In response to vast numbers of people protesting police brutality and racial injustice throughout the country over the last week, Maryland football coach Mike Locksley decided to have a team meeting.
Locksley's goal was to communicate with his players, hear their concerns and educate the team as best he could.
"I thought it was really important to create a dialogue," Locksley said on The Sports Junkies Wednesday. "I coach a microcosm of our society. We have all types of races, religions and socio-economic groups on our football team and the last thing you want is the things that are happening out in the real world to creep into something I feel like we've made some gains in building a cohesive team."
Throughout the meeting, Locksley couldn't stress enough how important respect was to the equation.
"There are no clear-cut answers to it, that's the hard part," he said. "[I'll] by no means try to quiet their voices or stop them. Just go out there and express their feelings, but I also wanted them to educate themselves on what they were saying and what they were feeling and not make emotional decisions, but really think things through.
"I also wanted them to remember that the underlying word that comes to mind with all of these tragedies and all of these things that continue to happen is respect," he said. "If you have respect for someone, those types of [emotional] decisions are hard to make."
Maryland football released a united statement from the players Tuesday, stating their desire to become, "difference makers" and "leaders in creating change" in their community. Not only did the statement condemn racial injustice and the deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and Freddie Gray, but it provided solutions to bring about change.
"There's one thing to put a statement out and it's another thing to have solutions," he said. "They wanted to educate themselves on the voting process. Far too many 18-22 year-olds in college don't take advantage of the ability we have to vote. They wanted to go out and become more involved in underserved communities with voter registration as well as getting people who can't get to the polls transportation to get them there."
Every player signed the statement, and most of the solutions were focused on voting. Locksley explained his players believe that is the best avenue for change.
"I thought it was a tremendous answer as a team and for 18-22 year-olds to think that deeply, I was really proud of them coming up with just not the statement piece but what they wanted to do or could do to try and make a difference down the road."
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