UCF Knights Football, on behalf of the team’s leadership council, released a statement Saturday about racial injustice and inequality. Here it is:
This isn’t the first time that the Knights have raised their collective voice about these issues. Head coach Josh Heupel said Thursday that there has to be a “continuing dialogue” about such topics among the team. But after recent days in which professional athletes chose not to play and collegiate athletes chose not to practice in an effort to raise awareness, Saturday’s statement was the Knights’ most public display of unity this week.
Proud of our guys for continuing to share their voice and what is on their hearts outside the game of football. We Are One! https://t.co/9WEWQuzGcz— Josh Heupel (@coachjoshheupel) August 29, 2020
Unfortunately, these words were met by a significant and depressingly predictable amount of negative feedback, according to Eric DeSalvo, UCF Athletics’ head of social media and #content.
My heart after reading the facebook comments re: this post:— Eric DeSalvo (@EricDeSalvo) August 29, 2020
What is the justification of these people who want black athletes simply for their entertainment but become furious at the idea that their lives matter or that they have an opinion? https://t.co/z6ofYSgqcf
Those detractors often see this type of statement as a political missive, but that’s because similar statements have been coopted by politicians and nefarious actors who don’t understand or don’t care to understand why so many people and organizations are demanding change. It's not political; it's human rights.
For those who are carrying any hint of anger, I implore you to have an open mind, gather some empathy and, for starters, follow this advice from former Orlando Magic head coach Stan Van Gundy:
Listen to black voices right now. There were some great things said in the NBA world the last couple of days — Doc Rivers, Chris Webber, George Hill and Sterling Brown on behalf of the Bucks, Robert Horry. Hear their pain, fatigue, anger and frustration. Try to truly understand.— Stan Van Gundy (@realStanVG) August 27, 2020
For UCF fans, try to understand why Jordan Johnson, the extraordinarily kind and thoughtful former Knights center, would say something like this:
What hurts me the most is that if I died today by the hands of the police. People would go searching for bad things in past to justify why I deserved to be killed.— Kelton Jordan Johnson Ⓥ (@3rdJohnsonboy) August 29, 2020
As I said near the end of the most recent BGB podcast, don’t give in to the comforting result of satisfying your confirmation bias. Don’t shy away from the internal squeamishness that arises with cognitive dissonance. Challenge your sensibilities. Ask questions and listen. Racial injustice and inequality exist in numerous areas of life today; no argument against that can be made in good faith. It seems illogical to become upset when instances of inequity are mentioned by people you would otherwise cheer.