High school football coaches to address protests, racism with players

Published 12:25 am Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Brian Morgan, Memorial head football coach, send a text message to his players to address the ongoing protests in the wake of the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police officers.

He offered support to anyone on his team trying to navigate the social contexts of the protests and issues of race.

“I said: ‘Look, there’s a lot of messed up stuff going on in the world right now,’” Morgan said. “‘If you’re going to protest, do it the right way and be leaders. We’re not about tearing up our city. We take a lot of pride in our city.’”

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Like Morgan, area football coaches have been reaching out to their players to help them make sense of the current events surrounding the protests.

Port Neches-Groves coach Brandon Faircloth said sports teams, especially in football, often break through race issues in ways that could serve as a lesson for society at large.

“I do believe that athletics is the perfect example of what this world should look like,” Faircloth said. “A football team made up of kids from every race, religion, background, coming together as a family and working toward one goal. To me there’s not a greater example in this world for society than a sports team, and in my case a football team.

“When you get into the huddle with someone, it doesn’t matter what race they are, their religion or their background. You’re a family, you’re brothers and you work together. At that point you’re all Indians.”

Nederland coach Monte Barrow said one of the tougher aspects of addressing his team is he can’t do it in person.

“Honestly what I’ve thought about is how it’s affecting our players and not being able to communicate with them like coaches the way we’re used to being able to do all the time, seeing them every day during school and seeing them at summer workouts.”

He said issues beyond football are frequent topics of discussion with his team, and racism and the protests are going to be one of them Monday, when all teams will be allowed to resume workouts and practice.

“The things outside of football, the things that are going to stay with them the rest of their lives, those are the things we talk about more than anything,” Barrow said. “I don’t think it’s something I would want to communicate with them over text, social media or something like that. There’s so much interpretation in reading something versus talking to someone. I think with the situation like that, and the issues that have come up, that speaking to them would be much better than written word.”

Faircloth said PNG will definitely be addressing the protests in person next Monday.

“The ironic part is that you’re addressing it with your team who has it right,” he said. “They understand how to go work together and not care what anybody’s race is. I want to make sure all our players understand that we stand with them, we’re here to help them, we want to be a part of changing things for the better for them.”

Based on the feedback he’s received so far, Morgan said many players will likely also be ready to get back to focusing on football when practice beings.

“It’s a long way to Monday,” he said. “Six days ago you wouldn’t have thought this would even be the conversation. Things just change daily. I’ve got a feeling just by my conversations regarding football and stuff that those guys are getting ready to go back to work.”