LAWRENCE, Kan. — After insensitive tweets made by a Kansas State University student on the death of George Floyd, student athletes at K-State said they won’t play until change is made. KU football players have also participated in protests to fight racial injustice.
“I develop young men in all areas of their lives and so if our players made a decision, a choice, I’m going to support them,” said K-State Assistant Coach Van Malone.
Malone knows his players and said now it’s time for them to move forward.
“The thing we try to teach them to do is respond positively and respond in constructive ways. Those guys are coming out and saying we want to help the University, not just for black students, not just for student athletes, but for all students,” Malone said. “The attitudes of racism, those won’t change overnight. What we have to do is, continue to move on as a society and eventually those people we see that their wicked ways are not acceptable here and they’ll change of they’ll just be miserable all by themselves.”
It’s going on across many campus, even over at KU. Many football players have participated in protests against racial injustice.
“We want to make sure that they have a voice in everything that they do,” Ed Jones said, KU director of player development. “We want to make sure we’re doing things that they want and that we’re combining our efforts with their efforts towards things they want to change.”
The Jayhawks have met with Anquan Boldin, whose cousin was killed by two off duty police officers. And then they had their own team meeting.
“When we have these open conversations, now you see it’s not just your timeline, that it’s your teammate. So, that’s the reaction, like this is why. People don’t get to know who you are, it’s exterior and it’s judging, so it was kind of eye opening, because you can see people’s faces. One of our coaches said he just looked at people’s faces you see people shocked,” Jones said.
But through these uncomfortable conversations there’s an eye opener to change. At KU, Jones along with Les Miles have developed four committees for change social action committee, player wellness, community impact and career development.
At K-State the coaches know they have a greater responsibility.
Coach Klieman always says that if all we do is teach you how to tackle and how to run and how to block then we failed miserably,” Malone said.
One of those is voting. KU will work with players to get them up to speed on absentee voting. K-State had a number of players not registered, so this past week they changed that.
“Once we give you this tool, you have a responsibility to give it to your family and to your friends,” Malone said. “So we ended up getting our entire team registered.”
Malone admitted to blocking twitter handles displaying racism at K-State and their staff is trying their best not have their student athletes be affected by hate
“You’re going to have people who have different views, you’re going to have people who rather speak hate than love, the only way you can overshadow hate is with love,” Malone said.
“As a Black student athlete and you show up to the March and you see, you don’t just see Black people, you see, you know, you’re like wow, you’re blown away and so I’ve had conversations with student athletes afterward and their reactions encouraged to see that I’m not in this fight alone,” Jones said.
Saturday night, K-State Football Coach Chris Klieman released a statement saying racism is not welcome at K-State now or in the future. He shares he’s excited to help players unite and that black lives matter.