College Station, TX - This is America: where if you want to Super Size your fries, or have tires bigger than the size of your SUV, or even have more piercings than you do teeth, you may choose to do so. If you want a lazy Saturday, go ahead, crack open a cold one and sit back to enjoy an entire days worth of television. This is the land of the free and free means that we can do whatever we want, right?
Not even close. Freedom isn’t just purchased at a price, but it can be spent at a cost as well. Where Super Sized fries can lead to super sized pants, irrational decisions can lead to large repercussions, even if you’re a collegiate athlete. News broke this week that up to 20 University of Mississippi football players attended an on campus play put on by the university, which ended in national media coverage. The play, “The Laramie Project”, is centered on the 1998 murdering of a gay student at the University of Wyoming.
Even though the play captures the sorrow and pain surrounding the last days of Matthew Shepard, some in the crowd at the Ole Miss campus in Oxford, MS found this amusing. Not only did some find this amusing, but some also felt the need to hurl gay insults and homophobic slurs directed towards the actors in the play.
Now, it has been reported that not all those in the crowd yelling these slurs were football players, but it is known that the majority of the disturbances Tuesday evening came from members of the Rebel football team. But they’re college football players, collegiate players get away with everything right? Not everything.
Sure, recruiting scandals can fly under the radar (unless your OSU), but public homophobic slurs seem pretty difficult to cover up, especially homophobic slurs thrown out at a play concerning a homosexual hate crime ending in murder.
Just because one can run a quick 40-yard dash and can bench press more than the average Joe doesn’t give anyone the right to use his or her First Amendment for hate. All it does is display ignorance and a lack of social of maturity, even if you can display a great deal of athleticism on a football field.
The point is this: no one has the right to do such an act and have no consequences for their actions, no matter what identity is held. If anything, playing for a Division I school means that you are held to a higher standard; therefore you should be held to that same level of consequence.
With that being said, there is absolutely no way that these 20 football players should be able to walk away without facing punishment for their actions. Ole Miss should bring down the hammer upon these players, not just because of their actions, but because their actions represent the student body at the University of Mississippi, and anything less than a lengthy suspension smells of tolerance.