On Friday, the Red Raider football team canceled practice in conjunction with other athletes across the country who are striking for social justice. The countrywide strikes are in response to the shooting of Jacob Blake, who, earlier in the week, was shot seven times in the back during a police arrest.
The strikes were sparked on Wednesday after the Milwaukee Bucks chose not to take the floor against the Orlando Magic for Game Five of the NBA Playoffs. In suit, other leagues such as the WNBA, MLB and even individual athletes like professional tennis star Naomi Osaka spoke out and decided to postpone or even cancel games and training.
Members of the Texas Tech football team joined in and decided not to practice under the circumstances. One of the first mentions within the program was from sophomore defensive back Dadrion Taylor-Demerson, who released a prewritten statement on social media that had a Double T logo and the word “football” underneath it.
“We as collective members of the Texas Tech University Football Team, stand in solidarity with our brothers and sisters in the sports world throughout this country to protest the inhumane treatment of black and brown individuals by rogue law enforcement officials and the systemically racist power structure that fails to hold them accountable.
"Rather than pretend these problems don't exist and maintain a practice schedule that does not take into consideration the mental health issues derived from seeing our fellow citizens beaten and murdered in the streets on a daily basis, we will instead use this time to discuss these issues amongst ourselves and decide how to best move forward in a manner that will allow us to effectuate change here in Lubbock, as well as the cities we call home.”
Multiple other members of the Tech football program shared the same statement, including Cameron Watts, T.J. Vasher, Riko Jeffers, Chux Nwabuko III and many more. The statement continued.
"We welcome our coaches, support staff and university administrators to engage in this process along with us. We know many in Red Raider Nation will not understand nor support these actions, however, we ask that you respect our right to peacefully protest with the same energy that you cheer for us during the season. The very blood that fuels the heart we display every Saturday on the field, also stimulates our minds to be the change we want to see in this world. We are at a point in time when the two can no longer be separated."
The same night, Tech head football coach Matt Wells posted a statement on social media that backed the strike, and also stood in support of not only the student-athletes, but the nationwide movement.
“Our Texas Tech football program - from our student athletes, coaches & staff - is committed to continuing to fight against social injustice,” Wells said in his statement on Twitter. “I stand beside them and with them (Tech student-athletes) in support and love. We want to inspire lasting change in our program, on our campus, in our community and our nation.”
In unison, the cancellation of the Red Raiders football practice was confirmed by Tech football spokesman, Matt Dowdy, and the team did not have practice on Friday.