Thursday, November 12, 2015

Tigers and Their Tails

Sometimes no truth is more powerful 
Than that expressed in anger 
By a melancholy man. 
- Pete Hamill 

Feel free to refer to the above as my blanket response to anyone, including my long-suffering wife, who thinks that I might have overstepped in this space a day or two ago when I called out a member of the Commonwealth of Virginia's Congressional delegation who - from where I sit - appears to be morally bankrupt.  I will, perhaps, reconsider my notion of ever participating in the Marine Corps Marathon, the finish line of which is in Virginia.  I will not apologize for speaking the truth. Actually, being my father's son, and being at least 4/5 a son of a bitch, I am loathe to apologize for anything. Ever.  Again, should confirmation of that fact be necessary, my long-suffering wife is available as your source.  

But I digress. 

I regret that all of the goings-on at the University of Missouri this autumn escaped my attention entirely until this weekend's declarations, first by a number of the members of the football team who are African-American and, thereafter, by Gary Pinkel, the head coach of Mizzou's football team in support of his players, regarding the Tigers' suspension of all football activities unless and until the President of the University resigned, which he did on Monday.  Apparently, life in Columbia, Missouri has been considerably less than idyllic for - at least - the past year and the wheels have begun to come off the Tigers' Fun Wagon altogether since classes began a few months ago.  I do not pretend to know nearly enough about all of the issues at play on the Missouri campus to discuss them with even a modicum of intelligence.   Missouri's Governor, Jay Nixon, referred to Mr. Wolfe's decision to resign as University President as, "a necessary step towards healing and reconciliation" on the Mizzou campus.  I shall defer to Governor Nixon.  

I must confess that - as a lawyer - I was intrigued by the position that Coach Pinkel, his assistant coaches, and his staff had staked out for themselves.  Missouri is scheduled to play a non-conference game this weekend against Brigham Young University at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri.  I read in several places on-line that pursuant to the contract that the two universities signed for this game, cancellation of the game by Missouri, which perhaps would have been treated as a forfeit for record-keeping purposes, would have cost the university $1 Million.  Realizing that it is an entirely academic point since Mr. Wolfe has stepped down and Missouri and BYU shall play this weekend as scheduled, I am curious as to by whom that $1 Million penalty would have, ultimately, been paid. 

I was also intrigued by the somewhat related (and now admittedly equally moot) issue of whether the University could have ordered its employees - Coach Pinkel, his assistants, and his staff - to perform their football-related activities irrespective of whether the players who had declared their intention to sit out the game had exercised their right to do so.  If Mr. Wolfe had not resigned, then whether Coach Pinkel's stance was considered principled, insubordinate, or something else altogether different might have been brought to the fore.  As a lawyer whose principal area of practice is not employment law, and as a lawyer who is not licensed to practice law in Missouri, I do not know what the Show-Me State's jurisprudence in the area of employee/employer relationships is, including whether there is a definitive answer to my hypothetical found in either Missouri's case law or its statutory law.  

I suspect, however, irrespective of what the law is on these issues that the young men who attend the University of Missouri and are members of its football team have learned a hell of a lot more this week than simply "X"s and "O"s.  

I would further suspect that such an education shall - in the long run -serve them well.  

-AK 

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