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Tom Herman: If you're going to cheer players on the field, 'you better have the same feelings for them off the field'

Nick Bromberg
·3-min read

Tom Herman wonders how much of a double-standard some fans hold college football players to.

The Texas coach said that he had a three-hour virtual meeting with his team on Monday that focused mainly on the protests and civil unrest in the United States after the killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer on May 25. Herman told the Austin American-Statesman in an interview later in the day that the average white fan can’t relate to what it’s like to be a black athlete at Texas.

“Can the average fan relate? No, they can’t,” Herman said. “There’s a double standard maybe a little bit. We’re going to pack 100,000 people into [Darrell K. Royal Stadium] and millions watch on TV that are predominantly white — not all of them certainly, but most of ’em white. We’re gonna cheer when they score touchdowns, and we’re gonna hug our buddy when they get sacks or an interception.

“But we gonna let them date our daughter? Are we going to hire them in a position of power in our company? That’s the question I have for America. You can’t have it both ways.

“And if you’re going to cheer them and love them for three-and-a-half hours a Saturday in the fall, you better have the same feelings for them off the field, because they’re human beings. They deserve the same amount of respect and human rights that all of us do in this country when we agreed on the social contract to be a member of the United States.”

‘Reprehensible crime’

Herman was among the first wave of college football coaches to speak out in the days after Floyd’s death. Friday evening, Herman posted a statement to Twitter that said Floyd’s death was “reprehensible.”

More and more college football coaches spoke out over the weekend like Alabama’s Nick Saban. Oregon’s Mario Cristobal and Appalachian State’s Shawn Clark were among the coaches that attended peaceful protests. Friday night, Minnesota’s P.J. Fleck spoke out against Floyd’s killing, two days after his school ended its large events contract with the Minneapolis Police Department.

As Yahoo Sports’ Pete Thamel wrote Monday night, statements from college coaches are only a small part of the equation of making tangible change in society via college athletics. We now wait to see how coaches and administrators work with their players going forward to make the country a better and fairer place for everyone.

The Big Ten and commissioner Kevin Warren have already started that process. Warren, the first black Power Five conference commissioner, said in an open letter Monday afternoon that he would start an anti-racism and anti-hate coalition across the conference. Warren also said that his family would donate $100,000 to the National Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights.

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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports.

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