Kick these kids off the team and take away their scholarships: Facebook and perceptions of athlete activism at the University of Missouri

Evan Frederick – University of Louisville
James Sanderson – Arizona State University
Nicholas Schlereth – University of New Mexico


The purpose of this study was to examine how individuals responded to a 2015 protest by the University of Missouri football players’ in response to racial injustices on campus and the perceptions associated with this activism. Specifically, comments made to posts on the official University of Missouri Athletic Department Facebook page were analyzed through the theoretical lens of framing and critical race theory. Data were analyzed using constant comparative methodology with critical race theory as a guiding framework. Four themes emerged inductively from the data analysis including (a) trivializing racism; (b) encouraging advocacy; (c) systemic critiques; and (d) incompatibility of advocacy. Comments discussed how college athletes were manufacturing racism and that they should not engage in activism due to its incompatibility with sport. While encouragement existed in the data, some went as far as to suggest that these activism efforts warranted the revocation of the athletes’ scholarship. These comments reinforced dominant ideology of Whiteness in sport by suggesting that athletes should be grateful for their opportunity and not question their place within institutional hierarchies and structures.