“I Was Uninformed, Ignorant And Harm Inducing”: Ohio State Professor Issues Profuse Apology For Saying The Nation Could Benefit From A College Football Season

Ohio State University Higher Education and Student Affairs Professor Matthew Mayhew has issued an abject apology after penning a column entitledWhy America Needs College Football.”  Mayhew argued that the return of college football could get the country through “uncharacteristically difficult times of great isolation, division and uncertainty.” That did not sit well with some at the university and Mayhew published Why America Needs College Football – Part 2 to seek forgiveness for the harm that he caused. The column and its confessional follow-up are unnerving for many in academia in the current debate over free speech on campuses. It is entirely appropriate and commendable for an academic to reconsider his views and retract any statements which he now considers racist or insensitive. However, the retraction of such views as inherently harmful raises questions about the range of acceptable speech today. There are clearly good-faith reasons to favor the return of college football as well as good-faith reasons to oppose it. The question is whether expressing the former is now unacceptable at universities for a professor or student. Despite being a sports fan, I am uneasy about the return of college football during the pandemic. I welcomed the publication of the first column as the start of a possible (and needed) debate on the question and the underlying economic, social, racial and academic issues.

In the original column, Mayhew and graduate Musbah Shaheed wrote:

This election season has demonstrated how stifled, polarized and dangerous our political differences have become, and college football can remind us of respect — even in the wake of deep disagreement. We can root for different teams, scream at the players, argue with the refs and question the coaches, but win or lose, at the end of the day, we leave the stadium, watch party or tailgate with a sense of respect for the game and the athletes that train so hard, leaving it all out on the field every time. Indeed, if a player is injured, the entire stadium usually applauds, not just fans from one team.

Many have found the return of football and baseball to be a huge emotional boast during this long isolation. However, the column apparently led to the backlash and Mayhew’s apology that “I was wrong. And even worse, I was uninformed, ignorant and harm inducing.”

I am struggling to find the words to communicate the deep ache for the damage I have done. I don’t want to write anything that further deepens the pain experienced by my ignorance related to Black male athletes and the Black community at any time, but especially in light of the national racial unrest. I also don’t want to write anything that suggests that antiracist learning is quick or easy. This is the beginning of a very long process, one that started with learning about the empirical work related to Black college football athletes.

Mayhew then thanks academics Donna FordJoy Gaston Gayles, and Gilman Whiting, for “their willingness” to work with him on these issues and his education.

There are very compelling arguments against resuming college football during the pandemic. This includes the concern that the college environment lends itself to more risky or less compliant conduct. Indeed, Mayhew and Shaheed stressed that they was only supporting the return to the season if it was done safely:

To be clear, we are not suggesting that athletes put their lives or their health at risk for the sake of entertainment: players, coaches and fans should strictly adhere to safety guidelines. And to be clear, we frankly hated writing this piece. As higher education experts, we routinely scrutinize and criticize colleges and universities for placing too much emphasis on athletics, and it pains us to admit that college football may play a starring role in the political theater of American life.

As an academic, I am concerned with the inherent conflict in schools barring group meetings and events while permitting football games and practices. I am also concerned over whether these students will feel pressure to participate or lose their scholarships or benefits if they do not. There are also compelling arguments that the risks can be addressed as Major League Baseball and the National Football League have done. We have seen the successful use of precautions at the National Basketball Association which are being cited as a model for such events. However, academics should be free to write on both sides. A professor could view the football season as something with great value for society during this period and also something that can be done safely. That view should not be “harm inducing,” even if others disagree.

From a free speech perspective, the characterization of such a column as harmful is concerning. Notably, the second column was authored only by Mayhew, leaving student Musbah Shaheed in a difficult, if not precarious, position of not retracting a column that Mayhew now says was harmful. As someone who may want to go into teaching, there is obviously a concern that this could be used against him in seeking positions given the position of his co-author. Mayhew mentions Shaheed but he is fairly ambiguous on what specifically in his original column was racist. What he is clear about is that arguing for the resumption of the season was offensive and hurtful and should never have been written:

“To all communities of color and especially the Black community, I am sorry for causing pain by ignoring yours. I really hate the idea of hurting anyone. I hate that I have done this: if I had not ignored the pain of so many, this article would have never been written.”

Mayhew notes that the harm includes “that my students have to carry my ignorant racist energy with them at all times.” Mayhew treats the entire column as harmful not any particular line or statement that should have been changed. Yet, isn’t it possible to favor the resumption of college football and not be racist or harmful to people of color? Indeed, many athletes and commentators of all races have supported the move.

Many colleges and universities have curtailed free speech or barred controversial speakers by claiming that opposing views are harm inducing for some students or faculty. Public confessions of racism has become common around the country. The greater harm is the chilling effect on speech and the rising intolerance for opposing views.

92 thoughts on ““I Was Uninformed, Ignorant And Harm Inducing”: Ohio State Professor Issues Profuse Apology For Saying The Nation Could Benefit From A College Football Season”

  1. Mayhew is a puxxy. He is just the kind of loser who infests university circles and was trained to be a lickspittle slave of global financial powers who control universities with ease

    I read his original article and see that he thinks it’s swell for the athletes to smear america with their vain protests. i immediately stopped wasting my time.

    let’s get a look at his pathetic ticket punching CV which clearly identifies him as a professional sycophant of Big U

    “Matthew J. Mayhew is the William Ray and Marie Adamson Flesher Professor of Educational Administration with a focus on Higher Education and Student Affairs at The Ohio State University. He received his BA from Wheaton College, Illinois; his master’s degree from Brandeis University; and his PhD from the University of Michigan. Before coming to Ohio State, he served as an associate professor at New York University and an administrator at Fisher College and the University of North Carolina at Wilmington.

    He has focused his research on examining the relationship between college and its influence on student learning and democratic outcomes. To support the study of college and its impact on student development and learning, he has been awarded more than $20 million in funding from sources including the United States Department of Education; the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation; the Merrifield Family Trust; the National Science Foundation and an anonymous non-religiously affiliated organization with interests in social cooperation. He is the current editor of the Digest of Recent Research. He has been on the editorial boards of the Journal of Higher Education, Research in Higher Education, and the Journal of College Student Development. He recently received the American Educational Research Association Religion and Education SIG Emerging Scholar Award. He was also recognized as a diamond honoree by ACPA-College Student Educators International.”


    he is fit for nothing besides licking plutocratic boots. he doesn’t get close to those boots however, he is one who is supposed to shine other bootlicker’s boots and wait for years in the hope one day he can personally fellate a whale like as a george soros himself. but, we can see, he’s a loser and a flunky and now will never ascend and climb as he once hoped. its all oiver matt, you aren’t fit to wash helmets for the AD either, even though you tried and failed.

  2. Major universities are masquerading as nonprofits when they run billions of dollars in revenues and budgets a year and sit on endowments twenty times that size.

    They don’t pay diddly squat in local property taxes

    They overuse public resources like police and fire and ambulance

    They commander local politicians with ease, even national ones.

    They lie lie lie about everything, most of all to their own donors

    They run these idiotic SJW programs, misuse the funds entrusted to them, miseducate the youth

    and as we can see here, they abuse and intimidate faculty into their politically correct groupthink.

    They need to be taxed, they need to be prosecuted for innumerable legal violations, they need to be politically attacked as the infestations of greed and corrupt ideology they’ve become


  3. I guess we all realize now, with this abject and self-abasing apology, just how badly Mayhew needs his day job. He is beginning to show some grasp over who is it exactly who butters his bread.

    1. He has his job. He lost his self respect. The latter is hard to secure once cast away.

  4. A slightly overweight 74-year-old just walked out of the hospital three days after he went In after being diagnosed with an “incurable, deadly virus.” Perfectly conditioned twenty-somethings have nothing to fear from COVID and we all know it. Their rate of fatality is much less than the average of all persons with .065% chance of death. So as to say nil. So let’s quit playing Chicken Little. As for the racism charge, it’s crazier than the decision not to play. I do notice the Big 5 conferences are playing and the sky isn’t falling. What places of absolute cowardice our campuses have become with the possible exception of the football field.

    1. It’s is what happens when you live in an insulated cocoon. Frankly, I am ashamed at the intimidation occuring at Ohio State to stop independent thought.

  5. Hmmmm, when I read his article the color of the players never entered my mind. He expressed an opinion and that’s the way I understood it. I guess the people who took exception to the article, in these days, must be considered racist. Should I ask, how many different races are there on the team? Oh should I also ask how many different religions are represented on the team and what are they? Should I also ask what political party they belong to? If you have lived as long as I have, you have to be disgusted with all this BS

  6. Everything is based on skin color. Real equality comes in the form of opportunity, There’s no such thing as equal results. But with them it’s a matter of melanin over merit. It’s gotten way past the point of absurdity.

  7. We can only hope that someday soon, these tyrannical ‘educators’ lose their funding. We are sick of the gulags that they run. They are unAmerican and something needs to be done about those who are unAmerican. I suggest building camps for them. In Merkowski’s district.

  8. You are correct in your apology and retraction. Further, NCAA football should be permanently banned due to all the reasons you stated.
    Thank you for being in the lead on permanently eliminating college football.

      1. Agre war academia has become the new nazi fascist. They no longer believe in free4 of speech .thought. Alternative points of view not tolerated these libs dems have lost all grip on reality. They win election this year freedoms are over these maniacs they indoctrinated are taking over they will rip up constitution
        And to many Americans will go along.

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