Sports News Without Fear, Favor or Compromise
Sports News Without Fear, Favor or Compromise

Utah State boycotts game to protest religious discrimination

The Utah State Aggies refused to play this week’s game to support their coach.
The Utah State Aggies refused to play this week’s game to support their coach.
Image: Getty Images

Utah State football players are using their power to take a stand against what they perceived as religious discrimination by their university president.

In a players-only meeting Friday morning, USU players voted not to play against Colorado State University Saturday night, protesting the comments made this week by USU President Noelle Cockett, as first reported by Brett McMurphy.

The boycott derives from Cockett’s remarks about USU interim football coach Frank Maile this week during a video call. The exact comments have not been reported, but Aggie players allege Cockett expressed religious bias against Maile, who is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, when she addressed Maile’s candidacy for the permanent head coaching vacancy.

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Utah State is expected to hire Arkansas State’s Blake Anderson.

USU football players, in a statement, said the team has “decided to opt-out of our game against Colorado State due to ongoing inequality and prejudicial issues between the players, coaches, and the USU administration.” The statement noted that it “has nothing to do with the hiring of Coach Blake Anderson.”

“I am devastated that my comments were interpreted as bias against anyone’s religious background,” Cockett said in a statement. “Throughout my professional career and, especially, as president of USU, I have welcomed the opportunity to meet directly and often with students about their experiences. Regardless of how difficult the conversations might be in the coming days, I remain committed to giving our students a voice.”

It’s always, “I’m devastated that my comments were interpreted…” Everyone knows what comes out of their own mouth, before any interpretation, and even if it is subconscious bias, then guess what? You should lose your job. Go pick up a history book and dive into the experiences of marginalized groups in this country — many people whose families fled religious persecution can tell you their stories as well.

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It’s no excuse.

Listen, we don’t know what exactly was said by Cockett, but the fact that you have an entire team boycotting a game because of comments you made is, in itself, a big deal!

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You clearly said something out of bounds. And the fact that you hired a different coach doesn’t help the team’s suspicion of bigotry.

This isn’t just for Cockett; no one should be able to hold on to power while trying to figure out if they are biased xenophobic or not.

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You’d think by now, after all we’ve seen in 2020, all the racial uprisings over the summer and calls for equality, that this wouldn’t still be happening.

It shows you how deep prejudices like racism, sexism, and religious discrimination go.

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The school said it would meet with players to “hear their concerns in an open dialogue so it can address them.”

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Kudos to the USU football team for taking a stand. 

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