Morgantown, West Virginia – West Virginia University took a clear stance against racism and stood behind its athletes in regards to expressing their thoughts and feelings about what is happening in the world.
The one superficial measure that the university took – allowng “BLM” and “UNITY” decals on the back of football helmets – enraged a large part of the West Virginia Mountaineers fanbase.
Many labeled the Black Lives Matters as “Marxist”, “dangerous”, a “terrorist organization.” These fans threatened to not follow or support the Mountaineers until the university stopped backing this movement.
In response to this and a West Virginia State Senator labeling “BLM” as “hate speech”, West Virginia University released a statement saying, “West Virginia University and its athletics department must ensure a safe and equitable environment for our students and staff. We have an obligation to peacefully stand up against hatred, intolerance and racism. Our student athletes and staff are united to bring about a positive and peaceful change to our great country. As Mountaineers, we would not have it any other way.”
In other words, the university would continue to support its student athletes and their rights to peacefully work to create change. Detractors claim that “BLM” is not peaceful but rather a dangerous organization that should not be shown any support.
With this said, it’s difficult to determine whether if the West Virginia Mountaineers have lost any real amount of fan support. Without fans in the stands and merchandise sales numbers unavailable, there’s no real way of knowing if the university how much, if any, money or support it has lost in the last several months.
However, it’s apparent that West Virginia sports has taken a hit during this very strange time in history. Not only has it lost an incredible amount of revenue from ticket sales, it seems to have lost the trust and approval from many people that call themselves Mountaineers from around the state.
The only way to fix it? Time. Time and winning games.