A bill offered next year by Representative Rick Brattin (R-Harrisonville) would take away the scholarship of any Missouri college athlete who refuses to play for a reason unrelated to health. The measure is in response to the Mizzou football team boycott last month. Representative Rochelle Walton Gray (D-Black Jack) said the proposal is upsetting.

Rep. Rochelle Walton Gray (D-Black Jack)

Rep. Rochelle Walton Gray
(D-Black Jack)

“You hate to say that it’s racially motivated, but it just looks like it is. I took a course on that and when it looks like it on face, sometimes it is. It’s just hard to get past that,” said Walton Gray. “They’re already feeling marginalized and mistreated at that school.”

Protesters, including the Tiger football team, demanded the removal of then-president Tim Wolfe for his handling of racially-charged incidents on campus.

“Had they not done that, no one would listen to them. It took their action as a football team to be heard,” said Walton Gray. “Otherwise no one would be paying attention, meaning the administrators.”

Walton Gray questions what the bill could actually accomplish since MU athletic programs receive no state funds.

“If the bill passes, it probably can be taken to court on its constitutionality,” said Walton Gray.

Representative Brandon Ellington (courtesy; Jon Lorenz, Missouri House Communications)

Representative Brandon Ellington (courtesy; Jon Lorenz, Missouri House Communications)

In a statement, Representative Brandon Ellington (D-Kansas City) also commented about the measure.

“House Bill 1743 seeks to further solidify and legalize institutional racism by targeting black athletes for exercising their constitutional rights to free speech and reducing them to the status of subjugated livestock,” said Ellington.

“The bill’s sponsors, Republicans Rick Brattin and Kurt Bahr, demonstrate a mentality toward racism that unfortunately is shared by too many Missourians,” said Ellington. “It is a mentality under which racism and institutionalized injustice are ignored and black Missourians who shatter that blissful ignorance by forcefully speaking out must be silenced.”

“This legislation is motivated by racism and contemptuous of free speech. It has no place among the laws of a just society,” said Ellington.

Brattin’s bill would also fine a coach for endorsing a strike by players.