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Penn State Football: Mustipher Hoping Conversation Continues

by on June 02, 2020 2:50 PM

Penn State defensive tackle PJ Mustipher is hopeful that the window for meaningful conversation, and the ability for athletes to speak up about social issues, isn’t open on a temporary basis.

He’s hoping it stays open for good.

“That's one of the things I was talking to my family about,” Mustipher said during a conference call with reporters on Tuesday. “I don't want this to just be a one week or a one month thing, I want this thing to be all year round I want us to be talking.

“I want us to be doing stuff in the community. What can we do to change things? I want us to never forget this feeling we have right now because it's so important...Tough times bring change; easy times don't really bring change. So I think it's important. It sucks that we have to go through this but it's important that we remember this feeling we're having, and we continue to move forward as a country, and you know just just put ourselves in the best position to be in a country where we're [in] unity is key.”

As protests and rallies sweep the nation in support of police reform and against police brutality against the black community, specifically in the wake of the death of George Floyd, it has become a talking point across country and part of every team meeting or Zoom call

But Mustipher knows how these things go, that for now it’s deemed "acceptable" for athletes to talk about the world, but eventually they will be asked to "stick to sports" again, and the opportunity for conversation will leave, even if the problems stay.

There is a frustration in knowing that your cause has an expiration date, a moment when otherwise unbothered people will want their normal back, hoping the problem to go away for their own comfort more than anything else.

Which makes this an interesting time in the world of sports as athletes take to social media, coaches speak their minds and sports and politics continue to erode any pretense of being separated. In many ways sports exist to take us away from the world and escape it, but sports have never existed in a vacuum, and as Penn State offensive lineman CJ Thorpe stood and spoke at State College’s own rally this past weekend, it was a reminder of this fact: that ultimately those who entertain have a message too.

“If guys in locker rooms across this country, and Penn State football, can start this conversation, and lead this conversation, then I think change, change can happen everywhere,” Mustipher said. “Because we have so many different diverse backgrounds and, guys come from all over the place. CJ just being the catalyst to start this conversation, when it's not easy to do so, just speaks volumes to the leadership we have in this locker room.”

When it’s all said and done time will tell how long the conversations lasts, and how receptive people are to sports and politics finally embracing their relationship. For now though, Mustipher and Thorpe and countless other athletes across the country will use their platform and this moment, for as long as they can.



Ben Jones covers Penn State football and basketball for StateCollege.com. He's on Twitter as @Ben_Jones88.
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