“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. I’m sorry for speaking the truth. Let’s face it, the left just want you to be you.

  2. Only those students with emerald green skin color should play intercollegiate football. That’s my opinion and I’m sticking to it.

  3. I find it disappointing that neither Professor Matthew Mayhew nor his “consultants” that managed to change his mind seem to have missed the opportunity to actually speak to the team members and to get their opinions. So much of the writing seems to be a discussion about the author’s unsupported opinions about what would be best for the football team and the college. But the good Professor Matthew Mayhew has a graduate student and what are graduate students for anyway except to get data? I hope that Professor Matthew Mayhew would consider a part 3 article and actually base its conclusions on facts and data – perhaps a novel but helpful concept.

  4. I remember when Ohio State promoted freedom of thought and speech. Now it more resembles the brown shirted gang. Replace the Buckeye Leaf with a swastika, it would be more representative of what Ohio State has become. Time to refund Ohio State.

  5. So in other words, he was about to be fired if he didn’t publicly affirm his beta-white-male self loathing.

    1. This guy said or wrote nothing wrong. I’ve been an Ohio State fan for over 20 years and always will be. People need to stop being such sensitive pussies!!!

    2. In other words, he’s a linguini-spine douche bag pussy to give in to these mushroom black racist swill! They do NOT speak for a whole race because a few of these turds happen to be black and have an opinion! Stand up for your principles wuse…if you are really are MAN!

  6. Are there any college professors with an ounce of common sense ……..and balls.

    1. John Doesn’t — Most college professors have enough common sense not to comment.
      But yes, the majority are male and castration is no longer practiced on humans.

  7. Time for the NFL to step up, and stop all drafting and contract signing of black college athletes, and do their part to end the perpetuation of this criminality,oppression, and taking advantage of black athletes! No more! The NFL is only fueling the desire for college football. They need to end all monetary transactions with black athletes.

    NBA – you’re next. Time to step up. Kenton, lead by example and cancel your contracts and sponsorships. Time to do what’s right. Principle over profits!!

  8. The Political Officers of the American Communist Party were out in force today at thee Ohio State.

    Why in —‘s name don’t Americans eliminate, nay, annihilate their anti-Constitution, anti-American and mortal enemies, the communists?

    American freedom is vanishing while the communist “dictatorship of the proletariat” is fastening its chains on Americans and America.

  9. So a healthy 19 or 20 year old has a 99.8 percent chance of full recovery if they have any symptoms. They only have a 3 percent chance of showing any symptoms at all. And those will generally be very mild. There more risk driving a car or walking down the road.

  10. This looks like the great cultural revolution. Do we get to take a long walk also.

  11. Let’s face it. In today’s climate if you’re white, whatever you do is racist. If Mayhew had written a column that supported skipping college football this fall, he would have been criticized by Black players who wanted to play and claimed Mayhew was ruining their chances of reaching the pro level. Therefore, they’d say he was racist to write it. I am so sick of this garbage. If someone disagreed with his original article, the proper response is to publish a dissenting article spelling out why he was wrong. Ultimately prohibiting discussion of ideas allows bad ideas to proceed without evaluation of their downsides.

    1. If you’re “sick of this”, perhaps you could either capitalize BOTH White AND Black or capitalize NEITHER.
      Jus’ sayin’

  12. At least he confessed his crimes against the people. I would have liked to see him on tv so I could tell if he was blinking out coded messages for help.

    1. So did I. I thought it was so deliberately pathetic and groveling it was meant to be funny and insulting at the same time, something I might have done and nearly did in different circumstances but the cowards backed away from insisting I give the public apology I so wanted to give. There would have been costs, of course, but I was ready for that. Perhaps I seemed too willing.

    2. Unfortunately, this is not satire. It’s real life and there is a serious problem in our society.

  13. Another case of a “Professor” in name only . A complete crackpot who should be locked away in an asylum.

  14. Mayhew: “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…”

    JT: Mayhew notes that the harm includes “that my students have to carry my ignorant racist energy with them at all times.”

    me: And the left wonders why the right thinks they are loco.

  15. “It’s Sunday morning, 210k Americans are dead, the president is in the hospital, the economy is in the toilet, you’ve been stuck in your homes for months, and so we thought the person we’d all like to hear from is a deadbeat crank Republican operative. Welcome, this is ABC News.”

    The Republican operative, Jason Miller, was clearly exposed to many of his GOP colleagues who have tested positive, including several from the debate prep. He is inside the 14 day window. But there he is in an ABC studio, onsite and unmasked around their staff instead of quarantining at home.

    Mark Meadows, the WH CoS, has been exposed but isn’t quarantining and talks to reporters without a mask on.

    Sen. Ron Johnson was exposed separately, didn’t quarantine, took his last Covid test en route to an Oktoberfest party and also went to a fundraiser, then got his results back showing he tested positive, meanwhile exposing everyone at both the party and the fundraiser,

    Hope Hicks tested positive and Trump knew that he’d been exposed, but he went off to a fundraiser anyway, and then he tested positive after exposing everyone at the fundraiser.

    These idiot Republicans simply do not care if they expose others.

    1. The reality TV host acts like a reality TV host. Trump staged a photoshoot to look healthy, supposedly showing him working but actually showing him signing blank sheets of paper, with a wardrobe change and set change 10 mins apart:
      https://twitter.com/jonostrower/status/1312616578773446656

      The WH sent a photographer to Walter Reed with Trump. Trump isn’t masked, even though he’s got COVID. He doesn’t care if he exposes the photographer.

      Kim Jong Un would be proud.

      1. It’s the Twentyfirst Century. The camera can be set up, all light checks done Before Trump comes in, and the filming itself can be controlled from another room.
        It’s a benefit of science.

    2. The mortality rate from the virus is somewhere around .1% with the median age of those who die around 80. We should completely reopen while isolating the vulnerable. That seems the logical response, but that thinking is outlawed at the moment.

      1. Twice as many people will die of heart disease than covid this year in the United States, as many as 90,000 Americans have died BECAUSE of the draconian lockdown measures who were at near zero risk from covid, and the brainhumped leftists still mindlessly repeat what the leftist propaganda networks tell them.

    3. The future of our country as we know it is at stake. That calls for drastic actions. You weigh both sides and decide. The vast majority of people, if infected, will experience minor symptoms and 99.5% will recover completely. So we proceed to win this election and tell the academics, progressive idiots to f_off and deal with it. As for critical race training, the President called it like it is, teaching Americans to hate America.

  16. Comments from “An Old Guy” were amazing and I am not Old or a Guy. Sadly the youth has no such critical thinking skills.

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