- The Washington Times - Monday, June 20, 2016

ESPN announced it will present the 2015 University of Missouri football team with a humanitarian award for taking “a huge risk” last year and shining a national spotlight on racial issues at the embattled college.

The team will be awarded the Stuart Scott ENSPIRE Award on July 12 at ESPN’s second annual Sports Humanitarian of the Year Awards in Los Angeles

“Racial tensions were becoming increasingly strained at the University of Missouri last fall,” the sports network said in a statement. “Frustrations gave rise to protests — one of the most notable coming when a student at the school began a hunger strike. Students were demanding action, and the Mizzou Tigers football team stepped in and announced that they would boycott their upcoming game unless changes were made.

“The players took a huge risk — their scholarships could have been revoked and their futures hung in the balance. But their actions indicated it was a risk worth taking to help bring action to this critical issue,” ESPN said.

The University of Missouri has seen a massive drop in enrollment since Concerned Student 1950 protests rocked the campus last year with complaints of racial persecution. Black members of the school’s football team led a brief boycott that resulted in the highly publicized resignations of the president of the University of Missouri System and the chancellor of the flagship Columbia campus.

The ENSPIRE award “celebrates someone that has taken risk and used an innovative approach to helping the disadvantaged through the power of sports.” The award will also be given to former tennis player Billie Jean King and New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft.

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