The National Collegiate Athletic Association's (NCAA) Southeastern Conference (SEC) told state officials in Mississippi that unless the Magnolia State ditches Confederate flag symbology from its state flag, the state will lose the opportunity to host an SEC championship game.
As NBC News reported, SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey said in a statement that the symbols on Mississippi's flag, which incorporates symbolism from a flag that flew over a Confederate army, has got to go.
"It is past time for change to be made to the flag of the State of Mississippi," Sankey said.
The flag colloquially referred to as the "Confederate flag," which can be seen below, is actually the Army of Northern Virginia Battle Flag, not the actual flag of the Confederate States of America, which is entirely different.
Though never officially a symbol of the Confederacy as a whole, the "Stars and Bars" has become a part of Mississippi's state flag, incorporating it as a symbol in its upper-left canton, as can be seen in the featured image of this article.
The "Confederate flag," as it's come to be known, has itself become a symbol of controversy over the years. Supporters point to it as a historical artifact, a symbol of pride for the region of the South. Detractors say that it celebrates men who fought to keep slavery legal and is a symbol of racism and oppression.
The SEC appears to have taken the latter view.
"Our students deserve an opportunity to learn and compete in environments that are inclusive and welcoming to all," Sankey said.
He went on to say that, unless Mississippi follows South Carolina's lead and replaces its flag with something that doesn't involve Confederate symbols, the state will miss out on the opportunity to host SEC championship games.
The University of Mississippi ("Ole Miss") and Mississippi State University, both members of the SEC, agreed with Sankey that the time has come for Mississippi's flag to go.
"Mississippi needs a flag that represents the qualities about our state that unite us, not those that still divide us," the University of Mississippi Chancellor said in a statement.
The controversy over the Confederate flag and its association with sports haven't been limited to just college athletics. As previously reported by The Inquisitr, NASCAR has officially banned fans from bringing the Confederate flag to its races. The motor sports league had previously banned drivers, teams, and sponsors from using the flag and had encouraged fans not to do so without officially banning it. However, in the wake of the George Floyd protests, the league made the decision to completely ban the flag once and for all.