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According to Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh, his team would have been watching 'American Sniper' no matter what Michigan's student life department had done this week.
Michigan Football will watch "American Sniper"! Proud of Chris Kyle & Proud to be an American & if that offends anybody then so be it!
— Coach Harbaugh (@CoachJim4UM) April 9, 2015
Under normal circumstances, the screening of an Oscar-nominated film to a football team is not noteworthy. However, it's been an eventful 48 hours in Michigan.
The university planned to show the movie on Friday to students who wished to attend. By now, you likely know the movie chronicles U.S. Navy Seal Chris Kyle, who was murdered at a shooting range in 2013.
Michigan is still planning to show the film on Friday – after it was canceled and rescheduled.
The movie originally was scrapped Tuesday after a petition was created. From the Detroit Free-Press:
Lamees Mekkaoui led the drive to get "American Sniper" tossed. She questioned why the school would play a movie that makes her uncomfortable and promotes what she and others have said are anti-Arab and anti-Muslim sentiments.
The drive, which included a letter signed by a couple of hundred fellow students, led the university's Center for Campus Involvement to pull the film from its lineup of UMix events.
But backlash to the backlash began after the decision was made to cancel the showing of the movie, and Harbaugh sent his tweet in the time period when the movie was canceled from its original time. (Earlier Wednesday, the Center for Campus Involvement said the movie would be shown at a different time at a different location to facilitate a panel discussion.)
Michigan's vice president of student life, E. Royster Harper, issued a statement late Wednesday night – less than 90 minutes after Harbaugh's tweet – that said the movie was back on as originally scheduled.
"It was a mistake to cancel the showing of the movie 'American Sniper' on campus as part of a social event for students.
"The initial decision to cancel the movie was not consistent with the high value the University of Michigan places on freedom of expression and our respect for the right of students to make their own choices in such matters.
"The movie will be shown at the originally scheduled time and location. We recognize, however, that some students are uncomfortable with the content of the movie, and appreciate that concern.
"Therefore, the university also will show an alternative movie, 'Paddington,' in another location on campus at that same time and date to provide our students with additional options that evening."
Harbaugh can simply have his team attend the showing if he so chooses, though it's important to reiterate that Michigan student life's showing is not mandatory for students. Rather it's simply an available entertainment option for a Friday night.
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