CU Buffs coaches, athletes show solidarity

Many voices heard in response to recent social matters

Andy Cross/The Denver Post
Third day of George Floyd protests at the State Capitol May 30, 2020. Protesters are outraged over the death of George Floyd, a 46-year-old black man who was killed by a Minnesota police officer who pinned him to the ground with his knee on his neck.

Reaction to the death of George Floyd has led to protests across the United States over the past week.

It has prompted a flood of emotions, including anger and sadness, among many.

It has also created a show of solidarity, particularly in the sports world and with the University of Colorado coaches and athletes.

Floyd, a black man from Minneapolis, died after being restrained by police on May 25. Floyd pleaded with officers that he couldn’t breathe as they held him to the ground and one officer, Derek Chauvin, pressed his knee into Floyd’s neck.

Chauvin has been charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter, while three other officers at the scene were fired. On Monday, it was reported that a medical examiner ruled Floyd’s death as a homicide.

Floyd’s death is the latest high-profile incident of police killing black people and it has prompted demand for change and an end to racial injustice across the country.

College and professional coaches and athletes around the country, including many of the Buffaloes, have used social media to voice their thoughts on the situation.

CU football player Mark Perry posted a photo of himself standing with his back to the camera and a raised fist, with the words, “Before anything I am a BLACK MAN #BeTheChange”

Another football player, KD Nixon, wrote:

“Dream big

Be kind

Love one another”

On Tuesday, the CU men’s basketball program posted a video of head coach Tad Boyle expressing his thoughts.

“It’s taken me a few days to comprehend what went on and why,” Boyle said. “I’m not sure I’ll ever comprehend fully. What I do understand is that racism exists in the year 2020. As a 57-year-old white man, I do not know, nor do I pretend to know, what it is like to experience racism as a black man or woman in this country. However, as our players return to campus in the coming days, weeks and months, I look forward to reconnecting with them in sharing conversations with them as I know they are experiencing a wide range of emotions, as we all are.

“It has been my experience that sports unifies people and transcends race and forges bonds that bring us all together. I also believe in my heart that education is the great equalizer in this world. It is in this vein that I look forward to getting our team back together soon to build the bonds of brotherhood and love that we all have as Colorado Buffaloes. Racism can be beat – one team, one relationship at a time.”

Women’s basketball coach JR Payne and several other CU coaches and athletes have posted thoughts or shared posts supporting the #BlackLivesMatter movement. On Tuesday, thousands of people on social media, including many in CU athletics, posted a solid black picture as a show of solidarity.

After chancellor Phil DiStefano posted a statement last week about recent acts of racism, CU athletic director Rick George added, “We in the Athletic Department are with the Campus and our Chancellor as we Stand against Hate and Violence! Proud to work at this great University!”

Amid the calls for change and expressions of solidarity, CU head football coach Karl Dorrell said his team is looking to take action for change.

“I had a meeting with my team to discuss the recent events happening in the world,” Dorrell tweeted on Monday. “This is a time we need to foster hope, honest open communication and action. We will be providing a plan of action for change as a team. It’s more important than ever that WE are together!”

In the aftermath of Floyd’s death, many Buffs and those around the world have expressed a sense of togetherness and love for their fellow citizens of all races.

Posting his thoughts, CU football player Carson Wells, who is white, wrote, “I can’t put myself in my brothers and sisters of color shoes. I don’t know exactly how they feel, I’ve never experienced that hate from people I don’t even know. I do know that I care and I’m here for you all and am willing to help.

“I believe change comes from one person at a time. Look inside and see what drives you and how you feel about events today and then bring one person along with you. One by one we can make a difference.”