need some changes. I respect Tim (Wolfe) and everything he’s done for me and this university, and it’s unfortunate that he had to leave on these circumstances. But our students had a voice and wanted his removal because he wasn’t doing anything about the problems. He was ignoring it.
Q: Did you visit much with Jonathan Butler and the protestors on campus?
A: I visited today and I saw Butler last Wednesday. There was no one out there. No one out there. I gave him some water. I gave him a hug. He didn’t say much to me. It was his third day (in the hunger strike). In three hours (without food) I get mad so I could see what he was going through. I said to him, ‘I support your cause. I’m with you, brother.’ That was it.
As you can see, it always starts with sports. You can go back to Jackie Robinson, Arthur Ashe. The list goes on and on. If you want something to happen, it always starts with sports. I’ve found that (when athletes get involved) it goes much faster.
Q: You know Gary Pinkel well. How will he rein this team in and get them ready for a game after dealing with all this the last few days?
A: Absolutely. Coach Pinkel supported and stood behind his team. Now it’s time to go to work. They said they wouldn’t do any football activities until (Butler) eats. He wouldn’t eat until President Wolfe resigns. The matter’s over. Now it’s time to go back to work. I believe there’s a team meeting tomorrow before practice. He’ll do his very best to get them ready and focused, and now their focus should be only on BYU so they can win this game to get to a bowl game. It’s on this 2015 senior class. What will their legacy be? Will it be the team that didn’t go to a bowl game or the team that fought hard in its last three games to get to a bowl game?